Submitted by: Jeremy Davies
Fifa? Pah! Pro Evo? Phooey! The definitive football game emerged in the mid-nineties, itself the ultimate evolution of the finest footy series in gaming history. Sensible Soccer had revolutionised computer football, with its intuitive control and passing system. Perfectly-suited to the joystick, it made us home computer users once more the envy of the flashy joypad-wielding console brigade.
Only one anomaly threatened Sensible’s dominance. This was the dawn of the Premier League era, the time of the soccer superstar. Sensi’s approach was egalitarian, giving each player equal ability. As real-life football became increasingly individualistic, here was a celebration of the team game. Sensi was the Total Football of the pixel pitch, championing the Dutch football philosophy, which venerates optimisation of space, rather than the Brazilian model in which individual flair trumps teamwork. With the growing profile of the celebrity footballer, Sensi’s values risked getting stuck in the past.
All that was to change, with the launch of SWOS.
In another leap forward, the mass of identikit footballers exploded, unleashing thousands of individual players, each with a unique set of attributes. The purist’s passing system was married for the first time to mazy dribbling, creating the perfect fusion of football styles.
The gameplay was addictive, with unprecedented tactical control, the sheer bewildering size of the worldwide player database, and the classic overhead view, bringing sweeping passing moves and team play thrillingly with reach. All this came together in the glorious career mode, with its amalgamation of gameplay with the football management genre. The joy of finding a rough diamond in your youth team, the buzz of a crap loan player scoring the winning goal in a big game . . . these thrills surpassed even the excitement of that first international job offer, and the chance to take a squad to the World Cup.
There’s a variety of different pitches to play on.
The game has aged well, perhaps because the top-down view, that dominated the genre for a while, declined with the move to “TV-style” presentation. With no modern equivalent, SWOS’s look is classic, not dated. Beautiful yet simple, breath-taking in scope yet minute in its detail, SWOS sets a yardstick that no modern game can match. If you love football, you love Sensible World of Soccer.