FIFA 95 (1994)
Using the same game engine as FIFA International Soccer, EA made some minor tweaks to the game, but crucially included club sides for the first time. The action on the pitch was appeared faster and smoother than the previous installment and we should also not forget the routine 30-yard screamers you could score cutting in from the wing.
Actua Soccer 2 (1997)
The original Actua Soccer was the first football game to use proper 3D graphics and for its successor Sheffield based developer Gremlin Graphic borrowed a young Michael Owen and goalkeeper Simon Tracey for the motion capture which was used to improve player movement. There was also new weather conditions like snow blizzards which meant getting the orange ball out.
Football Manager 2013 (2012)
Perfect for those who thought the managerial sim was getting so realistic that you needed a clone to play it, the latest FM instalment introduced Classic and Challenge modes making it easier to jump in and out of games. If you still liked having Mourinho-style control there was also plenty of new features including the ability to customize training sessions even further and an assistant manager that gets more heavily involved with those big decisions.
Championship Manager 01/02 (2001)
It’s the Champ that still gets updates from fans with its clean, user-friendly interface and the perfect measure of management control. Notably it also introduced the 'Fog of War' attribute masking which meant you had to put the time into scouting players. It was also the game that introduced the world to Cherno Samba before he disappeared off the football radar.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (2010)
Helping England fans forget about mutiny in South Africa and Emile Heskey, the FIFA tie-in to the 2010 World Cup managed to improve on the fluidity of FIFA 10 adding authentic stadiums, an online mode where you were rewarded when sore losers quit during matches and a Story of Qualifying mode that let you re-write history that Ireland make it to the World Cup and handball Henry stays at home.
Kevin Keegan Player Manager (1993)
Long before he was having a meltdown in front of Sky Sports cameras, the former Liverpool player lent his name and big perm to the manager sim game on the SNES. Using the Kick Off 2 game engine with three divisions and the ability to tinker with training schedules, scouting new players you could even read about performances in the papers the next day.
Perhaps the start of the evolution rather than revolution of the FIFA franchise, EA Sports introduced elements such as 360 dribbling, a new Manager mode and practice modes to hone your skills. Quick free-kicks and referee carding made for more fluent play and generally a more rewarding experience even if you did have to listen to Andy Gray go off on a tangent.
Fluid Football (2012)
The first mobile entrant on our list, Fluid Football put your tactical brain to the test serving up match scenarios to swipe players into position dragging defenders out of position leaving you one on one with the goalkeeper. Former Sky Sports pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys lent their voices for the game but don’t let that dissuade you from downloading it.
Football Volley Challenge (2012)
The browser based Flash game gives you five attempts to leather the ball on the volley using the arrow keys to move your player into position and space bar to make the solid connection. Before you know it, productivity levels are at an all time low and it's already time to leave the office.
International Superstar Soccer 98 (1998)
Apart from letting you play Europe versus Rest of The World games that usually turn up on Eurosport, graphics were noticeably smoother than previous ISS instalments, aided by the use of motion capture. Realism was a major factor as defenders backed off from attackers while shooting was hindered by a power gauge that usually meant launching the ball over from five yards.
Kick Off 2 (1990)
In the days when it was Kick Off vs Sensible Soccer, Dino Dini’s made the second game in the series much quicker, adding pitch conditions and the ability to play in a World Cup. Crucially unlike other football games at the time, the ball was no longer glued to your feet adding some much needed realism to the birds eye view action.
Manchester United Europe (1991)
In the early Fergie years at Old Trafford Krisalis created the arcade and management sim that supported four player action and let you play in major European cup competitions. In terms of gameplay you could play tiki-taka style and add aftertouch tricks plus have full control of the goalkeepers which was a first for football games at the time.
Microprose Soccer (1988)
From the same team that created Sensible Soccer you could play 11-a-side in the World Cup or have a six-a-side kickabout indoors instead. The action was a frenetic on both fronts but enjoyable nonetheless and a special mention should go to those video tape rewind-style instant replays after you curled on into the back of the net.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4
Moving on from Pro Evo 3, Konami chose not to make too many changes to a winning formula. There were slight improvements in the gameplay, dribbling like Robben down the wing was harder, and the through balls, the key to unlocking defences were more refined. The Master League also gave you the chance to nurture your own Theo Walcott with the player development option.
Sensible World of Soccer
Before FIFA or Pro Evolution was on the scene, Sensible Soccer for most was the only way to indulge your football game fantasies through a computer (and a mouse if you were skilled enough) The 2D great with the top down view had hundreds of teams to dabble with and there was always a mate near by claiming to be the supreme Sensible champ.
World Cup Striker (1994)
Essentially a much more polished version of Striker which was timed to tie in with that World Cup where Diana Ross missed a penalty, this time you could play in a World Cup, Championship or League or even play indoors. With improved graphics and stellar commentary provided by John Motson and Ally McCoist, this was a great way to fill the football void before International Superstar Soccer turned up on the SNES.
Super Sidekicks 2 (1994)
The sequel to the Neo Geo classic, SNK decided to ramp up the amount of teams you could pick from and added a key gameplay feature which was the ability to switch players. Essentially though it was the same fun, arcade action where it still sounded like you were kicking around a big ball of newspaper.
This is Football 2002
It's often the part of the game that causes outrage, but we had to applaud This is Football for adding the ability to dive in its game. It was almost impossible to nail a succsssful dive with the act of simulation normally resulting in a booking rather than a penalty. Visually it did a great job with player likeness and had the licensing sewn up it’s just a shame that it was out the same time as FIFA and Pro Evo.
Flick Kick Football
This app to put it simply is all about swiping the ball into the back of the net until you can't curl it around the wall or past the keeper. Take control of power, direction and curve to score from nigh on impossible angles and it's the beautiful game in its most purest but addictive form on a smartphone or tablet.
Tracksuit Manager (1988)
Back when games were on cassette tapes and the Premier League was the First Division, Tracksuit Manager was one of the first management sims that really let you tinker with line-ups and tactics. Your task was to win the European Championships before turning your attention to the World Cup with a squad of 100 real players to pick from and a surprisingly decent selection of tactical systems to choose from as you tried to avoid getting the sack.
New Star Soccer (2012)
The simple but epic uber-addictive footie sim is like Football Manager, Sensible Soccer and Be A Pro mode from FIFA all beautifully moulded into a Spectrum-esque touch romp that you will truly struggle to put back down. In-app purchases will make the beautiful game go longer, but it is well worth the money.
Virtua Striker (1994)
Last seen at service stations during the mid 90s, Sega’s coin-swallowing arcade game had big bold graphics with players that turned like Scott Parker and was one of the most difficult games to beat. So difficult in fact, that once you had finally mastered it you had to be dragged back to the car park.