EA Sports should be ashamed of themselves: they like to honk the FIFA horn every year to pump up the excitement for the yearly rendition and roll out of their much-loved FIFA franchise. The first titbits’ of information trickle out in a trailer that rarely resembles how the game will play, barely showing any difference to the trailers from the year before, albeit with a new kit, or the latest boots thrown into the mix, but let’s be honest who really cares about them?

I remember the high flying days of the Pro Evo where gameplay was king, with kits and names taking a backseat. The gameplay was improved upon each year, with the differences being notable, and how I miss those days. EA have the power of the biggest football license to pull the wool over your eyes, shove two fingers up your nostrils, and blare sirens in your ears to attempt to disguise the fact that nothing much has changed since FIFA 10.

They constantly talk about the new modes like a shark-like salesman, blagging their way into magazines, websites and your thoughts. I would love to see these gameplay tweaks scrape to the surface and show their face every 10 games or so, but they never do, and I’m losing hope. Seasons mode has remained the same for the past two years, as has pretty much everything else, but the thing that infuriates me the most is EA Sports’ constant overlooking of Pro Clubs, which has been the same every year since FIFA 10. The only new addition to clubs is the copy and paste formula from the single player Seasons for FIFA 13’s Pro Clubs, making it four years of the same game, and almost entering into Call of Duty territory.

Pro Clubs plays completely different from every other mode in the game, which makes it easily the most annoying one to play, despite it being the only decent area available to play multiplayer with your friends, outside of a head-to-head match. And unfortunately, every single player in your team has the talents of the lowliest hung-over Sunday morning league player.

Keeping a team made up of a complete mishmash of names with little to no ability was fair in FIFA 10 as it was a new experience, but that was 3 releases ago, and this is the worst thing about the whole situation. Faced with one of the thousands of 4ft pros with high stats who are littered in every online team the commentator announces as Galacticos, Legends or All Stars and who the unimaginative players out there constantly choose, your generic players appear even more useless by comparison.

The passing, shooting, tackling and positioning is a far cry from what happens when playing single player seasons, causing mass frustration and stress online as you frequently concede goals that ping pong off everyone and your keeper, leading to that same 4ft man tapping in. Passing goes awry often and your players’ first touches are more appropriate for non-sport playing mammals – the clichéd “good touch for a big man” is never uttered in Pro Clubs. Awkward falls, running away from the ball and just general stupidity oozes from every unknown player in every game, and frustratingly it’s not always your ability that hinders your clubs progression, it’s more often the fools that the EA devs have left at your disposal to make a team from.

Playing Pro Clubs makes me wonder whether the developers even test it out? If they did, how on Earth did they ever find it enjoyable, and a perfect fit for what the single player offers? It’s awful. Too much concentration is focused on developing your pro, one man on the pitch with 21 others who can frequently be poor. Why couldn’t EA add in a levelling system for your team, so competing against the unstoppable little people wouldn’t be so much of a chore?

In the next FIFA games, I demand to see gameplay updates that help the genre move forward: I don’t want to see pointless managers on the touchline, or subs warming up behind the goal, considering you can’t make any substitutes in pro clubs anyway. Those two have been recently added, bringing nothing to the gameplay experience and distracting from time that could have been spent developing the pro clubs gameplay experience.

Lastly, the reviews for FIFA each year always heap praise on EA Sports and lavish a high score on the game.It’s these reviews, and those for Call of Duty, that are evidence that the games review companies are s0 afraid of the powerhouse game developers to say anything negative, in fear of having their exclusives about the next yearly update taken away from them. Their cowardice might serve a professional purpose, but its the gamers who suffer most.

What do you think of Fifa 13′s pro club mode? Share your thoughts below.

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This article was first posted on December 3, 2012