We had to wait another four years for a serious rugby game of any description, but the disappointing Rugby World Cup 2011 was hardly worth the wait. Released shortly after that tournament concluded, Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge is another title to bear the great All-Black’s name and although it is unrelated to the previous one, it is just as good.
It may seem strange now, but in the early part of the last decade, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was one of the biggest franchises in gaming.
Skateboarding was perhaps at the height of its mainstream popularity and the first few entries in Activision’s franchise encapsulated everything that was cool about the sport.
Nine games were released in the Neversoft-developed main series, but it arguably peaked with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, released in 2001. Each successive release became less relevant, despite attempts to freshen up the formula with Jackass-style elements, before the two Robomondo skateboard peripheral-based efforts, Ride and Shred almost destroyed the franchise’s credibility.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a return to the series’ roots, serving up a combination of classic skateboarding gameplay and nostalgia, but it lacks the charisma and playability of the titles it seeks to emulate.
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.
As the first major rugby release in four years and the official game of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, it was always going to be difficult for HB Studios to live up to expectations with Rugby World Cup 2011.
HB developed the excellent Rugby 08, which was the official game of the previous tournament, and the closest to a complete virtual representation of the rugby world as we have come, offering a range of club and international tournaments with a match engine that didn’t make you want to scream.
Unfortunately, the developers appear to have rested on their laurels with this release, while the publishers evidently had neither the budget or the desire to secure the licenses necessary to offer players a genuine taste of the Rugby World Cup.
EA Sports’ biennial tournament games usually adhere to a similar formula that involves modifying the most recent iteration of the FIFA series and fleshing it out with authentic teams, kits and stadia along with specific game modes based on either the World Cup or European Championships.
These games often retail at full price, meaning that some fans resented having to pay the same amount for what was essentially FIFA with fewer features and only international teams. EA’s announcement that Euro 2012 would be released as DLC for FIFA 12 was therefore greeted with cautious optimisms for fans of the series.
Sports games have long been viewed as ideal candidates tor incremental updates due to their annual release cycles, but unfortunately, Euro 2012 is unable to deliver almost none of the components necessary to capture the atmosphere of the tournament and its contents fail to justify the relatively steep asking price.
In the world of tennis games there exists a great schism between those who prefer realistic simulations and those who favour an arcade style of play. For the best part of the last decade, Sega’s Virtua Tennis series catered for the arcade players while Smash Court Tennis and Top Spin fought for the simulation market.
However the disappointing Virtua Tennis 4 did much to demonstrate the series’ stagnation and has left a power vacuum in the tennis game landscape. Top Spin may not be casual enough to fill this void, but its combination of realistic gameplay and immersive game world mean that its match point in this latest battle of virtual tennis.