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All times stated are UK

  1. 50 sport video games that shaped our lives

    From Pong to Pro Evo, Fifa to Fight Night, Mario Kart to Madden. Every game means something to someone.

    The line between the real and virtual world is now almost indistinguishable, but back when (some) BBC Sport reporters were getting their first pixilated thrills it came on gaming systems that might today be considered antiques.

    Now, with the majority of sport on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic, many people are using those virtual platforms to get their fix.

    So - in the name of research, of course - we fired up some vintage consoles and dusted off our old controllers to bring you the 50 sport video games that have shaped our lives, including some newer releases that pick up the torch.

    This is not a definitive list of the greatest games with the crispest graphics or slickest simulations, but rather those, we feel, that broke new ground or set the benchmark for others that followed.

    The titles, spread across numerous eras and a range of sports, are listed in alphabetical order and we have dug out a clip to give you a taste of what each is like.

    We have also enlisted the help of some of the masterminds behind the magic, the recognisable voices and ground-breaking developers to tell you about the titles and reveal their all-time favourite games.

    We apologise in advance for making you load up that save you swore you'd never touch again...

  2. Get Involved


    Now, here is where we need your help.

    Have a look through our list and do your fellow sport fans a favour by letting them know the games you rate and those you hate.

    To do so, simply use the thumb icons on the bottom of each review - click the thumb up icon to recommend it, or the thumb down to suggest you think people should give it a miss.

    Then jump on social media and tell us about your all-time personal favourites or the ones you think should have made the list.

    Just use the hashtag #mybestsportvideogame to let us know.

    Contributors: Chris Bevan, Alex Bysouth, Phil Dawkes, Karen Fazackerley, Shamoon Hafez, Iain Hepburn, Nesta McGregor, Chris Osborne, Martin Richardson, Gary Rose, Tom Rostance, Kal Sajad, Emma Sanders, Jack Skelton, Ellie Thomason.

  3. Actua Soccer

    Gremlin Interactive

    View more on youtube

    Before the duopoly of Pro Evo and Fifa made mincemeat of the competition, the console football market was a bit of a wild west.

    Almost anyone could, and did, have a go, leading to the likes of Michael Owen’s WLS, Striker 96 and even Chris Kamara’s Street Soccer.

    It was an ugly landscape, and so gamers held their breath when the Sony PlayStation was launched to much fanfare in the autumn of 1995. Which would be the must-have football game at launch?

    Step forwards Actua Soccer. What it lacked in EA polish it made up for in the first real 3D game engine with players modelled on the movements of the Premier League’s own early Andy Serkis, Andy Sinton - honestly.

    It might not have aged well but at the time this was the business. You could only play as international sides in the original game, which was a major blow, but on the other hand you had real names, different camera angles and the ultimate trump card - commentary from the GOAT Barry Davies.

    Reality fix: This was football from the arcade/Sensible Soccer route of out and out pace. There’s a lot of running at backtracking defences. Tiki-taka won’t get you far and you won’t need any of your holding down of shoulder buttons or such nonsense. You can pass or you can shoot.

    Fun factor: You could load up and play straight away with zero fuss, and the two player mode was a major selling point.

    Platforms: Windows, Mac, PlayStation, Sega Saturn.


  4. Brian Lara Cricket


    View more on youtube

    In the mid-1990s, West Indian Brian Charles Lara was already a sporting legend in the making, so who better to be the face of the most iconic cricket computer game of all time?

    Arguably the most popular release was the 1998 edition on the PlayStation. As England prepared to host the World Cup the following summer, cricket fever had hit the nation and, as such, it was a game which transcended beyond your hardcore cricket fan.

    The 3D graphics were complemented by a commentary pairing of Test Match Special’s very own Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott, with cheeky quips such as “it’s in the air and that’s a wonderful catch… by the man in row Z”.

    And for a bit of added fun, you could enter one of several cheat codes. ‘BIGBALLS’ to play with a beach ball or ‘BUTTERFINGERS’ to make the fielder drop every catch.

