GOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. If you’ve played against me in any of the past forms of FIFA, you’ve heard the announcer say that to you so many times that you’ve probably wanted to kill me. I’m being serious, and you know deep down you’ve felt it. The FIFA Soccer series is the best selling sports video game series of all time, yes football, better than Madden. My first experience with FIFA Soccer was in the summer of 1993 when it was called FIFA International Soccer. The game wasn’t beautiful in appearance but it was entertaining as hell. And the wins over your friends tasted oh so sweet (I’m lookin’ at you Steve and Brad), especially when you would put your player directly in front of the goalie and deflect the ball into the net off a header (biggest glitch ever). From there it was just a matter of improving the game every year, and the crew at EA Sports most definitely did that. FIFA 95 gave us club teams with fake player names, FIFA 96 gave us real players, 1998’s editions (plural folks) gave us authenticity and the excitement of the World Cup in France (Tubthumping anyone?), FIFA 2002 where I perfected the use of the radar and midfield shots (the epic Beef breakdown that ensued is still one of my favorite video game moments of all time), and today’s versions where if you walk into a room you think you are watching a real game. Today’s FIFA 13 marks the 20th game in the serious (not counting World Cup editions). If this game were a person, it would be my best friend. It’d be my best man at my wedding. Shit, if it were a woman, it’d be my wife, if it would agree to said marriage.
I’ve owned all 20 variations of this game (and the 4 World Cup versions too). It’s sad, but awesome at the same time. I pride myself on being a decent person, but I can honestly say, that the majority of my lowest moments as human being have occurred playing this game. Whether it’s an all night binge with a roommate til you finally win a game, or the reverse of that where you are just beating the ever living shit out of him until he finally calls it quits and won’t talk to you for a day or two. It’s a game that can make lasting bonds yet just as easily ruin friendships. As some of my friends have said, it’s a game that is “forged in hell.” And that “no good will come from 2 friends battling it out in this game.” But to them I say, get better at the game and quit being so sensitive about losing. I can honestly say that I have great friendships with people because of this game, and also that some people will never, ever, ever like me because of this game, that’s how in tune to emotions this sports franchise is. Whether it’s been hosting tournaments in Raleigh, North Carolina, to hurricane parties in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or the all day 3 TV, 12 team group stage tournament in Washington, DC, the passion from all involved in the game shows. And the memory lasts. You always remember losing in front of a big group of people, you remember the goal you should have score, the pass you should have made, or the bullshit save that the opposing player’s keeper made. It stays with you…forever?
FIFA Soccer to me is the reason that soccer even has any following in the United States. Think about that for a minute. The video game is why some people in America watch soccer. The game is responsible for the growth of the sport Stateside. Actors play it, rappers (Snoop Dogg!), NBA players (Steve Nash), and NFL players (Calvin Johnson, Andrew Luck) do too. Hell, I’m famous, and I play it! But aside from the popularity it brings to this part of the world, the game is just great. You can pop the disc in and play it and quickly get caught up in the competitive spirit.
I’ll give y’all my most memorable FIFA Soccer moments and you can decide whether or not you think I am just crazy or passionate:
- Bad-1 Cups – Located in the “Tundra,” the cold weather in the basement provided a home-court advantage that I would use for numerous victories. Shout out to all my boys growing up playing in these things. Sucks that only 3 people (Me, Pinball, Omeezy) ever won it despite the over 20 people who tried, and I was doing it more and better than anyone else (AHEEAAA). The Tundra is where a 90 minute video game isn’t abnormal, where “The Final Countdown” and “The Cup of Life” have a special meaning anytime you hear the songs, where you can beat someone so bad that they refuse to talk anymore while playing the game and of course where “I don’t wanna hear you breath” brings special meaning to brotherly love.
- New Year’s Eve 2004 – Where one game turned to about 30, and next thing you know it wasn’t about celebrating the new year but instead about getting that “last win” of the year. And if you lost that, you wanted the “first win” of 2005. Sadly for Omeezy, I got both those titles.
- Zoso- If you don’t know now you know. Championship belts and title matches could be called at anytime. We were the modern day WWF, WCW/NWO, and current WWE all wrapped in one. If you weren’t careful someone could walk in and take that belt. “A” game at all times. Home of the infamous all day tourney where a young kid (baby Aziz) thought he could take on the master (Me) a 3-0 win by me witnessed by everyone proved otherwise.
- Deathstar – Construction isn’t done, but it’s fully operational. Whether it was downing Moody during visits from DC, staying up til sunrise while your boy scares you and your opponent shitless from his snoring, or causing a fight between 2 close friends when one was visiting from Qatar, the game just causes memories left and right.
If you’ve ever complained that the computer is cheating, or that the computer has made up it’s mind on who is gonna win from kick off, or you keep your own score to the game aside from that which is displayed, or you blame your losses on the performance of the referee in the game, or that you pressed the shoot button but it passed instead, or that the only reason you lose is because the other person is a certain team, then you my friend have experienced what FIFA Soccer truly is. A game where “head” and “kufta” mean something special to those who play it. If you’ve ever debated the merit of this game versus Winning Eleven, then you know it’s in your blood. So enjoy it folks, and happy 20th birthday FIFA Soccer (not really sure if you call it a birthday). Thank you for growing up with me. Thank you for making lasting friendships, and thank you for ruining other ones. If you ever want a piece of me, you know where to find me. I done said it.