As much as I love spending time with my two sons, aged 10 and seven, there is a time every evening when I have to leave the room.
This is FIFA 15 time: the video game they nagged and begged Santa to get them for Christmas, and which the great bearded chap duly delivered.
As a technophobic house dad, I haven’t got the faintest idea how to play it, let alone how to beat my boys at it, so I absent myself with a mutter and a mumble about needing to get the dinner on.
But inside, I’m crying. Inside I feel like a Bad Dad. Inside I am desperate to join in AND KICK THEIR SKINNY LITTLE BUTTS!
For I am a competitive dad: I have never, and will never, allow my sons to beat me at ANYTHING – be it Monopoly, or chess, or a bowling, or Buckaroo. Well, it’s character building, innit?
But there is one area I am hopelessly inadequate: video games. And so I bow out from even competing, for fear I will disgrace myself to such an extent that my sons will grow up with an irreparable Superiority Over Their Hopeless Father complex.
And the very real-time illustration of that is FIFA 15.
They play it together, they play it alone, they play it with their mates. But they never, ever play it with me.
Oh yes, they invite me aka invite me to be humiliated. But I always refuse – because I’m scared. Because I have absolutely, literally no idea what the game’s about and feel like, at the age of 50, I’m way to old to learn.
For now is the time when the dad will rise, when the humiliation will end and I will triumph over the smugness that has infected my sons over their father’s inadequacy to step up to the plate.
Yes, get ready for conquest, lads, for your Old Man has learned what FIFA 15 is all about and this is what I’ve found. Get ready to rummmmmmmmmbbbbbbbllllllle!
What is FIFA 15?
FIFA 15 is a ‘football simulation video game’ – which means you can play football on screen with computer-generated players while you’re still in your onesie.
Who is it aimed at?
Football-mad children and adults who prefer staying indoors to stripping down to shorts and playing in the howling wind, gloopy mud and frost.
What do you play it on?
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Why is it so special?
The game features superstar Lionel Messi (who has been the World Footballer of the Year several times) on its packaging and it’s the first FIFA game to be fully licensed by the Premier League (like you care).
How does it work?
All your children’s favourite players are recreated as emoticons in the virtual world. Computer-generated lookalikes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, even a Joey Barton, pop up before your eyes for you to pick for your perfect team in the hope of trouncing the opposition.
You can access 600 teams, 35 leagues, and 16,000 players, including the four top English leagues, from the Premier League down to League 2.
It offers a range of playing modes: for example, the career mode, which lets you and up to four friends take control of a team of your choosing, playing the matches, managing the team, and bidding on the transfer market; and the Ultimate Team mode – a kind of virtual trading card album, where the cards you get can be used to add players to your team. And you can also buy FIFA 15 Coins to improve your team’s power. That’s nice!
Who are the opposition?
You can connect your hand-held terminal with other players in the same room or online. Or, if you’re Billy No Mates, play against the computer. Set it to easy and you’ll always win, (Any victory’s a plus!)]
And then it gets fun!
With a mere flick of your fingers or a twist of your thumbs, you can make your players race up, down, across (but not under) the pitch. You can make them tackle, shoot, pass, save, SCORE – anything that real life players can do.
It’s as intelligent as, well, us parents!
Just like real life players, FIFA 15 builds in something called ‘Emotional Intelligence’ – which means that when players score a goal, they’ll celebrate just as your heroes do (running around like maniacs with their shirts over their heads for example), and when they miss, they’ll fall to their knees and hold their heads in their hands as if the world’s about to come to an end – all while directing their displeasure or joy for the benefit of the virtual cameras. Just like real life!
What do other parents say?
Writing on Everybody Plays, this reviewer said: “Some people can pick up and play it straight away, but others will struggle to get going, with little in the way of rhyme or reason.
‘With no real basic tutorial to talk you through the controls, and no on-screen indicator to say which way you’re supposed to be going, it can be a bit tricky for young, new players to get going – at least when playing on their own.
“Luckily, with the ability to play on a team with four friends, there’s great potential for a whole family to join in on the fun, helping the younger ones learn the ropes while playing alongside people who can give them a bit of a hand if they struggle.
“That said, despite there being plenty of assists to turn on, letting the computer give you a hand with everything from shooting to passing, you should probably expect the game to have a bit more of a learning curve than you might have thought.”
But not everyone’s a fan!
By and large, FIFA 15 gets rave reviews across the internet, but some say it isn’t realistic enough – that it’s ‘football for the Sky generation – a loud fusion of swooshing camera angles, painstakingly recreated Premier League stadiums, and slick commentary teams who make a point of showing off that their banter is reactive to your team’s on field exploits, discussing your club’s start to the league season or your star striker’s conversion rate’.
This reviewer, from Total Xbox, added: “Even the pretend-crowd are part of the show – for example, when Liverpool close in on a famous win, You’ll Never Walk Alone fills the Anfield air, and lower-league teams on the cusp of a giant killing desperately whistle at the referee in the hope that he’ll reciprocate. It’s an impressive package that perfectly captures the big time feel of a TV broadcast.”
But the gamer concludes: “In all, FIFA 15 is the most realistic sports game ever: the best version of the beautiful game – at least, until FIFA 16.”
I’m off to get my onesie on and kick my sons’ skinny behinds. GAME ON!