    One of the more controversial cheats, ‘GETBRIBE’ would make sure you never lost a match.

    Reality fix: All of the Test-playing nations and their players featured, including accurate batting and bowling data. But the game heavily favoured the batsman, it was far easier to hit every ball for six into the pixelated crowd than it was to bowl a yorker.

    Fun factor: Fancy donning the whites and playing in an Ashes series? Sorted. How about a crack at a World Cup tournament? No problem. Or maybe you just fancy a little practice in the nets to brush up on your technique? Let’s do it.

    Platforms: Commodore, Sega Mega Drive, PC, PlayStation, Xbox.


  5. California Games

    Epyx Inc.

    View more on youtube

    Come for the surfing, stay for the Hacky sack.

    Marooned in the bedroom of a suburban Birmingham three-bed semi, California Games was the closest I, or indeed anyone I knew, would come to rollerskating past palm trees along a beachside boulevard.

    A collection of sporting min-games, all played out in the sun, California Games was essentially a USA west coast Olympics.

    It moves from frantic BMX-ing to the almost yoga-levels of calming Hacky sack (keepy-uppies with a bean bag). Nobody knew how to master the surfing, though.

    Reality fix: This is exactly how 10-year-old me imagined Santa Monica and it's exactly how I still imagine it.

    Fun factor: The surfing was, if memory serves, genuinely frustrating, but everything else is a blast.

    Platforms: Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Mega Drive, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, NES, MSX and Master System.


  6. 'I changed the way Actua wanted to do it'

    How I did the commentary for Actua Soccer

    Barry Davies

    Actua Soccer commentator

    The company behind Actua Software (Gremlin Interactive) got in touch with my agent, it was as simple as that. I had really no conception of what they wanted to do - or very little, anyway. Then I went to see them and I actually changed the way they wanted to do it.

    I told them you cannot use the same way of identifying the player every time he touches the ball - it has got to be at different levels depending where he is on the pitch, as I would do when commentating normally.

    So I gave them about five different versions of every player’s name, changing the emphasis each time. That probably gave them more work to do but, as a result, it sounded more realistic in my opinion.

    It took a while to get through all those player names anyway, but I made the whole process longer by asking for that extra detail. Then they brought in Trevor Brooking as my co-commentator. We recorded most of those links separately, but there were a few where we did them together.

    It was all a lot of fun to do, but it was really quite a challenge to do it and to make it sound as realistic as possible.

  7. Colin McRae Rally


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    There aren’t too many things more satisfying than ragging a rally car around a dirt track at top speed, even if it’s just for a virtual thrill.

    Crunching through the gears and throttling the grunting engine of Colin McRae's Subaru Impreza while ignoring your co-driver’s instructions proved a great fix for all wannabe petrolheads.

    Colin McRae Rally wasn’t the first of its kind but became a bestseller in the UK following its debut in 1998 - it’s since been re-imagined as DiRT Rally and remains arguably the best of its genre.

    Reality fix: The original game has stood the test of the time and wouldn’t look too out of place in a seaside arcade today. It featured seven official World Rally Championship stages, plus Indonesia.

    Fun factor: Good, old-fashioned arcade racing fun. More recent additions are far more in-depth but also harder to master.

    Platforms: PlayStation, PC, Xbox, Game Boy, Wii, Nintendo DS, mobile.


  8. Daley Thompson’s Decathlon

    Ocean Software

    You watched Daley Thompson destroy his opponents at the 1984 Olympics, and by Christmas of the same year you could emulate him by trashing your joystick or killing your keyboard - if you avoided a strained wrist that is.

    One of the very first examples of software being endorsed by a star sportsman, Daley’s Decathlon was not the only 'run, jump and throw’ game to appear on home computers on the back of the success of Track and Field and Hyper Sports in the arcades, but it is the best remembered from that era.

