Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at why you should try Pro Clubs Seasons, and how you can quickly create, use and improve your online Pro…
"Okay lads, get ready for the best cross you've ever seen!"
Two seconds later I watched my mate harmlessly float over what can only be described as the worst cross I've ever seen.
The goalkeeper caught the ball without having to move then lobbed it to a forward who had a free run at goal, due to the fact that most of his opposition – my team – were too busy laughing.
At that point I knew I was hooked on FIFA 13’s Pro Club Seasons.
Pro Clubs Seasons is a game mode that I hadn’t spent a great deal of time in until a few months ago, when my mate – the same one who can’t cross – invited me to join his club and play a couple of league games. Although my Pro was initially behind my team-mates’ in terms of Overall ability, I really enjoyed the matches. They offered a completely different FIFA experience to the other three modes I’ve played the most – FUT, Career and Seasons.
I still play all three regularly, but now always make time to fit in a couple of games with my Pro Club team-mates, who made my signing permanent after that initial trial run.
I’m happy to say that my Pro player can now hold his own, too. His Overall ability has grown significantly since that first trial game and he’s now really contributing to the team’s performance, which makes playing matches even more satisfying as well as a really good laugh.
So this week’s Backpage is for those of you who are yet to try Pro Clubs Seasons, because we’re going to look at how you can quickly create an online Pro of your own and rapidly improve his abilities when you sign for your first club or start one of your own with some mates.
Create Your Online Pro
To get started just head to Pro Clubs Seasons in the Online Modes or Xbox Live menus. The most important thing to consider when making your online Pro – after what kind of haircut he'll have of course – is what sort of player you want him to be.
What he’s initially capable of, and how he feels to control in matches, will depend on the decisions you make here on things like height, weight, position, role and playing style.
For example, the bigger and heavier you make your Pro the slower he will be, so that's not going to suit you if you want to play as a speedy winger. But if you intend to be more defensive – like a CDM or CB – then it's handy to be big and strong so you don't get pushed off the ball as easily. Have a flick through the different options available and watch the way your player's abilities change each time.
It's about balance, and I think you find that by settling on choices that give you just enough ability and physicality without making your player feel too slow for his position. That’s what I did with my Pro. He’s a 5ft 10in midfield playmaker who has just enough Acceleration to buy me some space, while at the same time being strong enough to protect the ball when he has to.
It’s quick and easy to edit your online Pro's height, weight and position at any time, so if you do find that your player doesn’t quite feel right, or you just fancy playing in a completely different position, then it'll only take you a minute or two to edit him. This can alter your Overall rating, depending on how dramatic your changes are, but you won’t lose any accomplishments you’ve earned.
Okay, that's the main part of creating your online Pro taken care of. You may want to spend longer choosing boots and selecting haircuts or beard types, but this is supposed to be a quick start guide so I'm going to move straight on to my first tip for boosting your Pro’s abilities before you’ve even kicked a ball…
Use The EASFC Catalogue
Your player begins with a relatively low Overall rating, but you can give that a jump-start if you’ve been saving your EASFC Football Club Credits.
There are loads of online Pro boosts in the EASFC catalogue and they’re filtered by your experience level, so as that goes up you’ll unlock more. You’ll find everything here from improvements to defending through to skills and shooting, so it’s a great place to spend those credits.
Because I’d played so much of the other game modes before really getting into Pro Clubs Seasons, I had lots of FCC available so I was able to unlock many boosts that instantly improved my player. But each one only costs between 300 and 500 FCC, depending on your level, so it’s worth taking a look at the catalogue even if you don’t have a great deal to spend.
Before playing a single game I'd bumped up my Overall ability considerably and this obviously gave me a better chance of performing well in games, which is what it's all about if your player is going to keep on improving. That brings me nicely on to...
Grow Your Pro
Your player will improve his abilities and add useful traits as you complete accomplishments in matches, and these range from things like playing a certain number of short passes or crosses, to beating opponents with skill or scoring goals from outside the box.
Obviously the fastest way to grow your online Pro is to complete accomplishments as quickly as you can. You can even target specific attribute improvements by getting the accomplishments that offer the rewards you’re after. Head to Accomplishments in the My Pro section on your main Pro Clubs Seasons screen to check on your progress and see which ones you’re closest to unlocking.
Just remember that your team-mates aren’t going to be too chuffed if you hog the ball and try to dribble past players so you can unlock a skills boost. Instead, I find it’s best to play your natural game first and keep a couple of accomplishments that you’re close to completing in mind, then go for them if the time is right.
With my Pro I need to score one more goal from outside the box to bag a very nice Long Shots+2, but I’m still only going to go for it if it’s the best option for the team, which is the other thing I really like about being in a club with my mates…
Be A Team Player
I think Pro Club Seasons is at its most enjoyable when you’re winning games and bagging promotions by working as a team.
To do this you’ll need to do all of the simple things well, like hold your position, make successful tackles and find your team-mates with passes. Not only will this benefit your team – and so ultimately your chances of promotion – but you’ll also steadily improve your Pro’s abilities, as the game rewards you for doing many of these simple things well and often.
Plus you’ll also pick up high match ratings for all to see, and everyone wants to be man of the match, right?
Play Your Position
You’re probably not going to be man of the match if you spend most of the game way out of position though, which is actually pretty easy to do if you don’t use the radar or follow the on-screen prompts.
I use the radar a lot in all game modes but it’s essential in Pro Clubs Seasons, especially if your player is a striker or a defender. In those positions you’ll spend a fair bit of time off screen, so you’ll need to watch the radar and look for gaps to run into or players to mark.
When you can see your Pro and your team has the ball, the game will give you a nudge if you’re not where you should be by pointing to the area of the pitch you need to head for. One arrow means you’re nearly there, two means you’ve got some distance to go and three means you really need to get moving. Spend too long with these arrows on and your match rating could suffer. Also, when the other team has the ball you’ll notice red circles around some opposition players. This is the game’s way of helping you out defensively by highlighting players that you should be close to.
There will be times when you’ll want to do your own thing – like make a late run into the box, or leave the midfielder you’re marking so you can go back and help your defence – and that’s fine, but you’ll generally pick up better ratings and be of more use to your team if you stick to your position.
We’ve played against teams in Pro Clubs Seasons who permanently had a striker in an offside position or a left-back playing more like a right winger, and that made it much easier for us to get the win. Don’t let that happen to you.
Think Before You Sprint
Because you won’t be directly involved in the action as much as you’re used to when controlling the whole team, it’s very easy to keep the sprint button held down as you try to make your Pro catch up with the play, and this drains your stamina very quickly.
Instead, work out if you’re going to be able to get where you want to be before the play moves on. If you will then hit sprint and go for it, but if not then you’re just wasting stamina and that can really affect your Pro in the late stages of games. It’s common to see teams lose in the last ten minutes of matches because their Pros have nothing left in the tank.
It’s far better to stay in or around your chosen position than it is to sprint everywhere chasing the play.
Wear Your Headset
A headset is essential. Your team-mates will be able to tell you where they are so you can think about a pass, and you’ll be able to call for the ball too. Being able to communicate will make a huge difference.
And don’t forget, you’ll need a headset so you can tell everyone to get ready for the best cross they’ve ever seen.
FIFA 13 is availble to buy now on Origin for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.