While the likes of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer continue to move towards recreating a picture perfect polygonal representation of a football game, one can’t help but wonder if something of the anarchic fun of video games is being lost in this drive for realism. In an effort to remedy this, here are five off-the-wall ideas to put the fun back into football games.
1. Lose a player when you score
Loosely inspired by chess games where every piece you take is filled with a spirit and must then be drunk, here’s an idea to even up ability in in-person and online games. Quite simply, every time a player scores, they lose a random player from their team, until only one outfield player and a goalkeeper is left. This would inject an interesting element of strategy into lopsided games, forcing players to choose whether they want to go for that 5-0, but end up with 6 players, or keep it at 0-0 and even teams until the last possible moment and then score the winning goal.
2. Extreme weather
While many football games have made some efforts to incorporate weather effects like snow and rain, these have generally made only a modest impact on gameplay – and in some cases have been almost entirely visual. Now is the time to truly explore these possibilities, with completely waterlogged pitches where the ball will barely run, high winds that turn your crosses back to you and completely snow-covered pitches with no bounce – all sure to liven up the average exhibition game or provide a new challenge in your season. Moreover, as the past few weeks have proved, football games are often played in these conditions and therefore incorporating them would heighten a game’s claim to realism, rather than diminish it.
3. Shirtless celebrations
To truly represent the madness of modern football, football games have to include shirtless celebrations, with the now customary booking following them obviously. Not only would this add an extra jolt of simulated emotion if used sparingly for moments of great importance, it would allow players to recreate the truly iconic moment of last season’s Premier League, Aguero’s winning goal followed by that topless, shirt-twirling euphoric run along the touchline.
4. Jumpers for goalposts
A mode where the goals are replaced by a couple of jumpers would not only give a properly back to basics feel, but also allow players a nostalgic thrill as they recreate the endless hours spent on kickarounds in the park. What’s more, with no crossbar, an LA Noire-style minigame where players argue about whether a shot was over the bar could also be included.
5. Indoor mode
For me, as for many other gamers, the mention of FIFA 97 or FIFA 98 means one thing: indoor mode, bringing back memories of endless hours spent playing with the world’s best players in a five-a-side game on polished wooden floors hemmed by glass walls. This setting also opened up interesting new gameplay possibilities, with players able to bounce the ball off the walls, setting up unique opportunities for headers and overhead kicks. What’s more, the reduced pitch size made scoring goals from goalkeeper punts a genuine possibility. While some positive steps in this direction were taken with the incorporation of Futsal into the latest FIFA Street, FIFA’s officially sanctioned five-a-side football includes kick-ins when the ball goes out of play and a penalty zone that’s off-limits to outfield players, making a true recreation of what was so special about the old indoor mode impossible. Of all these suggestions, it is the return of indoor mode that is most desperately wanted, an addition that would bring joy to thousands of football game fans across the globe.