    The aim is to progress through each of the 10 events by meeting the required time or distance - but you always have an eye on the record, especially if your friend, or sibling, holds it and he or she is sitting next to you with a smug grin on their face.

    Each event had it’s own challenge - from the frantic keyboard button-bashing or joystick waggling of the 100m and 400m sprint, to finding the optimum angle of release for the javelin or shot-put or the tricky timings needed to execute the high jump and pole vault.

    It definitely wasn’t the graphics that drew you in but, like many classic games of that era, its simplicity was all part of the spell that kept you coming back for more - trying to beat your best score.

    View more on youtube

    Reality fix: You follow the schedule of an actual decathlon over two days - not in real time, obviously. Only three keys were needed - or one button if you used the joystick - but a lot of dedication was required.

    Fun factor: People don’t really play games that ask them to smash the living daylights out of their device or controller anymore, but they lapped them up in the mid 1980s.

    Daley’s Super-Test came out the following year, giving you the chance to try giant slalom, ski jumping and take penalties. All of which I am sure the man himself excelled at too.

    Platforms: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum.


  9. Destruction Derby 2


    View more on youtube

    Destruction Derby was one of the first car games out for the new PlayStation but it was the sequel which perfected the genre. Namely, smashing the hell out of your car and winning.

    DD2 took the most fun part of a racing game - if we’re being honest - the high-speed wreck, and made it the objective. A straight race was an option but the real fun to be had was in the destruction derby mode, where you took part in a huge circular arena and smashed each other to bits. Last car standing wins.

    It was a vast improvement on the original, with huge jumps, thrash metal and A-Team style flips. ROADKILL!

    Reality fix: I couldn’t say how much damage a Pontiac can sustain and still drive - but it’s not this much...

    Fun factor: Enough actual racing to keep you coming back for more, but it’s the smash-em-up arenas where the real fun is to be found.

    Platforms: PlayStation, PC.


  10. My top three - 'Madden is more than a game'

    Steffan Powell

    BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat gaming reporter

    Madden NFL 2001

    Madden is top of my list because it’s more than a game. For over 20 years now it’s been a gateway drug for players in the UK to fall in love with a brand new sport. I’ve had moments of sheer, scream the house down joy when playing (a late Hail Mary for the win). I’ve also had moments of utter, expletive-laden frustration with it - and games that evoke those reactions and emotions are keepers.

    Shout out especially to 2001’s version. That’s when my passing interest in the NFL became an obsession and that game is part of the reason why. It was the first Madden of the PS2 generation and was the version with one of the biggest leaps forward in terms of playability, visuals and depth in my opinion.

    I will tell anyone who’s willing to listen that there’s no way the NFL would be selling out Wembley Stadium three times over every year if it wasn’t for this series of games.

    Jonah Lomu Rugby

    Very few sports games released so long ago are still spoken about with such reverence as Jonah Lomu Rugby. It captured the essence and spirit of the sport and was really fun to play. I still remember the obscene last-ditch tackle I made (in the game) in 1998 when playing against my mate Dan - putting his winger into touch in the dying seconds of our match to win by a point! I will never let him forget it.

    Rugby titles have come and gone since but none have come close to leaving the legacy of this one. So much so, that one of the candidates to take over as head of World Rugby has cited the failure to match its success as one of the reasons why the sport is struggling to grow with new audiences.

    Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

    Is it a sports game? It’s close enough. Fast, fun and frantic - the best multiplayer experience around. Name me a better feeling than hitting your mate with a red shell on the final straight to overtake and win? I’ll wait…

    Honourable mentions for you wannabe coaches and managers out there: Football Manager, Cricket Captain.

  11. Disc Jam

    High Horse Entertainment

    View more on youtube

    Set in a sci-fi arena, Disc Jam is a future-sport mash-up of tennis, frisbee and air hockey - the only rule: stop the disc from crossing your baseline, or it will explode.

