Why the International Tournament Games are Better Than FIFA

The yearly escapades of the latest FIFA release often get the footballing world buzzing with excitement, even if there’s usually about as much development on a year to year basis as paint drying. The series is forever going to be a money-making machine – but much like Call of Duty, it’s hit the figurative brick wall in terms of creativity.

Of course, there’s often not much that can be done about something like this, but in this instance, the same developers have often made far superior products for the same sort of game.

The biggest example in terms of football classics would be international games, and in this case, we’re going to focus in on the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Whilst it was clearly released in order to coincide with the hype behind Africa’s first ever World Cup in South Africa, some of the features involved led us to believe that those who work on the FIFA series are really starting to lose their touch as the years go by when it comes to finding innovative ways to make the game feel special.

After all, the fact that you can be any one of 199 teams who entered World Cup qualifying should tell you all that you need to know regarding the amount of effort put in by comparison. Things like that, in addition to scenario mode and a new two-button control method, proves that international games are just more enjoyable for them to make.

Which, obviously, makes them more fun for us as the recipient. Because of how infrequently these international tournaments take place we’ve all come to believe that there’s something special in the air when they finally come around, and that couldn’t be more accurate – especially in the gaming sense.

The landscape feels different, the environments feel unique and the sense of occasion makes this feel like much more than a generic FIFA button basher.

EA recognised the significance of the upcoming spectacle and acted accordingly, announcing prior to the release that there would be significant gameplay improvements over FIFA 10. This included high rates of player fatigue due to high altitudes (we’re looking at you Bolivia), in addition to more realistic player movements.

Ever since way back in the 90s we’ve all loved to try and guide bizarre countries from the depths of qualifying all the way through to the World Cup and European Championships, and it’s a shame that kind of passion has diminished ever so slightly.

But for the most part, that’s still what we as football gamers want. Every single year the same cycle has begun to repeat itself – millions buy FIFA, play a couple games against their mates, then dive into Ultimate Team for the better part of a year.

There’s such a lack of interest when it comes to the career modes and even seasons, and that’s a dramatic waste of potential. Replicating what you see in real life in a virtual sense is one of the biggest advantages for some – not creating ridiculous FUT sides that all start to mirror each other after about three months.

The 2014 edition was a bit of a dud, but if we can return to the glories of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – and potentially even the sickeningly underrated 2002 version for the GameCube – then we’re on the right track.