Before tackling the evolution of FIFA’s video game releases, let’s have a quick lesson on how the game began. Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA is probably the world’s most followed and favourite game. Over the years, there have been franchises that were born out of the love for the game but a careful look at history shows that the game started in 1863 in England. It was during this time that association football and rugby football branched off. People have loved kicking the ball even before it was officially a game.
The earliest evidence of “football” was in the form of a military manual from the second and third centuries BC in China. This exercise was called Tsu’ Chu and required players to kick a leather ball filled with hair and feathers into a hole, about 30-40 cm wide, that was fixed onto bamboo poles. This early exercise requires the players to only use the chest, back, shoulders, and feet while blocking the opponent’s attacks. They are not allowed to use their hands in any way.
Another version of the game from Japan is the Japanese Kemari starting from approximately 500 to 600 years ago. This sport, whilst not as competitive as Tsu’ Chu, is still widely played today. Players only need to stand in a circle and pass the ball to one another and never let the ball touch the ground.
The Greek’s version of the game used a smaller ball and played on a rectangular field with boundary lines. Players need to get the ball over to the opponent’s boundary lines as they pass it among themselves.
FIFA video game releases have always been great anticipation for many. Here is a trip down memory lane as we take a look the game’s interface and how it has changed over the years.
The first release of FIFA was in 1993 when it was still a 16-bit game. The game’s only feature was only the national teams. Player’s names were not used. FIFA International Soccer also became popular when users discovered a glitch in the system that allowed them to score by merely standing in front of the goalkeeper causing the ball to rebound and go into the goal.
Two years after its first release, FIFA 95 became the edition to include club teams belonging to the eight national leagues including the United States, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, and The Netherlands. The game featured the same mechanisms with a few upgrades.
The third instalment featured real-time 3D graphics, which became available on several platforms. This is also the version where the current league’s players’ names and positions were used. The ranking, transfer, and customisation tools were also introduced.
The only problem in this version is that the Brazilian teams had an error on the rosters including retired players and the American league used fake teams and players.
One of the biggest introduction in FIFA 97 is the 6-a-side indoor game that comes with polygonal players. This version also included Malaysia in the leagues and also was the first to include in-game commentaries by John Motson, Andy Dray, and Des Lynam to introduce the games.
This version of the video game initiated the trend of introducing quality graphics, FIFA-registered national teams, and stadiums from all over the world. The game also introduced the use of popular music for its soundtrack.
This edition removed the Malaysian league and indoor playing mode. They, however, introduced the Portuguese and Belgian leagues.
FIFA 2000 employed Sol Campbell to apply motion capture work for the game, using a computer to generate his actions. It is in this version that the FIFA introduced Major League Soccer, replacing the fake American league.
The 2001 version of the game featured an online version, allowing their users to enjoy the game whilst competing with other players. The game also included a power bar for increasing or decreasing the kick strength. FIFA 2001 was the first to include official club emblems.
The next instalment saw the upgrade of power bars to include passes. The dribbling was greatly reduced to let the players achieve a higher challenge level. This is also the last version to include the Japan National Team until FIFA 17 as issues arose due to Konami’s exclusive team rights. The game also introduced the league where top Euro teams or Rest of Europe not belonging to the top leagues can compete against each other.
It is also in this version that international musician Robbie Williams scanned into the game. Users can see the singer as he performs during the game’s introduction.
The first to introduce “Freestyle Control,” allowing players to kick the ball and pass it on to their teammates. The game also added more football greats such as Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.
The game included secondary divisions. This is particularly advantageous for users who want to take lower ranked teams into the top leagues of the game. It also had the gameplay feature ‘off the ball.’ This allowed users to control two players simultaneously. This means they can move a second player to anticipate a pass.
The game’s 2005 version re-released the Create a Player Mode and Career Mode. This is the also the version where the game included a first-touch game play, allowing them to perform true-to-life tricks and passes. The full Mexican league was also featured in this edition.
The game’s interplay was greatly altered in this version, giving its users a more in depth control of the play. The improved Career Mode also featured Team Chemistry, allowing players to know how well the teammates play as a team.
Nothing much was added in this version in terms of gameplay and graphics. The developers only added Emirates and Wembley Stadium as competition venues. The option to create custom teams were also added.
Players were raving about the introduction of Be a Pro game mode, allowing them to control only one player on the field. This way, users can focus on a player – improve its stats and skills. The version also included larger club selection with the introduction of Hyundai A-League of Australia and the League of Ireland.
FIFA 09 Clubs improved the online version of the game. This feature allowed its users to join or form clubs and create their strongest team. This is also the edition where the FIFA featured user-controlled goal celebrations.
FIFA 10 expanded their Manager Mode, including a new assistant manager. This allowed the players to manage the team’s roster and rotate the members depending on the scheduled match.
Improved passing system, player likeness, and the option to play as a goalkeeper were the key improvements in this edition of the FIFA series. Manager Mode was replaced by Career Mode where players can act as a player, manager, or both.
This is the first time the developers made the game available for Mac OS X. The version introduced some exciting features including Precision Dribbling where players had a higher fidelity of touching the ball for attacking, Player Impact Engine powered by a physics engine to bring real life physicality during interaction on the pitch, Tactical Defending that places similar importance on tackling, intercepting passes, and positioning, and Pro Player Intelligence.
This version introduced the Attacking Intelligence along with First Touch Control and Complete Dribbling, giving the players a close to reality gaming experience.
The 2014 version featured Human Intelligence together with True Player Motion. This also included the signature goal celebrations of Gareth Bale, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Released during Electronic Art’s deal with the English Premier League as the publisher’s Official Sports Technology Partner. This partnership granted the video game franchise access to all of the 20 Premier League stadiums to be used as a venue in the game. The agreement also included television graphics and the official Premier League scoreboards.
The first version to introduce female athletes along with their national teams.
The version included the Story Mode entitled, The Journey, where players can follow the life of the fictional character of Alex Hunter. Players can have the experiences of a football player through the character – how he started and how he can become one of the best players in the league.
Ultimate team ICONS were featured in all of the systems. The game version also introduced the Cruyff turn, an evasive football move named after the Dutch player Johan Cruyff.
The latest version of the game introduced several leagues including the Europa League, UEFA Champions League, and Super Cup. This is also where the final chapter of Alex Hunter on The Journey Story Mode happens.
The UEFA Champions League features commentaries by Lee Dixon and Derek Rae whilst the other leagues still feature Martin Tyler and Alan Smith as commentators.