    It’s a fast and frenetic multiplayer game that requires quick reflexes and strategic shot planning. Its setting is what makes it stand out against traditional sport sims, although the hoped-for esports scene never really materialised for it.

    Reality fix: Apart from some of the customisable outfits for your character, there’s not a lot of reality on show here.

    Fun factor: You can get some really tense multiplayer matches going if you pair up with someone of similar skill, which for most of us is very low. Doubles matches are a real test of friendship.

    Platforms: PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.


  12. F1


    View more on youtube

    This series is to Formula 1 what the Fifa series is to football. Accessible, fun and gorgeous to look at.

    It is comfortably the most polished of any game that replicates F1 racing and is packed with features that really make you feel like you are taking on the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

    While many other racing games are perhaps at their best in mulitplayer against other real-life opponents, the career mode here really enhances the solo experience with players taking part in post-race interviews, where the answers you give can play a significant role in attracting interest from the bigger teams.

    There's enough realism in this game to satisfy hardcore racers, while it is easy enough to pick up and play for beginners to have fun with too.

    With the real F1 season currently on hold because of the coronavirus, this is the game the official F1 series is using to plug the gap, with real-life racers like Lando Norris regularly taking part alongside other sport personalities like Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, England cricketer Ben Stokes and golfer Ian Poulter.

    Reality fix: Car handling has improved as the series has developed and in F1 2019 you can almost feel every vibration, every skid, and every heavy bump when you skip over the kerbs. The game is also the most photo-realistic of the options out there while the more recent additions of post-race interviews enhance the off-track realism part of the game.

    Fun factor: Pulling off a bold overtake or holding off a rival for a place on the podium are genuinely thrilling experiences, while the variety of assists that can be turned on or off help to ensure it rarely frustrates enough to put off F1 fans.

    Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC.


  13. Fifa

    EA Sports

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    EA Sports…it’s in the…

    If you found yourself shouting or mouthing “game” then it’s clear we are already preaching to the converted.

    Simple game play. No two-goals are the same. The ability to control the club’s on and off-field success.

    The early-to-mid-90’s battle for best football simulator was an intensely fierce one. Enough to make a Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane 50-50 tackle look like a pillow fight.

    Sensible Soccer, Actua Soccer and Kick Off all showed signs of promise but would soon disappear - like that academy wonderkid who never went on to establish himself in the first team. Almost 30 years on the Fifa series is still standing strong and it seems to be going from strength to strength.

    In the beginning it was the little things. Like licensing for example, being able use the real life club and player names, kits and badges gave it an additional real feel.

    There was also the soundtrack - songs that went hand in hand with the game. Even today when you hear Blur's Song 2 you think of Fifa: Road to World Cup 98. Or Sam Sparro's Black and Gold (FIFA 09)... Avicii’s The Night’s (FIFA 15)... we could go on.

    View more on youtube

    Today it’s not uncommon for someone to walk into the room and ask, "So who’s playing?" so convinced by the current graphics they’ve mistaken it for a real televised game.

    However, early on all 11 players looked the same and using just the D-pad limited movement of the ball and players. The joy-stick and 360-degree movement, one button skill moves and signature celebrations again moved Fifa ahead of the competition.

    As consoles evolved - so did the series. New features included taking a team of unknown players and building your own dream team. Creating your own player meant YOU could start upfront for Arsenal and outscore Thierry Henry.

    And if you were tired of always losing to your friends or big sibling, the introduction of online battles meant you could now lose to an 11-year-old from a bedroom thousands of miles away before angrily turning off the console.

    Reality Fix: As real as it gets. The experienced could only be heightened by dressing in full gear (shin-pads and all) and opening your bedroom window as your dad is cutting the grass. Downsides, the slowest defenders in the game have an annoying habit of keeping up and at times catching your Cristiano Ronaldo as he races through on goal.

    Fun factor: It’s only fun when you’re winning but with game modes that ensure you and 10 other mates can all be on the same team, there’s the chance to live out all those dreams of lifting a trophy surrounded by the same people you played in the local park with.

