It’s undeniable that football is the most popular sport in the world, and for the large majority it isn’t the mere act of eleven versus eleven kicking a piece of leather around some grass, it’s a way of life. One of the greatest managers of all time, Bill Shankly, described it best, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Now that quote might seem outrageous in the wrong context, but it’s a perfect summation of what it can feel like to be a true supporter of a club you share all the highs and the lows with.
This philosophy also carries over to video games, with many not just buying the latest FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer to have a little dabble with, but to invest a solid twelve months of playing time into. Here is a list of what I believe to be some of, if not the best football-based video games ever created. Each are based on their merits at the time of their release as well as their influence on changing the way others implemented key elements from these titles into their own games from that point forwards.
Fifa 10 (2010)
With the FIFA series releasing games annually for as long as I can remember it’s hard to choose one in particular that stands out from the next, and after a long-winded thought process and much deliberation I have settled on FIFA 10 as a particular highlight. This game brought so much to the table and perfected features the series had been toying with for years in previous entries. The game just felt like a great all-round package, bringing together so many aspects that recreated a compelling and fun game of football, from the polished menus to the revamped Manager Mode that was integrated into almost every aspect of the game from both a single and multiplayer perspective. Probably the biggest compliment I could pay to Fifa 10 is in admitting the time I spent playing it, which was pretty substantial considering I am, and always have been a Pro Evolution Soccer fan boy.
Football Manager Handheld (2010 - iOS)
Some of you make think it pretty insane to include one of the latest versions of the Football Manager series in my list, when there have been so many great offerings down the years, but to those I say you’re wrong. It didn’t take long after downloading this game onto my iPhone to realise that this was made for the handheld market and building the user interface from the ground up specifically for Apple devices was a gamble that paid off big time. Everything runs smoothly and as efficiently as the desktop version and the added bonus that comes from being able to play this anywhere at any time takes it over the top. I cannot tell you the countless hours of sweat and tears I’ve poured into this game over some hundred hours of gameplay, and with updates to rosters and such coming in handy bite-sized AppStore updates I’m sure I’ll be playing it for many more hours to come.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (2004)
One of the hardest thing’s Konami has been faced with since the release of Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (Winning Eleven 8) is essentially trying to compete with itself in topping what they did with this title. The comparisons roll in every year and each time fans become disappointed because they know that while newer iterations may have updated teams, more licences and an in-depth Master League experience, it doesn’t hold up in quite the same way on the pitch. I still have friends who play this game today, with countless man hours of editing ploughed into it to recreate current leagues and stadiums to compliment that on-the-ball experience that they haven’t quite been able to get anywhere else in the past eight years.
Sensible World of Soccer (1994)
The sequel to Sensible Soccer not only featured stellar gameplay for its time, but one of the most comprehensive manager modes any simulation game had ever seen up to that point. The game featured almost every single player from every single team in every single professional league across the world, including national teams and all competitions they could possibly feature in. That’s a staggering 1,500 teams and 27,000 players. Seeing something like this in a football game today is unfathomable, especially now with licensing the way it is, where obtaining the exclusive rights for just the English Premier League, for example, is a multi-million pound affair.
It wasn’t just a numbers game though, the gameplay shone too, with the simple eight directional control scheme concealing hidden gems to pulling off various moves and tricks with subtle flicks and combinations. The competitions and leagues were exciting to be a part of also and winning a trophy filled you with a genuine sense of pride. These emotions are still prevalent today in the Xbox 360 online community where you can download it digitally and enter tournaments against long-standing fanatics and more recent enthusiasts alike for points and prizes. That’s the mark of a truly special game, when some eighteen years after release its still played in droves, and for me at least, it’s not only the greatest football game of all time, but one of the great games of all time. Period.
Agree with the list? Let us know in the comments section below, or create your own list in the form of a blog and we’ll feature the best ones on the homepage.
Craig Bryan, NoobFeed
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