England fans might be disappointed with the national team’s early exit from Brazil but, for what it’s worth, our representatives fared better in the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), which for the first time took place in the same country at the same time as the FIFA World Cup.
Twenty-year old David Bytheway from Wolverhampton was one of two Englishmen to make the final 20 of the 2014 FIWC, but there was a familiar tale of valiant defeat as his German team lost 3-1 to the Brazil side controlled by Denmark’s August Rosenmeier in the final.
The final itself was held overlooking Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain and was the culmination of a tournament which started late last year.
Considering that FIFA has faced only nominal competition from its rivals since the transition to the current console generation, it is to EA Canada’s great credit that it has continued to improve the series with each year’s iteration rather than exploit its dominant position.
But this year it is faced with the dual threat of a resurgent PES 2013 on consoles and the emergence of a number of smaller, cheaper and original footballing titles on other platforms, such as New Star Soccer.
FIFA 13 doesn’t take as big a leap forward as its predecessor, but instead plays to its strengths. It marries the most realistic football simulation around with the most immersive modes while responding to changing trends.
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.
Up until now, portable football games have struggled to replicate the big screen experience on a handheld. No matter how hard they have tried, they’ve just lacked the modes, graphics and gameplay experience offered by their bigger brothers, even if the PSP proved that it was possible to deliver near-console quality without quite achieving the holy grail.
But FIFA Football is different and after loading, it becomes immediately apparent that this isn’t a half-baked attempt at capitalising on the FIFA name. The presentation is near identical to its console sibling, complete with the same soundtrack, licenses and slick menus.
The most recent of EA Sport’s tournament games, the Euro 2012 DLC, left a lot to be desired, lacking in features and authentic content, ensuring that it failed to offer players a taste of the tournament it attempted to recreate.
It even failed to include a qualification campaign, something that was first introduced to the series ten years earlier. Based around the European championships in the Netherlands and Belgium at the turn of the millennium, Euro 2000 allowed players to take their team from a wet windy night in Moldova to the final in Rotterdam.
Using a modified version of the FIFA 2000 engine, EA hoped to recplicate the success of its previous tournament release, World Cup ’98 and although it was a decent football title when it was released, it didn’t quite have the impact of its predecessor. Despite a brilliant soundtrack, its flaws are even more evident today and ensure that only fans with the fondest memories of the game or the tournament itself are likely to benefit from a return.
It speaks volumes about the dearth of quality rugby games in the last four years that Rugby 08 remains the best virtual representation of the sport ever made.
For years, rugby fans have cast envious eyes at football supporters accustomed to being treated to annual updates of their favourite franchises while they have been subjected to infrequent sub-par, feature-thin simulations.
However Rugby 08 has managed to stay afloat of this sea of disappointment with its engaging gameplay and portfolio of licenses making it the closest to the perfect rugby game we’ve ever had.
From the moment the intro movie played and Chumbawumba’s anthem “Tubthumping” began to blare out of the television, it became apparent that World Cup ’98 was like no other tournament football game that had preceded it.
Previous officially licensed World Cup games had been a mixed bag, but EA Sportsmanaged to replicate the atmosphere of France ’98 and create a game that looked and felt like it was worthy of the world’s biggest global sporting event.