There is no shortage of football games, but which do the best of recreating the beautiful game? Here are the best football games of all time, from FIFA 19 to Sensible Soccer - and where you can still buy some of them.
1. The best football games ever and where to buy them
Football games, by and large, just keep getting better. FIFA 18 was incredible, but 19 takes it one further with an improved game engine and enhancements to the actually not-crap story mode called The Journey: Champions.
It uses the Frostbite game engine found to bring almost Football Manager style decisions to your rise through the ranks. This switch of engine also brings some ridiculously good facial graphics that really does improve the overall experience.
But let’s not pretend this wasn’t all about the four-way multiplayer. A red mark against the infuriating way to take penalties aside, FIFA 19 is one of the best football games ever made.
Available for PS4, Xbox One, PC
2. The best football games ever and where to buy them
Pro Evo unfairly suffers in the great marketing machine. EA and FIFA simply have more clout behind it, but PES 2019 is still an excellent entry into the long-running Pro Evo series.
Where some fans feel PES is lacking is in licenses; FIFA has the rights to use the majority of official player, team and stadium names and likenesses that PES simply doesn’t.
But for the hardcore football fan, the gameplay debatably improves on FIFA. PES is fast and fluid which is slightly unrealistic, but it suits games. FIFA’s slowed engine is more lifelike, but can mean that gameplay is sluggish in comparison.
PES 2019 is, dare we say it, the connoisseur’s choice.
Available for PS4, Xbox One, PC
3. FIFA Road to World Cup 98
Go back nineteen years in the FIFA series and times were simpler. All EA did was slap David Beckham on the cover and Blur’s Song 2 on the soundtrack and voila, a repackaged game that was basically FIFA 97, albeit with an improved graphics engine.
OK, maybe we’re being harsh. Road to World Cup ‘98 revved up the excitement about France 98, adding accurate team sheets, a stupidly fun five a side mode, and was even the first FIFA to successfully bring in the offside rule.
Coming out as it did at the death of the Sega Mega Drive and the rise of the mighty grey PlayStation, Road to World Cup 98 is fondly remembered by millions as the first foray into football gaming.
Try picking up a copy on the cheap.
Available for PC, Game Boy, Mega Drive, SNES, Sega Saturn, PS1, N64
4. The best football games ever and where to buy them
So there are football games, and then there are football games. The Football Manager (and Championship Manager) series of games have reportedly cost men and women their jobs and marriages, friendships and health. Ridiculously addictive, maddening and joyful all at once, the stat-based tactics game is a modern classic.
FM18 is a game only possible on a PC (or Mac!) given its click-based engine. You must pick a team and manage them to statistical glory. These games are all about feeling like Mourinho, discovering the next Ronaldo and nurturing lower league teams to unlikely cup glory. Sniff.
The 2018 version is so adaptable that it even considers Brexit as a variable in a game that is designed to be completely unique to every player. Settle down for a huge session – just remember you also have a job/family/life.
Available for PC, Mac, Linux
5. The best football games ever and where to buy them
This game is in here for three reasons: 1, its improved game engine made it a quantum leap better than the already great FIFA 13. 2, it was the first FIFA game for PS4 and Xbox One. 3, it is available today for £5.98. Buy it right now.
Its Ignite game engine brought, for 2013, stunningly fluid graphics and gameplay with noticeably improved AI. Actual reactions! Fewer bugs! Defensive errors! No longer is the computer an absolute master.
It also saw the return of the still-popular FIFA Ultimate Team which 14 carried online to great effect. Sure, it looks dated now but it costs less than a Starbucks and it’s a solid gold classic.
Available for (ready?) Nintendo 3DS, Wii, PC, PS2, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, PSP, Xbox 360, Xbox One
6. Sensible World of Soccer ’96-‘97
All rise for the king of football nostalgia. Sensible World of Soccer ’96-’97 was the culmination of iterative improved updates to 1992’s Sensible Soccer. It married a 2D game with a manager mode that had up to date data of teams all around the world and was available for the Amiga and PC.
Details like this made it one of the first games to bring in data and, dare we say it, nerdy aspects of football for fans that wanted something more than point and shoot. Enter the 20 season long career mode.
The theme song was composed especially for the game, and it’s called "Goalscoringsuperstarhero", which is amazing. But the real draw of SWOS was the granular detail of each player’s ability that actually did affect the matches. This would build the basis for the stat-attack of the Football Manager series and is a game fondly remembered for defining 90s gaming.
You can download a DOS version for PC here. Just be sure to check the file is safe before downloading.
Available for Amiga, PC, Xbox 360
7. The best football games ever and where to buy them
Bear with us – this is a football game. OK, so there’s not Messi, but you’ll need skills just as good to rule Rocket League’s online arena and surprisingly tactical gameplay.
You get dropped into a caged arena with little more to do than score a goal. It’s way harder than that. You can upgrade the rocket-powered vehicles to get the edge over the many online challengers, and there’s cross platform compatibility in some instances.
It’s a great example of a seemingly simple game providing hours of fun and blind rage at the same time. So, the best kind.
Available for PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
In 2002, just as FIFA became the global phenomenon it is today, a small developer called Point of View had a bit of fun with the idea and created basically what should have been called FIFA: Sunday League.
As the title suggests, you can be violent. Heavy yet unpunished tackles, special moves once you’ve charged up your anger and so on. Yet the game had a surprisingly cohesive career mode alongside playing matches on an aircraft carrier or against some actual penguins.
It’ll never be the best football game ever, but it’s definitely one of the most immediately fun. You might be able to pick it up on eBay.
Available for PS2, Xbox and GameCube
9. Championship Manager 01/02
Last but certainly not least, it’s what is possibly the most addictive, refined version of Football Manager ever. Back then it was known as Championship Manager, and 01/02 was the pinnacle.
Why? It was the first year where it felt like all the parts of the highly complex game machine came together to work seamlessly. Yes, it was bloody hard, but it was also rewarding by moving through matches and seasons faster.
Never before have grown men lost so many agonising hours trying to get Tranmere Rovers anywhere near the Premiership. This should be celebrated. And you can get it on Amazon for about £8.
Kick off is just a click away.
Available for PC, Mac, Xbox