I don’t buy Jaffa Cakes. Why? Because they are simply too good – eat one and suddenly I’m on a binge, devouring every one of them in sight. No, to satisfy my sweet tooth only a standard, unspectacular biscuit will do – a digestive, maybe, or perhaps a custard cream. And this, I feel, is a metaphor apt not only for food, but for most of life’s indulgences. It can be applied to video games, to give a good example, and can produce unexpected results.
With the Easter break drawing to a close and the intimidating culmination of third-year creeping over the horizon, my housemates and I decided to leave our much-cherished Xbox One at ‘home home’, replacing it with its grandfather – the original Xbox. The aim, of course, was to stave off distraction from the crucial dissertation writing and exam revision which dominated our imminent future. Out went FIFA 17, with its dazzling graphics, slick gameplay and painfully addictive Ultimate Team mode. In came the ancient FIFA 07, disc scratches and all. A Jaffa Cake had been swapped for a digestive. Or so we thought.
The problem was that FIFA 07 turned out to be quite good. And as we played more, we began to realise it was actually far more enjoyable than FIFA 17 had ever been. Notions of sensible revision timetables were thrown out the window as we began a new Manager Mode with which we immediately became infatuated. Let’s get this straight – FIFA 17 is technically a ‘better’ game. But for all its intelligence and polish, it was never as fun as FIFA 07. Why was this so?
“The ball moved in a satisfying, zippy way”
Firstly, there was something brilliantly enjoyable about the latter’s gameplay. The ball moved in a satisfying, zippy way. Defenders, be they Paolo Maldini or Richard Dunne, could deliver devastating lobbed through balls from the back. There was a fantastic lack of realism elsewhere too – strikers could crash in screamers from 40 yards, while those in ball-possession could outsprint defenders with ease.
Then there was the fact that it was often downright hilarious. Commentator Clive Tyldesley was prone to screaming ‘it’s 5-2 now!’ irrespective of the actual score. Cristiano Ronaldo once surged past most of our team in a glorious, mazy run. Sadly, he had been running towards his own goal.
“Commentator Clive Tyldesley was prone to screaming ‘it’s 5-2 now!’ irrespective of the actual score”
But 07’s best feature was its innate charm. The primitive graphics and textures felt almost homemade, while even the commentary felt personable – Tyldesley’s complaints on the conspicuous absence of his half-time tea were infinitely more interesting than anything I’ve heard in recent FIFAs.
And while 07’s aforementioned flaws were endearing, 17’s are infuriating. Crosses are so useless that any attempt at attacking down the wings feels futile. Parking the bus works far too well, while a sense that the game is ‘scripted’ certainly feels more prominent.
Ultimately, while both were good in their own way, the digestive turned out to be more enjoyable than the Jaffa Cake – I guess sometimes the classics are hard to beat. So if FIFA 17 is getting you down, I wholeheartedly recommend giving a retro game a try. It worked for us – I just hope it hasn’t ruined our exam results.