For the first time in what seems like years Ã¢ÂÂ probably because it is years Ã¢ÂÂ 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, itÃ¢ÂÂs 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 arenÃ¢ÂÂt always a great source of entertainment, but theyÃ¢ÂÂre 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 gameÃ¢ÂÂs history. So imagine my relief when not only does trivia come into play, but recent results: with questions on even the previous dayÃ¢ÂÂs games, being vaguely aware of whatÃ¢ÂÂs going on really helps. Thank God for that Ã¢ÂÂ I have a reputation to uphold...
Again, no pressure then when it comes to friendsÃ¢ÂÂ leagues. Like the office Fantasy Football league Ã¢ÂÂ far less friendly than it probably should be Ã¢ÂÂ you can set up a competition between friendsÃ¢ÂÂ teams on Big Match Striker. Then taunt them. Endlessly. Which is nice.
And if youÃ¢ÂÂre 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 donÃ¢ÂÂt have to. You actually play against an artificial intelligence created by your opponentÃ¢ÂÂs previous answers, so if theyÃ¢ÂÂre good at, say, Football League news but not so much about Premier League trivia, it will know that and answer accordingly Ã¢ÂÂ 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...