    Platforms: Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U & Switch, PlayStation 1, 2, 3 & 4, Xbox, Xbox 360 & Xbox One among others.


  14. 'Kids say 'cheers, Jeff!' - we only did that in one game!'

    How I commentate for Fifa

    Martin Tyler

    Commentator for Sky Sports and the Fifa series

    It’s really just an extension of what we do for real - there is no script, no visuals. Mostly it’s recreating the kind of words a football commentator would produce with the energy you do when you’re actually out doing it.

    It’s a test of stamina, over the course of one year’s game we probably do about 12 six-hour days. They give us situations - there’s a free-kick put in the top corner - and we do about four versions of it. The miracle is fitting what comes out of our lips to the right time in the game.

    We work hard on refreshing it. Some days I do 1,000 names in different intonations. I never do a day on Fifa within two days of doing a commentary because you need a bit of recovery time, but I’ve learned a lot about my voice, how strong it really is.

    Alan Smith is great to work with. He’s very intelligent, witty and we are thrown together - it’s a bit like improv, really. It’s a super game, the detail that goes into it is incredible. As commentators, Alan and I try to measure up that detail - we do lots of players we don’t commentate on week in, week out, checking pronunciations, getting the historical stuff right.

    One thing I get most of all is kids come up and say “cheers, Jeff!” - we only did that in one game! When Swiss international Breel Embolo came and played against England, he heard me talking on the touchline as I was watching them train and goes “you’re from Fifa!”. He said he played it in English and asked for a picture.

    It’s a real honour to do it because the reach is amazing, in terms of the world but also the age groups, to be in the lives of young football fans is amazing for someone at my age.

  15. Fifa Street

    EA Sports

    View more on youtube

    Ronaldo. Thierry Henry. Deco. Francesco Totti. The iconic Nike T90 ball. AHH.

    A prime example of the original being the best. The 2005 release of Fifa Street was the first of its kind and has to go down as one of the greatest football games ever.

    A legendary game needs an icon for the front cover. Step forward Ronaldinho.

    Forget 11-a-side. This was four on four and all about skill. Of course scoring goals is the aim of the game, but unlike almost every other football video game, team tactics go out of the window and humiliating your opposition with skill combos is key.

    The more skills you complete, the quicker your meter at the top of the screen loads. Once it’s full you enter ‘Gamebreaker’ mode, which drastically improves your chance of scoring a goal, mainly by increasing the chances of the goalkeeper making a blunder, but they all count, right?

    Swapping stadiums for streets of some of the world’s football capitals and with So Solid Crew’s MC Harvey providing commentary, there was nothing better than hearing one of your skills recognised with “easy my selecta” or his other one-liners.

    Reality fix: We've all played football on our streets back in the day, but there’s something more glamorous about it when playing with some of the world’s best players.

    When you first play you’ll get the chance to create your own customised player to use in friendlies and to practice in career mode, throughout which you can earn ‘skill bills’ to put towards improving your tricks, tackling, shot power and speed. Who doesn’t want an upgrade on all of those things?

    Fun factor: Addictive, exciting and one for the showboats. It was always a thrill to see what skills could be produced by hammering the buttons tactically and wiggling the analogue stick, trying to convince yourself there was some sort of rhythm going on.

    Looking back, the graphics were pretty basic but in a way it added to the experience. Much like the pitches covered in graffiti with holes in the barbed wire cages, it’s rough around the edges but that’s part of the game’s charm.

    Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube.


  16. Fight Night

    EA Sports

    Legendary fighter Sugar Ray Leonard once said: “You don't play boxing” … well, Fight Night Champions (the fifth release in the series) is as close as you’ll get.

    The graphics, the gameplay, the storylines; the game represents everything there is to love about the sport.

    Strobe lighting and flash photography as fighters make their ring entrance, suspense built up for the opening bell as boxers are introduced, audible gasps from the crowd each time you land with a hayemaker, instructions shouted by your trainer in the corner; Fight Night Champions is still popular with gamers today.

