The Versed continues its series looking at the games that are played competitively by focusing on EA’s long-running FIFA series.
There would be those out there who disparage the FIFA series due to the fact that sport-sims aren’t real games. However, these would be the sort of gamers that probably sit in their basement dressed as Harry Potter rolling dice to upgrade their paladin. That’s not a slight on those people. They make up the majority of our readership!
If it’s in the game
FIFA is a veteran of the video game world. The first incarnation came more than 25 years ago. Originally entitled EA soccer during development but the released as FIFA International Soccer. (Or more informally FIFA 94.) At the time the game broke new ground. Popular football sims at the time were mostly top-down, ala Sensible Soccer. (Yes we loved it too.) But EA changed the game by introducing an isometric view, giving a more realistic presentation that was to become their calling card.
FIFA Vs PES
As consoles developed so did EA’s football sim, becoming an annual release it went from strength to strength but it was not alone in its division. As any kid living around the end of the ’90s will tell you it had stern competition in the form of Konami’s excellent Pro Evolution Soccer series. Pro Evo was considered the thinking man’s game. FIFA had the edge in terms of sparkle with its official licenses, better menu system and if you are being wholeheartedly honest it was just more polished.
However, Pro Evo just understood the beautiful game and it showed. The build-up play in Pro Evo was methodical and tactical. Its EA rival played more like a game of basketball with frenetic, end to end arcade-y gameplay.
The rivalry continued but eventually, EA’s series started to accelerate away from its rivals. They smartly concentrated on getting the gameplay right and once they had achieved a decent football simulation they simply needed to add a couple of killer game modes and the title of definitive football sim was theirs. They did this with Their Ultimate Team mode, this alongside the career mode and coupled with the gameplay and great graphics made FIFA uncatchable. Since then the title has gone from strength to strength.
Since becoming number one EA has not needed to reinvent the wheel, therefore every new incarnation of the game comes with some subtle tweaks and improvements. In fact, the only really significant change to happen in the last few years was the addition of the entertaining RPG-like add on, The Journey. This takes you through the life of a footballer, Alex Hunter as you try to help him reach the pinnacle of world football.
FIFA as an eSport
Although eSports are technically any electronic sport that is played competitively, we tend to think of them as contests where there are monetary prizes on the line for the winners of said tournaments. Like many other eSports, FIFA fulfils this criterion. The FIFA World Cup, in particular, has a massive prize pot with the winner taking home a cool quarter of a million dollars. Okay, so that doesn’t place it at the top of the prize ranking, but it is no small prize either.
Should I buy it?
Well, simply yes. If you like football that is. If you are not a fan of sports games then I’d give it a miss. Also, it might be the wrong time of year to pick up a copy. The new incarnation, FIFA 20 is due out shortly and even if you don’t want the most up to date copy picking up a copy of an older version will be far cheaper once that happens.