Note: If you still have problem with Hotmail, click here to install a client-based Mail beta – Windows Live.
I have a love hate relationship with IAHGames. As an avid online gamer, I love the idea of having a game server hosted in Asia. And that the server maintenance observes the Asia’s off peak hours, unlike the World of Warcraft (WoW) server that goes down almost all the Tuesday evenings here in Asia. It may be foreign to some of you but believe me when I say this, millions of WoW fans in Asia are lost every Tuesday. If I had a business, I would have targeted these lost souls and created some ease-your-WoW-withdrawal-syndrome themes to my business. And I would have earned big bucks, since 2004.
I sort of hated (strong word, sorry, but thanks for the closed beta test invite!) IAHGames because of the way they handled the hosting of Hellgate London (HG:L). OK, the parent company Infocomm Asia Holdings did the right marketing and financing (how can you miss the signage and the decorated jeep outside Funan IT Mall?) but fell short on technology and management. Our Asian server went live before IAHGames could apply the crucial patch and from then on, our patch updates were horribly late compared to the American counterparts leading to Asian online gamers having to suffer from the bugs for weeks and months. In the end, IAHGames found a solution to apply the subsequent patches without wiping the game progress; in the end, I quited HG:L because playing a buggy game is really no fun.
Enough of history. Is FIFA Online 2 fun to play? It has some elements of Championship Manager as you play the manager role in managing your team. Each of your player has a set of stats and as your players level up, you get to customize your players by enhancing their stats the way you want them to be. And you gain level as you play the matches too – be it as win or lose (wining has more points than losing). There are football players and items you can trade with other online gamers (I have yet to find out how) so all these elements play like a typical MMORPG. And unlike Championship Manager, you get to play the match too!
I have to admit that using the keyboard to play the match is less than ideal. I failed to use my XBox 360 Controller that works with other PC games. Anyway, playing with the keyboard does make in-game text chatting a lot easier with other gamers. I always like the social aspect of the online games. Because the game pace is usually fast, you can’t really chat that much. But still, the game is much alive. And I have to say, the online gamers are a lot tougher to beat than playing against the computer team. I guess that is where the fun is.
Each online game lasts for a couple of minutes and joining a “World Tour” 1×1 match with another online gamer picked by the server seems fast (“League” is you against the computer), thanks to the Asia timezone. There is 2×2 match too that you can form a team with your buddy. But the waiting time was too long so we gave up.
Graphically, it does support wide screen format with the football players look 3D enough from a distance. The replay is fun to watch too. The close-up on the players tend to look cartoon-ish but that doesn’t bother me. The voice commentary does seem to follow the game well, sarcastic at times (maybe I suck badly). But of course, if you are to play for hours, some of the lines may appear repetitive to you. The game does feel random in nature, which is good. One time, one of my players was fouled due to hand ball. I was like … what?! Then there was a close-up replay to see how the ball did bounce off my player’s hand as he tackled the ball. Amazing. And some of the goals look so random that got me marvelled at my own virtual ingenuity.
FIFA Online 2 seems like a stripped- down version of the established football related games out there. But if fast pace online game with character progression is your cup of tea, you may wish to give it a try. I reckon they may give out free trial period like most of the online games out there. Who knows, FIFA Online 2 may be one of those subscription free games.
PS. Some of the soundtracks are pretty cute.