The new face of football games

For the first time in what seems like years – probably because it is years – I find myself unbothered about the release of the latest raft of football simulation games.

So feeling malaise towards managerial simulations and apathy towards action games, I tried out an entirely new game and concept: Big Match Striker, recently released by Supermassive Games.

Big Match Striker may not enjoy the same reputation as some of its rivals, but for me and many others, it’s immediately preferable to the tried and tested formulas because it offers something different. For while other games test your ape-like mimickry of real-life tactics or your ability to exploit A.I. flaws, Big Match Striker actually demands knowledge about the beautiful game.

You may think trivia games aren’t always a great source of entertainment, but they’re not usually made to represent a real football game. Answer questions correctly before your opponent, build passes, score goals. Be consistently rubbish, concede, lose. Simples, as Andrey Arshavin might say.

The problem was that I was inexplicably nervous. Playing for the first time, and wary of my position as a football writer, I felt unbelievable pressure to know everything about the game’s history. So imagine my relief when not only does trivia come into play, but recent results: with questions on even the previous day’s games, being vaguely aware of what’s going on really helps. Thank God for that – I have a reputation to uphold...

Again, no pressure then when it comes to friends’ leagues. Like the office Fantasy Football league – far less friendly than it probably should be – you can set up a competition between friends’ teams on Big Match Striker. Then taunt them. Endlessly. Which is nice.

And if you’re wondering how to arrange playing against your friends in a live scenario, the kind of logistical nightmare behind internet link-up games inevitably involving horrendous neverending Facebook messages, you don’t have to. You actually play against an artificial intelligence created by your opponent’s previous answers, so if they’re good at, say, Football League news but not so much about Premier League trivia, it will know that and answer accordingly – and with appropriate speed.

So is Big Match Striker going to sweep the football gaming world? I certainly hope it makes some waves. Some gamers may prefer making their FIFA or Pro Evo sessions, but by gum, Big Match Striker is fun: new, different and fun. And God knows it has a better soundtrack...