For soccer fans, the annual release of the FIFA video games is one of the most exciting points of the year, with fans being able to see what changes have been made to the classic soccer game. While there have been some spinoffs over the years with games specific to World Cup tournaments and the popular FIFA Street series switching things up, it’s the traditional releases that audiences love.
While the premise of the game is typically the same, with manager modes allowing gamers to take control of a team to push them forwards, or people being able to create a player to take them to the heights of the soccer world. But with over 30 games in the franchise, which has been the strongest?
Updated on October 7th, 2021 by Kevin Pantoja: There’s no question that the top soccer gaming series in the world is EA Sports’ FIFA. That means that over the years, some of the entries could be considered among the best games anywhere, regardless of the sport. That makes it especially difficult to pick out the best FIFA game for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, or any other platform that they get released on. The ratings dished out by those who critiqued the games on Metacritic help to figure out which installments are actually the greatest in franchise history.
15 FIFA 08 (83)
A lot of sports games that were released during this era had to deal with moving over to a new generation of consoles. That is part of what hurt FIFA 08 in some reviews as the newer versions for systems like the PlayStation 3 got mixed reviews while the PlayStation 2 iteration scored stronger than the rest.
The biggest addition to this game was the Be A Pro mode, which is also a highlight of EA’s NHL series. The mode allows you to control one player (other than a goalkeeper) throughout an entire game, making for a totally unique experience on the pitch. Improvements to manager mode and goaltending A.I. were also welcome.
14 FIFA 16 (84)
History was made with the release of FIFA 16 as for the first time ever, female players were included in the game. That was especially timely given how much the United States Women’s soccer team had impressed around the globe during that era. That was a huge change that was made for the better.
The gameplay itself continued to be a strong suit, with praise going towards how realistic things ultimately felt, especially when it came to defense and passing. It was also appreciated that the female games felt different, similar to what the NBA 2K franchise has done since adding the WNBA to games.
13 FIFA 18 (84)
According to Metacritic, this was the last truly great installment into the FIFA franchise, as the more recent games have slipped in the ratings. The game saw some tremendous graphics bring the players to life in a new manner, while the improvements on dribbling and shooting were a welcome change to the gameplay.
The passing was addressed as well, with greater range and crisper passes being made available. Plus, there were small details such as the quick substitution, allowing a change to happen in the game which meant that everything just flowed and felt a lot more natural.
12 FIFA Soccer 2004 (84)
FIFA Football 2004 was a big step forward for the franchise when it came to improving the gameplay experience. It gave gamers a chance to control more of what happened off the ball, setting up their team and allowing other players to make runs, which allowed people to feel like they were dictating more of what was happening with their team.
This game also really stepped up the career mode aspect, enhancing things with the ability to train players, set goals, and build up prestige, which would affect player interest and budget. It was about more than just playing a game of soccer, which was crucial in enhancing the experience overall. That helped its standing among the FIFA games rankings.
11 FIFA 07 Soccer (85)
One of the biggest selling points of this installment of the franchise was just how many teams and players could be used. There were nearly 30 different leagues available to choose from, allowing this to be about as expansive as possible back when it was released.
That helped make FIFA 07 Soccer one of the best FIFA games ever created. The version for the Xbox 360 was especially lauded as a new gameplay engine was devised for it with improved controls and physics. There was also care put into the presentation aspect, making sure that commentary and visuals were on point.
10 FIFA 2001 Major League Soccer (85)
The earliest installment of the game to score impressively on Metacritic was FIFA 2001 Major League Soccer. It was released on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PC, while a Game Boy Color version was ultimately scrapped. Obviously, the graphics weren’t nearly as strong compared to later editions.
That being said, it looked good enough for its time and the gameplay worked well. Plus, it featured one of EA Sports’ signature soundtracks that always featured a memorable song or two. It didn’t add a ton to the series but was a solid game through and through.
9 FIFA Soccer 2005 (85)
2005 saw the franchise step up once again, with a real focus being placed on the passing in this game. It made things crisper and more fluid, providing more realistic gameplay, and although the manager mode wasn’t the strongest in this particular game, the improvement in the gameplay itself made this one of the best of all time.
