With the football season upon us, we video game players are in a bizarre state of limbo. For reasons we cannot work out, the big companies opt to release their latest games well over a month into the season, leaving us with Raheem Sterling in the Liverpool team and the horrid nagging realisation that what we’re playing is now out-dated.
There is little that can be done right now, making the excitement we feel when we remember that the 2016 additions of our favourites are on the way increase as the days, even hours, pass. FIFA 16 is without doubt the game most players are looking forward to, with EA Sports’ effort very much the alpha male of its environment.
All the licenses, a comprehensive online mode, Ultimate Team and excellent gameplay, why would you want to opt for anything else?
Well, if you are thinking of leaping off the FIFA bandwagon, there are options out there… and here are THREE of the best.
Once the daddy of the football sim world, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) used to dominate living rooms and laugh wildly at it’s arcade-like FIFA cousin. Alas, in the mid ‘00s the tide shifted, and it’s the Japanese effort that has felt clunky and unrealistic for a while now.
Although the same lines are trotted out every year, 2016 looks to be a real improvement. New stumble animations have been put in place to create a more realistic sensation when dribbling and challenging for the ball, while reaction times have been improved, allowing players, if their own reactions are swift enough, to pull off ‘ball-glued-to-feet’ manoeuvres in Lionel Messi style. Defensive AI has also been dramatically improved in a bid to make playing computer teams more realistic, however, online mode is now where it’s at, and PES has long trailed behind FIFA in that respect.
However, the major critics seem to be leaning towards PES this year, and with the FIFA bribery scandal having sullied the game’s name a little, this could be the start of a mass movement back to the former hero of the football sim world.
Football Manager 2016
Unlike FIFA and PES, Football manager (FM, for short) sacrifices control of players for the realism of management. Although a football game, FM is very different in the fact that you are, ultimately, in less control of the outcome, which has carved it out a real niche. Other options such as Championship Manager exist, but Sports Interactive’s efforts have long been heralded as the best due to the in-depth experience provided.
16 is not a massive upgrade on last year’s version, according to early internet speculation, but the inclusion of dynamic rivalries looks to be intriguing. Now you can build your own long-term battles with clubs and managers through media interaction and results, much in the same way Liverpool vs. Chelsea and Benitez vs. Mourinho has become a modern day feud, while existing battles can die down over time.
The only issue if you pick FM is the release date, which, based on previous installations, may be as late as October/November
A real left-field, curveball option here, Rocket League has been a sensation over the course of the past few months. A free download for PSPlus members on PS4 – albeit that time has now passed – the ‘car football on acid’ game mixes the basic rules of the beautiful game with the thrills of nitro-boosted machines and insane stunts to created a beautifully simple, yet worryingly addictive, experience. It’s essentially easy to pick up and play, but, as the videos show, there is a real underlying element of skill needed to pull off flying shots and control the ball!
With all cars the same in terms of speed and strength, winning comes down to skill and more victories yield more points to unlock custom paintjobs, rims and hats (yep, hats) for your machine.
The game has build a real cult following thanks to its excellent online multiplayer mode, with various groups often hosting live-streamed tournaments. However, issues for gamers surround the lack of XBOX One version right now, while the longevity of the game is unknown with a lack of scope for major improvements.