Offline game modes are a dying breed in terms of hugely popular FIFA series and that was made clear by EA Sports with this year’s disappointing instalment of Career Mode.
We could be here all day listing the lack of improvements, flaws and overall laziness that FIFA 15 Career was released with, and with so much potential this makes the situation ever more frustrating for players and myself alike.
Even through looking at other sports games from past and present, there are many avenues that EA Sports could take to improve the offline, some of which could be taken from these games which made them so great in simulating the lives of a sports team, player or manager.
And so we’ve highlighted three games in particular that we felt stood out in making the offline experience a memorable one, and not a repetitive and bland B-side mode that we were met with last September.
Football Manager is the ultimate managerial simulation hands down, thanks to all the time and effort is put in by the developers to make this game as close to the real life experience that one would go through as head coach of a professional football team.
In this way it already has the one-up on FIFA 15, which as a mainstream football game must have something for everyone, and it’s true that some people play the game just for the online.
But the problem is that EA Sports have completely pushed aside the offline fans with FIFA 15, and so to get us back on board, they could take a few leaves out of SEGA’s book.
Where Football Manager shines is through the amount of detail it brings to the manager simulation, from the amount of transfer possibilities to the realistic contract negotiations, we are presented with a game that is so much more refined and focused than the FIFA Career Mode.
This detail goes as far as retired players being given a testimonial game after years at the club, and its these small but impressive features which really immerse players in the game.
EA Sports’ FIFA is much more simplified than this, and this means players are very limited when it comes to dealing with transfers and other manager responsibilities, making the game ultimately a repetitive experience.
As mentioned, I don’t expect Career Mode to be this in-depth by next year, but by following in the footsteps of FM, we will see a much more enjoyable game for offline fans.
The NBA 2K games are ones which succeed both online and offline, and in particular the MyCareer and MyPlayer game modes are examples of immersing the player and making them feel part of the experience.
The main thing that draws me to 2K Sports’ offline game is the deep focus on character customisation and creating a story line for the player you create when you start off.
For those unaware, the MyPlayer game mode lets you create your own basketball player, whether you replicate yourself or make up someone completely random, and guide them from street rookie to the Hall of Fame.
It’s basically the same concept as FIFA’s player career, although once again much more focused and built with the same importance as the online game modes, not just alongside it.
FIFA’s player customisation screen as been the same since it was first introduced, with limited choices with hairstyles to the broken facial recognition feature offered (although this is just as bad in NBA 2K15).
The player you create on FIFA is always just a carbon-copy of your previous year’s and there’s been no effort to improve this whatsoever.
Although the NBA games really have stepped up in recent years in this field. With your player you can choose from a range of hairstyles, clothes and even add a voice to your star. For those that have played both games, you will know that 2K is superior in this sense, even if it could be improved itself.
I was really impressed with this aspect of NBA 2K right from the offset. All the scenarios that you read about in your FIFA player’s emails are actually played out to you through animated cutscenes as you play through MyPlayer in the basketball game.
With player choice and alternative actions depending on whether you complete or fail an objective add so much more purpose to NBA 2K, whereas most of your actions in FIFA are neither memorable nor important to the story you pretty much have to create yourself.
NBA 2K15 and previous games are no where near perfect, but they have a concept. A concept which means something to the player, and given some time and effort EA Sports could better this in FIFA. I don’t even know if they realise this potential this game has…
PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 6
I can only reference this PES as it was the last one of the series which I’ve actually played, but I’ve got no doubt that it was and is one of my favourite sports games of all-time.
Since then PES has gone downhill, but in their prime Konami knew how to create a great offline experience.
For a game released in 2006, it had so many impressive features in its own offline manager / tournament mode which I took for granted at the time. Examples of this would be the player’s ability to completely customise different teams’ kits (due to teams being unlicensed) and a respectable create-a-player screen that let you create teams from scratch.
If this could be done almost ten years ago, I don’t see why EA Sports have ignored some of Career Mode’s best attributes and almost abandoned its whole premise which once made the series great.
EA Sports must take these three examples and build on them if they want to retain the offline players. They have to take advantage of the next-gen consoles that are eager to make a name for themselves and they could do this if they took one minute away from Ultimate Team.
I truly hope FIFA 16 will be special, especially when thinking about the never-ending possibilities and the potential of the franchise as a whole.