FIFA 'Through The Years' Feature - 18/09/2007

FIFA, the longest running football series ever, is showing no signs of age. In this feature, we take a look at how the series has progressed since its PS2 debut.

The FIFA franchise has always been successful, ever since the first game was released in 1993. It flew onto the gaming scene with its new isometric view, when most other competitors were using side-scrolling or birds-eye views, and obviously the FIFA brand. It had highly detailed graphics and animations (for its time) and sold loads of copies. Fourteen years on, and not much has changed.

FIFA 2001 was the franchise�s PS2 debut, it came with a whole new graphics engine that allowed each team to have their own kit, and some players to have unique facial models. Something we take for granted these days. It also introduced real life club emblems rather than fake ones, so even back then, FIFA was all about the licensing.

2002, led by Thierry Henry, saw power bars for shots and passes included, and obviously they added new clubs and other licenses to the mash. Not much changed between these ones, but what came next was unexpected. 2003 had a completely new gameplay engine, which changed the way FIFA games worked previously. This time round, they injected the usual dose of clubs and whatnot, plus amazing graphics compared to the previous 2 titles. It brought many to the FIFA side of things, and changed the way football games worked forever.

The next instalment, 2004, gave the player the option to use lower league teams and bring them through the ranks until they finally reached the top division. Which was about the time that the FIFA series started collecting teams and leagues from every nook and cranny in the world of football. The newest feature was dubbed �off the ball�, where the player could simultaneously control two players in order to make a perfect pass. By holding a button and moving the right analogue stick, you could move a player into space and then pass to him using the face buttons and the left stick. Intuitive? No. Many, at first glance, liked the idea, but when they got their hands on it, realised that it was near impossible to perform. The third new addition, was �football fusion� which let the player switch campaigns between FIFA 2004 and Total Football Manager 2004.

2005 saw the trick stick and first touch system introduced. It was released much earlier than the usual late October release date to avoid clashing with now fierce rivals Pro Evolution Soccer 4. It also gave the gamer a chance to listen to the crowd chants during a match.

The next in the series saw a change of name, the now familiar two thousand and something name was swapped with an easier and more street style �06�. In this version �team chemistry� was introduced, and the off the ball system was left out. Although the gameplay hadn�t changed greatly, the team at EA were said to have overhauled the engine and rewritten half the code.

FIFA 07 was the series' first game on next-gen consoles. The Xbox 360 version was completely different, with much better graphics, and a new gameplay engine. The PS2 version had �interactive leagues� which were online based, and when your team played, you did too. The amounts of wins and losses were tallied up and an overall winner would be decided. Sadly, there was no inclusion of this in the 360 version, but it was promised for the next year.

FIFA 08, on the other hand, will be the first on PS3 and Wii. With the Wii version being developed specifically for the console to get better results. A next-gen preview for 08 can be found here.

So, the FIFA series has had many engine changes over the years, but that core FIFA gameplay has stayed the same. FIFA 08 is looking to be a bit more like its rivals PES, so look out for a massive battle for king of the footie sims this year.

- Tyler Roberts



EA Sports