Long regarded as the world’s most popular sports video game franchise, FIFA is beloved by fans the world over for its super realistic gameplay, attention to detail and consistent ability to evolve.
That said, it is undeniable that some installments in the legendary series are better than others. While millions of dollars in funding, and some of the world’s best developers, ensure that FIFA always remains high on the list of the year’s top releases, widely accepted among avid players are three or four iterations that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Whether a breakthrough in graphics or a new feature in the physics of gameplay, there have been some versions of FIFA that represented a clear turning point or took the video game to a whole new level.
So, without further ado, this is our selection of the top FIFA games of the 21st century.
Widely considered by aficionados of the franchise to be the best installment of them all, FIFA 12 represented a major turning point for the series in quality and responsiveness of gameplay. Indeed, the game consistently ranks highly on lists of the best soccer video games of all time. Throughout the noughties, FIFA was a game that couldn’t really compete with rival PES in terms of physical play, with the appeal more owing to the game’s official player names, stadia, teams and more. With FIFA 12, EA Sports put to rest any criticism with a game that still captures the imagination almost eight years later. Sporting extremely realistic player traits, highly responsive controls and a leap forward in graphics, FIFA 12 was a truly iconic iteration in the series.
After the dizzying heights of FIFA 12, it remained a mystery whether this was merely a fluke or EA Sports were truly onto something. Of course, it turned out to be the latter, something that became evident with the release of FIFA 13. With even more realistic gameplay than FIFA 12, many praised this edition upon release for the improved player movement and jostling, a key part of the fast-paced modern game. An extremely memorable soundtrack coupled with the fact that this also released on Sony’s PSP was another big bonus for many fans. This iteration of the game will also be remembered fondly for the accuracy of the team ratings, which was one of the few areas in which FIFA 12 lacked.
This installment of the FIFA series had one major evolution that would go on to change how to make a soccer video game forever. Before FIFA 10, players dribbling with the ball could only move in one of eight preset directions, making for a rigid feel that was much easier to defend against during gameplay. Then, back in late 2009, EA Sports released FIFA 10, with its revolutionary 360-degree dribbling system that made attacking more fun than ever and defending more challenging. Now, it was possible to let lose the likes of Messi and Ribéry on unsuspecting defenders left trailing pathetically with the flick of the analog stick. The game was also praiseworthy for its incredible soundtrack, which featured songs from across the globe while the increased detail in player faces and stadiums was evident for all to see.
The only installment from the noughties to make our list does so by the grace of its sheer ridiculousness. Perhaps the most outright fun of any FIFA game of all time, FIFA 07 will forever be remembered by fans for the ease of scoring absurd goals. Defending was last-ditch, midfield play was almost absent entirely and attacking was more direct than ever. Shooting from 40 meters out would result in a goal more than half the time if done with the right player, while the silver bullet of the through ball was a surefire way to get yourself a goal. Yes, FIFA 07 was sheer madness and all the better for it.