Throughout the years, the good people at FIFA (not you, Blatter!) have delivered us endless moments of euphoria, melancholy, and controller-bashing frustration, via their series of hugely addictive (Ultimate Team, anyone?) games on various platforms such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and even PC. Despite a mid-term wavering which saw many players defect over to fierce rivals, Pro Evolution Soccer, (admit it, we all enjoyed thundering in an Adriano screamer on PES 6), FIFA has since re-established itself as King of the sports/gaming get-together. Today, we’ll be counting down our own personal Top 10 favourites from the franchise amid a checkered history spanning all the way back to 1993. But before we begin, we want to hear you all saying it in unison. All together now…
“EA Sports, it’s in the game!”
10. FIFA 11
In at number 10 on our countdown, is – ironically – a release from the year 2010. We saw a huge leap in graphic quality when moving from 6th to 7th gen consoles, with both the PS3 and Xbox 360 offering vast improvements on their predecessors. FIFA 11 gave us the best practice arena of all time (see below) as well as a truly incredible soundtrack (this seductive Latin number was an absolute jam!). There was also great emphasis here placed on elite players and their ability to unlock games via moments of magic, and with a generational cast including Ronaldo, Drogba, Kaka, Rooney, Sneijder, Xavi etc, there was certainly no lack of entertaining moments and/or matches!
9. FIFA 07
Made all the more fun by a rare glitch which allowed players to regularly score via pot-shots from the halfway line, FIFA 07 built on the same engine we first saw in FIFA Football 2004, placing emphasis on off-the-ball runs, and movement. This game also introduced us to ‘Team Chemistry’, giving each side a unique rating based on their real-life doubles, and allowing for realistic link-ups, e.g. Iniesta threading through-balls into Messi‘s path etc. This edition does, however, lose some credibility points on account of a weirdly sepia-tinted pitch colour, and final line-ups for the game being confirmed – bizarrely – 4 days before the end of the transfer window.
8. FIFA 17
“Remember the name… Alex Hunter”. Or maybe not. FIFA 17 gave us an innovative new area to explore via ‘The Journey‘, a game mode centring around young fictional striker, Hunter, whose predicted projectory felt loosely modelled on the rise of Marcus Rashford. The mode itself felt like a refreshing and innovative move, allowing players to delve into the increasingly popular story mode style of gaming. Outside of this, there were improvements to career mode, and a greater emphasis placed on tactical battles, with physical defenders bustling pacy strikers off the ball, and possession-shorn midfields hitting opponents on the counter attack with great delight.
7. FIFA Football 2005
Building on the popular Euro 2004 game which delighted fans during the previous Summer’s tournament, FIFA 2005 – or ‘FIFA Football’ as it was now stylised – arrived during a purple-patch for the series, which also released a UEFA Champions League spin-off just a few months later. This was also the first game to bring in the ‘first touch’ feature, where skilled players could leave their opponents for dead with a simple flick to turn away towards goal, or ability to instant trap a high ball. One of the stand-out features of this edition was the unlockable store, where points amassed from playing could be traded for bonus items, such as iconic Italian referee, Pierluigi Collina.
6. FIFA 15
Following the switch into 8th Generation consoles with ‘FIFA 14‘, the franchise built upon the renewed success of the format in late 2014 via a stupendous amount of detailing on FIFA 15. From sock-length (the over-knee ‘Henry’ or under-shin ‘Grealish’ were both options) to an array of boots, colours, and manufacturers. Shirts could even be tucked, untucked, tight-fit, or with base layers underneath. But this game wasn’t solely about appearance. On the pitch, we saw vastly increased AI, meaning more realistic goalmouth scrambles, deflected shots, daisy-cutters from distance sliding home in wet conditions, and Goalkeepers surging up for corners in the dying seconds of matches.
5. FIFA: RWC 98
From the off, this one felt different. It wasn’t just the image on David Beckham in a vintage Three Lions jersey on the cover, or the mesmeric choice of Blur‘s ‘Song 2′ in the intro credits scene, ‘Road To World Cup ’98‘ felt different. Perhaps it was the nostalgia of consoles like the Nintendo 64, or original PlayStation, but button-bashing sprints past defenders felt electrifying, and for the first – and far as we’re aware, only? – time ever, we even saw the introduction of indoor football. Players could now trade the grassy knolls of the pixelated stadiums for the shiny brown floors of a gym/sports-hall type environment, with trademark shoe-squeaking sound FX to boot.
4. FIFA Football 2003
A hugely improved match engine, based on the foundations of the success enjoyed by the 2002 FIFA World Cup game, FIFA 2003 was undoubtedly the finest edition in the series to date, but somewhat harshly lost out to Konami‘s masterpiece, Pro Evo 2, in the critic wars. A huge advantage in EA‘s arsenal was the introduction of a superbly fun spin (no pun intended) on free-kick taking, where players could line up kicks dependant on which part of the ball was struck, and with how much power. The result meant free-kicks were often more potent than penalties, especially when using dead-ball specialists like Juninho Pernambucano, Alessandro Del Piero, or Roberto Carlos.
3. FIFA Street
Okay, okay, we hear ya! It’s not exactly a conventional FIFA game, but in 2005, the linear mode of FIFA itself was abandoned in favour of this experimental title where the world’s greatest could don their tracksuits and best pair of Air Max or Jordans to take things ‘to the street’ – literally! Clad with a soundtrack inspired by Dizzee Rascal, teams of 4-on-4 would flex their skills to flamboyantly deliver futsal-style match-ups of technique, flicks, and rabonas, on grimy locations such as Brazil’s favelas, or the gritty underpasses of East London. You could even play as iconic tricksters, such as Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Adriano, Zinedine Zidane, and – erm – Damien Duff.
2. FIFA 99
Everything about this one screamed ‘glory era’. Bringing in various brands as realistic advertising hoardings around stadiums (of which, there were 20 new ones, btw!), FIFA 99 introduced hugely improved air control, resulting in an array of spectacular scissor kicks, volleys, and bicycle kicks. Players could now trap balls on their chest and shield expertly from defenders for the first ever time, and of course, there was now the infamous ability to slide tackle the goalkeeper, resulting in instant – yet comical – dismissal. With an all-star cast including Schmeichel, Bergkamp and Owen – and a menu soundtrack of Fatboy Slim‘s ‘Rockafeller Skank‘, this was 90s football at its best.
1. FIFA 12
Ahh admit it, even that start-up screen (below) gives you goosebumps. Introducing a completely overhauled defending system, players could no longer press down on one button until the attacker was pressed and harried off the ball. Now, it was all about tactical thinking, defending areas of open space, and – above all – timing. The resulting gameplay was increasingly realistic as a result, whilst this was also the first big year for finesse shots, as that unrivalled sight of a 25-yard curler nestled effortlessly into the top corner. Throw in the hugely addictive success of online head-to-head seasons, and a FUT experience long before cash-rich corruption, FIFA 12 was, truly, the G.O.A.T.
Which was/is YOUR favourite FIFA game in the series, so far? With more than 25 titles to choose from, fans of the hugely popular sports-gaming cult have grown rapidly in recent years, with national, and world championships even held to find FIFA‘s ultimate gamer! From the Motty meltdowns, to this slice of Pique passion, get in touch on our CULTR socials to let us know your favourite moments!