Forgotten Gems of Gaming: SENSIBLE SOCCER

To coincide with the imminent release of EA’s FIFA 12, Forgotten Gems takes a look at one of the gaming giants of yesteryear, that classic of the 90’s: Sensible Soccer (1992).

To coincide with the imminent release of EA€™s FIFA 12, Forgotten Gems takes a look at one of the gaming giants of yesteryear, that classic of the 90€™s: Sensible Soccer (1992). A game older than Jack Wilshere, whom graces the UK€™s FIFA 12 cover along side a screaming Wayne Rooney. Sensi, as its fans knew it, even predates the FIFA series, which only stepped onto the football gaming scene in 1994 with FIFA International Soccer. The FIFA is currently the undoubted king of the football game, with its closest challenger; Pro Evolution Soccer, falling short in recent years. The FIFA series aims for a realistic approach to football simulation, with high quality character models, advanced physics and fully licensed players, teams and stadiums. Sensible Soccer on the other hand aimed for a fast passed, arcade style football experience, which did not resemble the real life games that play out each weekend. The players in Sensi ran around the pitch at speed, slide tackling away and making turns that would break the legs of real players.

Instead of the detailed player faces, heights and bodies types we see in FIFA, Sensi went for a more imaginative format to distinguish different players. The character that was controlled by the player, either with the ball or closest to it, had their shirt number displayed, hovering above their head, allowing the player to know from memory which character they where playing with. A bit on imagination was involved, but that was the beauty of games before the graphical advancements of recent years. Also differing from FIFA was the viewing angle. In Sensible Soccer the perspective was a bird's-eye view onto the pitch below, with each opposing goal at top and bottom on the screen. This was a popular viewpoint during the early days of the football game, with other titles such as Kick Off (1989) and GOAL! (1993) utilising this approach. Yet these games employed a closer, more zoomed-in view that failed to display the full width of the pitch, a key variant from Sensible Soccer. The FIFA series began with a viewing angle set from one corner, giving the games an almost isometric perspective. It wasn€™t until €™98 (which saw David Beckham on the cover of the UK release) that the camera angle was switch to a side on view, more akin to the television point of view, the angle that is used in current instalments of the series. The more recent incarnations of the series, Sensible Soccer 2006 shows us an ideas of what the original game would have looked like today, with modern graphics. Instead of the realistic character models, the characters in the the €™06 version are cel-shaded, cartoon-like figures with very large heads. The actions is very fast pasted and the goals flow in a lot more than in FIFA. The fast paced action stands out compared to other modern football titles, as the games camera jerks about the pitch trying to keep up with the often chaotic action on the pitch. Perhaps the best thing about Sensible Soccer was the fact that it didn€™t try to recreate exactly how a real football match played out. Sensi took the template of football; two teams of eleven players trying to score against each other, and made an arcade style, fast, angle based game that resembled games like Pong or 2D shot em' ups at times, than a real football match. Sensi's pick-up and play controls, simple gameplay and fast paced action made it one of the ultimate classics of the football game.

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