Ask any football fan or gamer and they’ll admit that they have played away many an hour or 15 on at least one of EA’s versions of FIFA. From the colourful early days on the Sega Mega Drive to the near perfect simulation on the PS4 and a short period in exile during the early 00’s, it has been a rollercoaster ride for fans of the game. We’ve played our way through that history and picked out five of the best versions of the game for various reasons, and almost ended a few friendships in the decision-making process.
While FIFA International Soccer (FIFA 94) may have kicked things off for the franchise, it was FIFA Soccer 95 that really cemented their place as the kings of football simulations. Released on the Sega Mega Drive in 1994, it allowed players to choose from teams across six European leagues for the very first time. It was a colourful, wonderfully realistic game (for the time) and the result of many a broken controller and various thumb related injuries across the 94/95 season.
WOW, just look at those graphics! Back in ’96 this was the cutting-edge as far as gaming went. The Playstation heralded a new era, and FIFA were quick to jump on the money train. Commentary and the possibility to play indoors meant the game offered more than previous editions, although gameplay remained pretty much the same.
Following in FIFA 98’s footsteps, this was another in the FIFA series to feature a killer soundtrack (Fatboy Slim, Lionrock). Knock-out tournaments, customised leagues and kits that actually looked like the real ones all made this much better than its predecessors. The graphics and gameplay were also drastically improved, helping it become a bestseller in the UK, and deciding many a beef between school kids across the country.
FIFA’S DOMINANCE COMES TO AN END
In the same year a new contender to the thrown entered the ring – ISS Pro Evolution Soccer. FIFA was able to keep its dominance for another couple of seasons, but the release of the Playstation 2 brought with it the rise of Pro Evo as the best footballing game on the planet. With it also came the endless lunchtime discussions between die hard FIFA fans and the newly converted. By 2002, there was only one choice for the footballing connoisseur, and it wasn’t FIFA. The change in game engine and poor controls turned the franchise into a bit of a joke, which they struggled to get out of for the best part of the decade.
The prodigal son returns
The tides had officially turned in favour of FIFA once again with the release of FIFA 2008, partly because of PES’s decision to change a winning formula, and partly because of FIFA’s ability to capitalise on this. A new era of FIFA dominance dawned with the release of FIFA 11, a near perfect football simulation, with the Official Playstation Magazine giving it 10/10, the first ever game in the series to get full marks.
FIFA 16 featured female footballers for the first time in the history, and FIFA 17 is set to make history again with The Journey, a brand new mode that will allow you to make your mark on and off the pitch as the Premier League’s next rising star, Alex Hunter. It looks like a football version of Grand Theft Auto, and if that isn’t enough to get every gamers heart racing then we don’t know what will. Will it be good enough to continue FIFA’s dominance as the undisputed kings of football video games? We’re willing to go out on a limb and say, hell yes!