By the time you read this, the World Cup in Brazil has happened. You’ll have a few weeks of emptiness before the football season in Europe and America gets underway – but what can you do until then?
If you feel as though you’ve played the latest, high-profile titles to death, there are alternatives for the armchair pro tired of FIFA, PES, Football Manager, and the rest.
We’ve compiled a list of superb football (soccer) games for Windows that you’ve probably never played but definitely should.
Awesome Soccer World
In my opinion the greatest football game ever was Kick Off 2 on the Commodore Amiga, released back in 1990. It is difficult to express just how great the game was, a development of the already brilliant Kick Off that somehow brought the tension and spirit of football to life through a joystick in a way no other game has managed since (although there have been some that came close).
Sadly, Kick Off 2 was the pinnacle of its development team’s ambitions in the soccer/football arena. Few games have come close to matching its brilliant although indie title Awesome Soccer and its follow-up Awesome Soccer World came close in 2010, getting a very favourable review from me while writing for a different website.
You can still purchase Awesome Soccer World for just $7.99 (£4.80) from www.red27studios.com.
You can see what all the fuss is about in this video.
Described as “pure soccer fun”, Stickman Soccer offers basic player graphics and intense arcade football without resorting to the nonsensical combo moves found in FIFA and PES.
With smooth animation, simple controls and action replay tools, Stickman Soccer also features a wealth of options, with the latest update including the World Cup and other competitions, new teams, a pro mode, a choice of 11 vs 11 or 4 vs 4 games, support for MOGA controllers and much more. On a personal note, Stickman Soccer has been my arcade football game of choice for the past few months.
Championship Manager 2010
Back in 2010, the developers of Championship Manager released a pay-what-you-want version, requiring interested players to pay at least 1p plus a £2.50 ($5.50) processing fee.
The game’s good name was built on the back of the development team who went on to greater things under Sega’s Football Manager franchise in 2005, leading Eidos to replace Sports Interactive with BGS.
Early attempts by BGS to deal with the competition were poor, but Championship Manager 2010 – and the mobile games based on it for iOS and Android – are really good management sim options.
If Football Manager 2014 doesn’t get your tactical bones twitching, Championship Manager is now available for just £4.99 (no longer pay-what-you-want) from the Square Enix website. The latest version, Championship Manager 2014, is free on Android and iOS.
If you’re looking for something a bit more in-depth and bemoaning the lack of online MMO management sims, this browser-based game is one of many online football management titles (although there are others) with a busy online community of real life opponents signed up, ready to block your attempts to guide a team to victory!
This free online game offers a detailed 3D match engine and a raft of team and tactical management features, which you can see below.
Head to www.managerzone.com to get started – hockey fans are also catered for!
Sensible Soccer 2006
The (to-date) final incarnation of the Sensible Soccer series was released on Windows, Xbox and PS2 back in 2006 and took the famous top-down view of the original run of games and replaced it with a FIFA-esque 3D approach.
Although derided by hardcore fans of the earlier games, this is one heck of a good arcade football game, one that you can still add to your basket on GOG.com for just $9.99 (£6). If you missed it the first time around – and a lot of people did, despite great reviews – it is certainly worth tracking it down and installing if you want a fast, multiplayer arcade soccer game.
Forget The Big Hitters, Stick With The Lower Leagues!
FIFA, PES and Football Manager might well be the big names in the world of arcade soccer and management games, but they’re not for everyone. The games listed above have all been released in the past 10 years and offer good alternatives.
There are others, of course, from choosing retro titles on old platforms to getting to grips with Sensible World of Soccer, which was cruelly pulled from Xbox Live Arcade back in 2007.
What we want to know, of course, is which football games you enjoy playing. Do FIFA and PES cut it for you? Is Football Manager trying too hard these days? Share your thoughts in the comments below!