Simulation video games have become a parody unto themselves. We’re unsure how popular titles like The Bus, where you moonlight as a bus driver to exacting detail, Farming Simulator and even PC Building Simulator are, but sports themed releases are gaming systems’ bread and butter. It could be argued that one of the first commercially successful video games, Pong (released in 1972), was a sports game—playing like a deconstructed version of table tennis.
Football, the most widely supported sport in the world, is a gaming category in its own right with all facets of the beautiful game well represented. We take a look at some of the best—and some notable mentions—old and new that we think are deserving of your time.
The annual instalment from EA has had some hits and some misses among fans since its first offering, FIFA International Soccer, released in 1993 but each new release is always hotly anticipated and commercially successful. The latest edition, FIFA 22, will be released during a World Cup Year on all next gen as well as most 8th gen consoles and PC, and promises “ground-breaking new Hypermotion gameplay” as well as a brand new goalkeeper control system.
For the first time ever, 11 vs 11 motion capture has been combined with an advanced machine learning algorithm—what all this means is, the physics should be more realistic than ever before. We’re eager to see if FIFA 22 will achieve anywhere near the acclaim among fans that FIFA 10 did—and also what will have us singing along to on the soundtrack.
Pro Evolution Soccer
The sometimes overshadowed but widely cherished Pro Evolution Soccer (now eFootball) franchise has been giving FIFA a run for its money since 1995. Touted as the biggest sports video game rivalry going, there were occasional years when Pro Evo outsold it’s bigger brother.
And we love to have a giggle at the names of the players and clubs that weren’t officially licensed; Neil Lemon, Roberto Larcos and Samule Dalla Boner were particularly impressive! We think the earlier titles 4, 5 and 6 are still great fun but the most deserving of your time is probably Pro Evolution Soccer 2013.
eFootball opted to offer a season update in 2021 (instead of a full release) to focus on development for the new title due for imminent launch. But in a significant departure from the game many have grown to love, eFootball will now be a free to play “football simulation platform”. Does this mean FIFA has finally won the age old rivalry or is it merely a sign of the times?
Gaming on smart devices is set to be the future of the industry—or at least occupy a significant percentage of it—after all, most of us now walk around with a computer in our pockets a million times more powerful than the processors that put man on the moon.
Football games are no stranger to the mobile gaming world. Here’s our pick of the bunch:
Casino games are the perfect match for smartphones and if you enjoy a flutter on the football as well, why not combine the two? Virgin Games offer a number of football themed slots simulators that can get the adrenaline going like watching your team play in a derby.
By far the biggest football title available on mobile with hundreds of millions of downloads to its name is EA Sports’ Fifa Mobile. The free to play team building game has a huge community of players who you can pit yourself against.
While the gameplay is compelling it does at times feel like a cash grab with the amount of micro transactions necessary to compete at the higher levels.
A great casual game to dip in and out of when you have a few spare moments, Football Strike is all about finishing. Playing as the striker or as the goalie in multiplayer mode, the object is to consistently bend the ball into the top corner from increasingly challenging angles.
Dream League Soccer 2021
Dream League Soccer 2021 is the best full match style game we found for the mobile. The graphics outdo some of the Fifa titles from only a decade ago and with FIFPro licensed players, it’s an immersive experience.
Take control and manage your team and tactics and compete in national and international tournaments. The controls can be a bit fiddly depending on the size of your device but once you get the hang of it you’ll find it difficult to put down.
Management simulators require an even higher level of involvement and remain the preserve of the truly dedicated.
Available for Android, iOS, Windows and the Nintendo Switch, Football manager is the long-term partners of AFC Wimbledon and current king of football management simulations. There’s a plethora of detail and options to manage and micromanage even before you get to building your team.
Sensible World of Soccer
Released in 1994 for the Amiga and an absolute classic among football games. This arcade style button masher might not have the graphics to compete with today’s titles but it’s still the most fun we’ve had playing football through a screen. Source a good emulation and get playing online but it’s best enjoyed against your friends in the same room.
There aren’t many video games that can rouse emotions from us like a close game of football. We might not ever step foot on the hallowed turf at Wembley for real but these games help us get pretty close.