The wait is finally over, as FIFA 22 hits PC and consoles today. We have already test-driven the latest instalment of EA Sports’ football franchise here. To whet your appetite further, we invite you to cast your minds back to some legendary FIFAs of the past. Here are five iconic entries into the enduring gaming dynasty that is FIFA.
The third game in the series, this David Ginola-endorsed edition felt like a gigantic leap forward. The then-Newcastle forward did motion capture work on the game, improving on FIFA 96’s tentative first foray into 3D graphics. John Motson, Des Lynam and Andy Gray provided nostalgic thrills on commentary, and the indoor mode was a far more enjoyable predecessor to today’s Volta mode. FIFA 97 reinvented the wheel, and its follow-up would show how fast the car could go.
FIFA Road To World Cup 98
A huge expansion on the previous year’s game, the World Cup-adjacent FIFA 98 included every FIFA-affiliated national team at the time. In addition, nearly 200 club teams were featured across 11 leagues. Players were invited to take part in a full World Cup qualifying campaign, and could call up players for international duty that weren’t in the real-life squads. An entire generation got to defy Glenn Hoddle and restore Paul Gascoigne to the France 98 squad.
Not content with dominating the traditional football game market, EA Sports took the already-iconic FIFA brand name into the world of management simulations. While never a serious contender for Championship/Football Manager’s crown, these titles did boast some fun features. The stadium customisation and sponsorship options were a fun piece of micro-management, while the ability to import matches into the main FIFA games provided great synergy. As FIFA’s own career mode has got deeper, these games have been rendered redundant, but at the time they were a fun diversion.
One of the most beloved sports games of all time in its own right, the FIFA Street franchise took football games and spray-painted them with a hefty coating of SSX Tricky and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Cartoonish representations and gravity defying ‘Gamebreaker’ stunt shots saw the realism of the core series left at the door, in favour of fast, colourful arcade fun. Fans have been asking for the series to return for years, and today’s Volta mode is a nod to the Street era, albeit without the cheeky humour of the original.
The pick of the modern FIFA games, this iteration saw EA finally overtake Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series in the realism stakes. As well as delivering perhaps the best on-pitch experience so far, FIFA 14 also saw an upgrade to Ultimate Team. For the first time, legends were available in the mode as well as current players. Players could pick up the likes of Pele, Dennis Bergkamp and Figo, in a precursor to what would eventually become the ‘Icons’ cards. More recent games may be more graphically stunning than FIFA 14, but it is yet to be beaten for utter playability.