FIFA 11 – Manager mode first impressions

5 Oct

Every year I do the exact same thing when it comes to buying the latest football game. I run out on the day that it is released, hand over my hard-earned money and then fire up the Xbox with excitement.

And every year I’m left disappointed.

I’m a fairly hardcore football gamer, you see. Manager mode is my sanctuary and, more often than not, I’ll have spent hours and hours turning Reading into a real force in English football – turning unheard of players into big names and playing every game along the way.

So when I upgrade to the new version of FIFA, I’m always left slightly disappointed by what I’ve left behind. It’s not just a game, it’s a team. I could still tell you most of the players I had in my FIFA ’09 manager mode team, so it’s something of an attachment.

This year was no different, except that the little touches of class that FIFA 11 offer have helped to soften the blow enormously.

Where FIFA 10 rubbed salt into the wounds by coming equipped with glitches that made my new signings disappear and my console freeze every third game, the latest version just feels altogether more polished.

I’ll concentrate on manager mode because it’s where my vice lies and it’s a real improvement over the previous version.

On FIFA 11, you’re not just tied down to match days for example – a feature that made transfer windows an absolute nightmare of few real opportunities.

Instead, you can work on a day-to-day basis – more like the Championship Manager games of old.

The method of signing players is much more intuitive and, dare I say, realistic than before, without being off-putting.

The data that you’re given post-match is also beautifully detailed and for a geeky stats man such as myself, it’s truly immersive. And the opportunity to watch highlights of the game – brilliant!

There are a couple of disadvantages – the talksport.net product placement is about as subtle as a fart in a lift and a little off-putting in my opinion.

And there doesn’t appear to be a way to improve your coaching staff and stadium as in previous versions, which was something that I always enjoyed.

But overall, manager mode feels more polished.

Gameplay

Such is my addiction to manager mode that I’ve got this far with barely a mention of the gameplay. And that’s a good thing.

Another big thing that I’ve found with upgrading football games is that it always takes you time to get used to the new style of gameplay. Everything always feels a bit different, largely because it is.

Yet I didn’t find this much of a problem with FIFA 11. The first game that I played seemed to pass a little slower than I was used to, but after that I didn’t really notice it at all.

All I noticed was the little improvements that they’ve made.

The headers – oh joy, the headers!

It was only when I scored with a bullet header from around the penalty area that I realised that this was something I could never do on previous FIFA games. If you didn’t head it from the six-yard line or closer, it wasn’t going anywhere other than straight at the goalkeeper more often than not.

But this just feels a bit more, well, realistic.

The tackling too feels as though you have just that little bit more control over it and the referees reactions to them feel a bit more human too.

They let you play on more, but realise when there is actually and advantage and when there isn’t. The days of being able to foul someone, leave the ball for a couple of seconds and then run off triumphantly could well be numbered.

In general, FIFA 11 just seems that little bit more polished than previous versions. It’s not a complete overhaul by an means, but this is a good thing.

If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.

But if there is one thing that EA Sports need to take note of, it’s the commentating. Update it please!

Andy Gray’s monologues are great, but when you’ve heard them hundreds of times already, the last thing that you want to do when you boot up your brand new game is to hear them again.

So for FIFA 12, please give me something different to listen to!

Rediscovering my blogging mojo

5 Oct

Right, this is getting silly now. I’m becoming acutely aware that everyone who finds their way to my website is still seeing a blog post entitled ‘Moving on from The Guardian‘ that was written back in May and, frankly, it’s getting a bit silly.

So this is less of a blog post and more of a statement of intent – that I won’t allow this site to fall so far behind again. And once I get the Internet in my beautiful new flat (I’m writing this from the online sanctity of Starbucks) I’ll have absolutely no excuse not to.

I’ve been half-heartedly looking into coding over the past few weeks and I’ve decided that I’m going to either teach myself or use alcohol to bribe one of our lovely, dashing team of developers *waves* into showing me the ropes. Then I’ll look at making this website look half-decent (although I might keep the hot-pink links.)

In the meantime, if you’re at all interested in what I’ve been upto – just check out expressandstar.com and shropshirestar.com where you’ll, hopefully, find plenty of evidence.

I’ll go into more detail about some of the social media and editorial work that I’ve done in the near future, but check out the Property, Motors and the recently created Careers sites which I look after.

Or if social media is your bag then cast your eye over our Twitter profile or Facebook page.

All the relevent links for shropshirestar.com are below. Looking forward to rediscovering my blogging mojo.

Moving on from The Guardian

24 May

So as many of you that follow me on Twitter will know, I’ve decided to leave guardian.co.uk for pastures new. I’ve had a great time working here, made some really good friends and learnt a hell of a lot about working in the media industry. I’ve been lucky enough to spend nearly two years working on what is probably the best newspaper website in the country and it’s proved to be an experience that will stand me in good stead for the future.

