Welcome to September, the month where EA unleash FIFA 15 on the unsuspecting gaming world! Actually, with FIFA games being released every year, the word “unsuspecting” may not be completely correct there… This is true of a lot of EA sports titles, though FIFA was one of the first to receive annual updates. I though this month we might have a look at the history and evolution of the FIFA series throughout the 90s.

Let’s get started! Up until the FIFA series was released, the home gaming market was dominated by soccer titles such as “Match Day”, “Kick Off”, and “Sensible Soccer”. One could argue that these games were all a little bit samey in their style and presentation. The original “FIFA International Soccer” was released in 1993, after much hype, on the Sega Megadrive.

While most traditional soccer games at that time, such as the aforementioned titles, offered an overhead viewpoint, FIFA offered a unique isometric 3D perspective, similar to classic games such as Head over Heels or Sweevo’s World. The game was later ported to the popular systems of the day, including the Super Nintendo, Amiga, 3DO and PC.

With this new style of gameplay and the FIFA license, the game far exceeded EA’s expectations and sold in excess of 500,000 units in the first 4 weeks. The revolutionary  3D viewpoint, the outstanding graphics and tight control system ensured the game was worth the hype.

The first update, “FIFA 95”, was released a year later alongside other updated EA sports titles such as “NHL Hockey 95”. There was very little new content, and the game remained similar to the original “FIFA International Soccer”. With a few minor tweaks it was really only of interest to those who didn’t purchase the original release.

With the release of “FIFA 96” the series received its first major change, with the next gen consoles receiving 3D real time graphics. Sadly the underpowered Super Nintendo and Megadrive versions received what could only be seen as a minor update to “FIFA 95”. “FIFA 96” also offered another major change. Up until this point the teams and player names in the FIFA series were works of fiction, invented by the creative minds at EA. With the release of this latest edition real teams and real player names were implemented, adding a new dimension for those who wanted to see their favourite team go right through to the finals.
“FIFA 97” expanded on this further by implementing motion capture to ensure the movement of the players was correct and smoother than ever before. It was also the first game to feature 6 a side indoor soccer as well as commentary, a staple feature of the series today.

“IT WAS ALSO THE FIRST GAME TO FEATURE 6 A SIDE INDOOR
SOCCER AS WELL AS COMMENTARY..”
1998 bought with it another World Cup, as well as another edition of FIFA. This time an additional title was added, and “FIFA: Road to the World Cup 98” was born. As well as further refinements and real life FIFA teams, the game featured a soundtrack that featured Song 2 by  Blur.  “FIFA  98”  was  also  the  final version released for the Super Nintendo and Megadrive consoles.

As you can imagine, “FIFA 99” followed the previous year’s edition (I’m sure you can all see a pattern forming at this stage). For this version the graphics were given a significant  update,  including  facial  expressions for the players, as well as expressing their individual heights.

Finally we come to “FIFA 2000”. This version was released in October 1999, whereas all previous versions of the game had been released around June or July. While the game featured over 40 teams of current and retired players, the new game engine did not impress the critics of the day. While the game was never panned, it was considered to be inferior to previous releases.

Further FIFA released have improved on the graphics and gameplay in a variety of ways. Maybe you have a favourite, or would maybe you’re just looking forward to “FIFA 15” being released this month. Hit up the Facebook fan page and let us know!

Written by Paul Monopoli