    But that might be because it’s been NINE years since the last release.

    Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn gets inundated on his social media with fans pleading for him to work with EA on a new release. He recently said there is little interest from the publishers, but he could work on creating a new boxing game independently.

    View more on youtube

    Reality fix: You can choose from a roster of over 50 real-life fighters, including Britons Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Lennox Lewis and David Haye.

    Not only do they all look the part, but each of them play to their strengths; Calzaghe’s punch-output or Haye’s explosive combinations, for example.

    The ‘Champion’ story mode embodies the trials and tribulations associated with boxing; in a true Hollywood-style plot, you take charge of young prospect Andre Bishop. But not only do you have to climb up the rankings to achieve world glory; there’s a prison sentence, avenging your brother’s defeat and dealing with a corrupt promoter.

    Fun factor: On some combat sport video games, throwing the same right hook over and over again is enough to labour yourself to a win. But as the Fight Night series progressed, it became far more technical.

    You need to get your timing right. You need to identify your opponent’s weaknesses and negate their strengths. You need to bob and weave and be patient, waiting for that opening to strike.

    It takes a while to master, but it’s all worth it for that knockout win.

    Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube.


  17. Football Manager

    The man who wrote the game, Kevin Toms, through his own label, Addictive Software

    Kevin Toms

    It started here. The very first computer football management simulation - the genre simply did not exist until this came out, and it was a revelation when it did.

    The original Football Manager shares only its name and its basic premise with the modern-day Sega behemoth, and is incredibly unsophisticated in comparison.

    But that simplicity is also its strength, giving it a lasting charm and accessibility that its more complex cousins cannot match, no matter how much depth and realism they offer.

    Whichever club you choose to manage, you start in the old Division Four with the same set of ‘real’ 80s players - K.Keegan and B.Robson for example - and try to take your team to the Division One title.

    It proved to be an incredibly popular challenge. In the days of amateur bedroom coders, the game made the man behind it a fortune and brought him lasting fame too.

    These days, professional players dream of being the cover star of the latest incarnation of the Fifa franchise, but back then the programmer Kevin Toms plastered his face all over the packaging and adverts.

    His bearded grin remains recognisable to a generation of wannabe managers, and he is still making football games for your phone to this day.

    View more on youtube

    Reality fix: Your players only possess two attributes - a random skill rating out of five that reset each season, and an energy level out of 20 that you could increase by resting them for a game. The only other visible variable is a team morale, also measured out of 20.

    You have to contend with injuries and deal in a rudimentary transfer market as you try to improve your squad - after each game you wait - and wait - for the game to work out the latest league table, then you are offered one player and asked if you want to buy him.

    It all seems incredibly limited by today’s standards, of course - but in the early 1980s this was all state of the art stuff. It spawned three official sequels, and a host of imitators.

    Fun factor: Instantly playable and hugely addictive. Even its slow running speed had its advantages - it just added to the tension when you were watching the badly-drawn but strangely-involving animated 3D match highlights, hoping they would flash up in the direction your team was attacking in. Many keyboards took a battering when they didn’t.

    Platforms: Every home computer system in the UK during the 1980s. The versions on the ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro - which used the same character set as Ceefax - were probably the best-known and most-played.


  18. Football Manager

    Sega, Sports Interactive

    The Collyer brothers have a lot to answer for.

    An idea conceived in Paul and Ov’s bedroom in Shropshire at the beginning of the 1990s has led to decades of relationship breakdowns, failed exams and wasted degrees - and that’s just me.

    Football Manager - as it has been known since 2004 - transcends gaming.

    Its database is so comprehensive it has been used by Premier League clubs as a scouting resource and fledgling managers have played the game to hone their skills. Andre Villas-Boas even admitted to using it when he was Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Chelsea.