This iteration also brought an online option for two players, which was a huge factor for the game. Allowing people the option to play against each other is something that enhanced the game even further, with the online aspect of FIFA being one of its strengths.
8 FIFA 17 (85)
FIFA 17 kept the majority of things fairly similar when it comes to the traditional gameplay, however, this game featured a huge change with the addition of a completely new mode. Adding in ‘The Journey’ was something fresh and instantly made this game stand out.
Creating more of a story mode to play, it followed one player as gamers had to take him through the ranks and was a welcomed change to the franchise. The story was detailed and allowed for a good amount of creative control outside when it came to his career and the conversations he could have with others.
7 FIFA 14 (87)
Because this was the first time that FIFA was on both the Xbox One and the PS4, EA took full advantage and really upped the ante with the graphics and the gameplay with the Ignite Engine being used to full effect.
It allowed this to be a totally new experience for gamers who had been playing the franchise for a while. It was more advanced and the fact it took the game up a notch really helped ensure that the people continued to play as FIFA moved forwards.
6 FIFA Soccer 09 (87)
FIFA 09 brought a big step up in graphics once again, with everything about the game looking fantastic. But it will be remembered for truly nailing the Be A Pro mode, which allowed players to grow as one player within a team, raising their score with a specific focus on the positional play.
It was a technical gameplay mode, and when gamers combined online with their individual players, it was a lot of fun to experience. The rest of the aspects also worked really work for a strong overall game.
5 FIFA Soccer 2003 (88)
This is one of the classic FIFA games that has stood the test of time, still being seen as one of the greatest despite the fact that technology has advanced a lot since this was released. It was one that brought in a lot of gamers as it has differing varieties in terms of difficulty, which made the game more accessible to others.
This game also saw a big focus on the stadiums, the fans, and the overall experience, rather than just the gameplay itself. Adding in better celebrations made it a lot more fun, while the step-up in graphics in comparison to what had come beforehand was a nice addition.
4 FIFA Soccer 11 (89)
By this point in the series, FIFA had established itself as the king of the sport, even though Pro Evolution Soccer has managed to give it a true challenge in recent years. But when FIFA Soccer 11 arrived, it was still the toast of the town to the point where it won several awards as the top sports game of the year.
The game found success by expanding the online aspect with custom avatars and boosting the gameplay on the PC version. Passing was given an overhaul, career mode got some changes made, and specific consoles had fun additions, with the most notable being the street football inclusion for the Nintendo Wii.
3 FIFA Soccer 12 (90)
A lot of people enjoyed the career mode that this game provided, which instantly made it a hit for gamers. But it was actually the changes to the specific gameplay that made this version of the franchise so great. The dribbling was focused on heavily, and it allowed for closer touches and more precise runs to take place.
The defending aspect of the game was also given a bigger spotlight, with tackling becoming easier, but also a lot more precise, which did also increase fouls as well. Making the actual gameplay itself as realistic as possible is always going to go down well with a game like this, and that’s what FIFA 12 did perfectly.
2 FIFA Soccer 13 (90)
The standard was kept high following on from FIFA 13, with another fantastic game being released that got a Metacritic rating of 90. The game wasn’t perfect, as the touch that even the best players had did often frustrate gamers, but the amazing graphics more than made up for that.
However, this saw a major step up with online gameplay, which made it replayable with friends. The game altered the Ultimate Team a lot, with seasons being added for the first time and the promotion allowing for more coins to be earned. It all made this a turning point for the series with Ultimate Team becoming the big focus.
1 FIFA Soccer 10 (91)
The greatest game in the history of the franchise belongs to FIFA 10, which scored an impressive 91 rating from Metacritic. EA put a lot of attention into the actual gameplay for this installment, which made it slicker and faster to play, with greater quality making for a more realistic experience.
However, the big reason this one ended up being such a success was the fact that the manager mode got a lot of enhancements. Whether it was the visual sim technology or the importance of sponsorship altering finances, the mode became a lot more detailed and it enhanced the game in the process.