EA Sports’ FIFA series has set the standard for football games during the current generation, combining great visuals with engaging gameplay. The long-running franchise has equalled and even surpassed its great rival Konami, but EA hasn’t always stumbled upon the perfect formula.
The publishing giant has released a number of other football games over the years, either basing them around different licenses or consoles and it’s fair to say not all of them have been well-received. Some of these games may have contributed to the image of EA Sports as a studio concerned more with cashing in than earning the critical acclaim it currently enjoys. However others have been important titles in the evolution of FIFA, introducing new features and innovations.
So with FIFA 13 released last Friday, Pixel Sport takes a look at some of the stranger football games from EA Sports.
FIFA International Soccer
Released: 1993 Formats: PC, Mega Drive, SNES, etc.
Let’s go back to where it all began with FIFA International Soccer. It was released back in 1993 on just about every single console you can think of, much like today’s editions. However unlike modern versions of FIFA, it featured only international teams as well as unlicensed players (these would not appear until FIFA 96).
While FIFA 12 brought us tactical defending, FIFA International Soccer was revolutionary in its own way as it was the first football title to introduce the isometric view that became standard during the early 1990s. This allowed for more detailed graphics and animations than what was previously possible and even now, it looks less dated than the early 3D incarnations.
It also happened to be the first football game I ever played, back in 1997.
FA Premier League Stars 2001
Released: 2000 Formats: PSone
Back in the early 2000s, EA sports won the exclusive license to the Premier League, but rather than incorporate it into the main FIFA series, it decided to launch a separate franchise entirely. There were STARS games based on the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and La Liga, which were localised and released in their respective European country.
The Premier League version spawned two games, the last of which was released on Playstation in 2001. It featured authentic kits and stadia for all 20 teams – something which was fairly radical at the time – but although it was based on the FIFA engine it somehow looked and played worse.
No more games were made after that and its innovations were included in the main series.
UEFA Champions League 2006-07
Released: 2007 Formats: Xbox 360, Playstation 2, PSP
Another example of EA Sports trying to build a new franchise around a new license is the UEFA Champions League, which produced two games based around the 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons.
The second title was built on the FIFA 07 game engine and was largely similar except with the integration of the Champions League in a manager mode called ‘The Treble’ that allowed players to take control of a European team in three competitions.
However the game was notable for introducing an early version of the Ultimate Team mode that is now a key part of the main FIFA series. Players could collect and sell cards to construct their ultimate team and was widely regarded as the game’s best feature. However the second best part of UEFA Champions League 2006-07 was almost certainly the chance to play in a stadium designed like the Champions League logo.
There were no more games in the series afterwards however, as Konami snapped up the license for its Pro Evolution Soccer series.
FIFA 06: Road To World Cup
Released: 2005 Formats: Xbox 360
FIFA: Road To World Cup ’98 was the best of the early FIFAs, adding a World Cup qualification campaign while still offering a full complement of modes, teams and competitions. FIFA: Road To World Cup 2006 was nothing of the sort and was essentially a rushed out version of FIFA 06 for owners of the brand new Xbox 360 console.
It featured only international teams with just about every mode you could think of omitted. It was however, the first football game of the current console generation and served up graphics of a quality that had never been seen before. It even played quite well too, but only Xbox 360 owners desperate to have a football game on their shiny new console were pleased with what must be seen as a desperate cash-in.
UEFA Euro 2012
Released: 2012 Formats: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 (Download only)
The most recent entry on the list is actually an expansion pack rather than a fully-fledged title. It should have been an interesting DLC experiment, but failed to capture the atmosphere that fans expect from tournament games.
Except from being accessible from the main FIFA 12 menu, it failed to integrate with the rest of the game, offered little in the way of content and didn’t have all of the correct licenses. It even excluded the qualification mode that fans had come to expect from EA Sports’ tournament games. A wasted opportunity and a waste of money some might say.