    It has inspired books, comedy sketches, podcasts and hours upon hours of pub chat - every virtual manager just loves telling you about their save, don’t they? You took Rushden & Diamonds to the top flight? Won the Champions League with Ancona? Developed a regen better than Lionel Messi? Brilliant…

    It evokes so much nostalgia. Iconic versions - 97/98, 01-02, 2005 etc - produced iconic players who never made it in real life but became legends in their own right: Cherno Samba, Maxim Tsigalko, Mark Kerr, To Madeira (actually a scout who inserted themselves as a wonderkid).

    In fact, interviewing Tonton Zola Moukoko is one of the highlights of my career (life?!).

    View more on youtube

    Reality fix: Hang on, this isn’t real? Sometimes Football Manager saves feel more true than life itself, comedian Jason Manford even said he was once rude to Micah Richards because in his save the ex-Manchester City defender had turned up late to training a couple of times…

    Fun factor: There was something weirdly addictive and satisfying about watching the written text updates in the old days, waiting anxiously for a flashing GOAL! notification.

    Nowadays FM is so advanced you could pretty much be in the dugout, boardroom or training ground of your club - the more complex the product has become, the more commitment has been needed to be successful.

    Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, mobile/tablet, Xbox.


  19. The evolution of Football Manager

    Miles Jacobson

    Football Manager director

    The thing most people notice is the changes from commentary only, to a 2D match engine and now a 3D match engine view, but really the biggest changes are to the artificial intelligence.

    When we were first making games, the computational power was more than a little bit basic - even the most basic of mobile phones nowadays have more power than the computers that the first games were released for.

    That extra computational power has meant the AI every year has been massively improved - whether that’s players on the pitch making decisions every quarter of a second, or the way transfers and club shortlists work, even down to the internal fixture computer.

    As for what I enjoy most, it’s a bit like asking who my favourite family member is - I love it all equally. But as a virtual manager, my speciality is probably transfers - spotting those young players who will be able to fit into my formation and role selection to get the best out of the team in the long term. FM is a marathon, not a sprint.

    I always play as Watford when playing for fun and tend to get to a point where I’m winning everything, so most of them are fun. I’m lucky to have got to know a few of the Watford managers over the years, but that causes problems with the ones I like as I can only take them over once they’ve been sacked in the game!

    We’re lucky to have built up a network of over 2,000 footballers who help us with testing the game and give us feedback on what is realistic and what isn’t. We also have a series of talks internally called the ‘FootTalks’ where I get to interview people who work in game - managers, directors of football, coaches, physios etc - and a lot of the info we get there ends up helping to shape the game.

  20. Geoff Crammond’s Formula 1 Grand Prix


    View more on youtube

    In the early years of gaming, attempts to replicate motorsports were either rather simplistic or arcadey. That all changed when Geoff Crammond’s Formula 1 Grand Prix came on the scene.

    The game’s 3D polygonal graphics - basic to look back on now - were simply way ahead of their time as Formula 1’s most iconic circuits were brought to life with the cars, pits and famous corners all depicted with a level of realism unlike anything else seen before.

    It wasn’t just about the impressive visuals - with customisable car models and the F1 season in its entirety playable, allowing gamers to while away their weekends pouring over lap times in practice and tinkering their setups for race day.

    There have been several sequels since and while other racing games have come on the scene and taken F1GP’s crown as the master of F1 racing simulations, this undoubtedly was the one that paved the way for them all.

    Reality fix: This was as real as you were going to get in the world of computer game racing back in 1991, so realistic it was for the time that F1 drivers were rumoured to use the game to help them learn the circuits.

    Sixteen authentic tracks were superbly replicated while accurate physics and TV-style camera angles as good as put you into Nigel Mansell’s racing boots.

    Fun factor: The fun in this game came from its complexity. Put in the hours fine tuning setups and learning the track and you would likely be rewarded with success. It was a level of realism unrivalled at the time and that is what made it a joy to play.

    Platforms: Amiga, Atari, PC.