Speaking of which, my increasingly near future lies in Wolverhampton, where I’ve landed a job as an Online Journalist for MNA Digital, the webby arm of the Wolverhampton Express and Star and the Shropshire Star. Specifically, I’ll be taking over the commercial sections of the websites, namely Jobs, Property and Motoring, and will be responsible for the social media presence of both publications. It’s a big challenge and that’s why the role was so appealing to me.

I’ve got a lot of ideas to take with me into my new job and I’m chomping at the bit just to get going really. I felt as though I’d learnt all I could do in my current position with The Guardian and needed something new to get my teeth into to progress as a Journalist, a professional and an all-round person. It’s a fantastic opportunity and one that I know I’ll enjoy every minute of. Expect more updates as they come…

User-generated content and journalism

11 Apr

A student at my old university contacted me last week with some questions for his dissertation, which will look at the impact of user-generated content on modern journalism. Here are my responses:

1. How would you define the term “citizen journalist”?

Firstly, I find it important to distinguish between ‘citizen reporting’ and ‘citizen journalism.’ For me, citizen reporting is much more common as it can, essentially, be done by any member of the public that happens to be in the right place at the right time. It could be as little as describing an event on Twitter or putting some pictures of a newsworthy story on a blog.

Journalism, however, requires more than this. In my opinion, journalism needs to be fair, extensive, sculpted and trustworthy. It requires more than just the act of saying what you see and is, clearly, usually reserved for those in the industry. However, that doesn’t mean that citizens can’t ‘do’ journalism. There are many blogs which do so. Guido Fawkes and Jason Cobb’s Onion Bag Blog spring to mind as very good examples of citizen journalism, although this is largely due to the skills of those individuals, which are essentially the same as a professionally trained journalist.

2. As a professional, How do you consider User-Generated Content (UGC) in terms of validity to journalism?

As somebody who works in the Community department of a national newspaper website, I am probably more likely that most to give a positive answer to this question! I think that user-generated content is a good potential source of stories, if there are the resources to dig them out, and I have personally seen stories that have been resulted from comments underneath a story.

3. Do you see UGC as an alternative to professional journalism?

No. The biggest difference between the two is authority. Professional journalism has it, UGC rarely does. Without a professional press, how would we know what we could trust and what we couldn’t? Of course, the professional press is not exactly without bias itself; The Guardian is well known as being a liberal newspaper and will clearly produce journalism backed by these values, but these are well-known and affect the telling of the story, rather than the truth of that particular story. Whilst UGC can crafted into journalism by a skilled professional, I can’t see it replacing or providing a serious threat to professional journalism alone.

4. Do you think that citizens can be trusted to make news without professional supervision?

It depends on the audience. I certainly can’t imagine a professional newspaper allowing to make the news without the watchful eye of a professional; after all, news stories provided by staff journalists need to be sub-edited before they will appear in the newspaper or on the website. If they are self-publishing on a blog or similar then sure, why not? However, this will most likely lack the authority of a professional news story and is unlikely to reach any significant audience.

5. Is UGC challenging professionals to start improving their content?

Yes. It has done since the beginning of journalism with reader letters, which often critique or correct news stories from the previous day. These days it is much more instantaneous with comments left underneath the article and part of my job involves passing on comments that may point out something like a spelling mistake, an incorrect fact or a complaint about the honesty of an article. So yes, the ability for readers to pick-up on problems so quickly means that there is more pressure on a journalist to get everything right, or face the wrath of the comments section!

A quick and boring film

29 Jan

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So while I find more exciting things to film, I thought I’d give it a bash in my flat

20 cool things I’ve done in 2009

22 Dec

1. Saw in the new year dressed as Flava Flav
Flava Flav costume
2. Decided that I didn’t like Twitter
3. Changed my mind about Twitter
4. Beat all the national newspapers to reporting about Match of the Day pundit Alan Pardew describing a tackle as a ‘raping’
5. Set up the @GuardianVoices Twitter feed
6. Started a new blog about Reading FC, my local team
7. Went to a party without electricity
8. Won free VIP tickets to Glastonbury and took my best friend Ross
Glastonbury 2009
9. Had my first piece published on guardian.co.uk, a game review of Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
10. Got an iPhone (yes, that is cool!)
11. Went on a circle line pub crawl and learnt how to play tube surfing

Get those feet off the floor


12. Had my first piece published on Guardian Careers, a piece about working from home and started contributing regularly
13. Had a chat with Kriss Akabusi on Twitter
14. Went to see England’s final qualifying game for the World Cup at Wembley
15. Was named as the #FollowJourn for the day on journalism.co.uk
16. Watched The Exorcist on a giant screen in a graveyard
17. Cooked my first ever roast dinner

18. Won a Flip HD video camera
19. Saw Har Mar Superstar playing an intimate gig at The Macbeth
20. Went out dressed as the tinman

More Guardian Careers blogging

25 Nov

Over the past couple of months, I’ve continued with the careers blogging and have contributed another couple of posts.

Interview advice for dummies
I don’t need to be told to smile during a job interview; why do some career sites assume that we’re all idiots?

Relocation
Many graduates find it necessary to relocate after university, but it’s not always that easy

Once I think of some more things work-related to write about, I’ll be contributing some more.