The “official games” of major sporting events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup have traditionally been terrible. Short on polish or features, the games have felt like they were made on the basis that people were buying them more as a souvenir and without any regard for whether they provided any actual entertainment.

EA Sports FIFA World Cup 14

“Official” games have often had wonderfully rendered stadiums but offered very little interest inside of them.

I had heard however that the 2010 FIFA World Cup game was actually quite good. So I decided to make the investment this time and see how the game is. The short answer is that it is a good game, but you can get that from any other review. What I am going to look at here, is whether the game actually makes the whole ‘experience’ of the World Cup better.

In my opinion, there are two main things that a game like this needs to do. Prior to the tournament it needs to enable you to get ready and hyped up about the games ahead, and during the tournament it needs to allow you to play the games you are about to/just watched as realistically as possible.

This game achieves both of those very well.

Prior to the tournament

The obvious thing which the game needed to do out of the box was make it possible to play through the World Cup tournament. Unsurprisingly, it does this quite well. All the basic things are there, the stadiums, fixtures, the 32 qualified teams and their correct uniforms.

Beyond that, it also needs to make it possible to play through the tournament with a few “what if” situations, for example, you should be able to play through with teams that didn’t actually qualify, or using players for whom your personal attachment doesn’t match the opinions of the actual real-life manager (e.g. Carlos Tevez). The first part of this it does quite well, pretty much every single nation in world football is represented. Unfortunately it isn’t so good on the latter. The squads for nations, while larger than the final 23-man selections, don’t go far and have some strange omissions, so you can’t call up Tevez for Argentina.

Want to experience the World Cup the way it is in Zlatan's head, now you can!

Want to experience the World Cup the way it is in Zlatan’s head, now you can!

In addition to enabling you to play the finals tournament itself, the FIFA World Cup game put a lot of attention into telling the story of the qualifiers. This is a common inclusion, but always a bit interesting, since qualification was well over by the time the game came out.

The game presented qualification in not one, but two ways. Firstly, it allows you to play a complete qualification campaign with any team from any confederation. The best part of this was the presentation, which came complete with excellent radio commentary between the games, talking through the significance of each match and providing general interesting banter. The low point of the qualifying campaign is that there are apparently some nations, particularly in North America, where the scheduling is broken, so they can’t actually qualify for the World Cup. A fairly fatal flaw, made reasonable only by the fact that those nations are for the most part the smallest of minnows.

The other qualification-related mode is the “Story of Qualification”, a series of scenario-based games which cover over 50 of the most interesting and significant games of the qualification campaign. For example, it allows you to play both sides of the decisive playoff game between Sweden and Portugal. For anyone who has played FIFA games in the last few years, these scenarios should be familiar from the game of the week scenarios that you get – typically they boil down to needing to score a crazy number of goals in a very short amount of time.

The Story of Qualification mode allows you to play through some of the great games and performances of the qualifying campaign.

The Story of Qualification mode allows you to play through some of the great games and performances of the qualifying campaign.

The game genuinely has absolutely helped me build hype and excitement for the tournament. I have played through three world cup tournaments, full European and South American Qualifying, plus a large number of scenarios. Between these, I have been able to get a much deeper understanding of the squads and how they have made it to Brazil. In particular the Story of Qualifying scenario mode was excellent. I don’t think many people, even fairly serious fans, ever truly get an idea of what qualification is like in confederations beyond their own. But now I feel I have a fairly good idea.

During the Tournament

As I hinted earlier, in my opinion the key function of the game during the tournament is to allow you to “play along”. Again, this is something that the game does quite well.

Firstly, it was quite easy to set up a tournament in such a way that I can play the World Cup as every team. This allows my mates and I to play an “alternate reality” version of the tournament where we play every game between us and see how it goes. As it turns out, our version is a little less interesting, the first three games were draws and then Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0.

It is also very easy to play one-off games. You can pick your teams, pick the right stadium and even select the right round of the completion (group stage, quarter final etc). The teams are quickly and regularly updated for injuries and current form, so if you want to play out tonight’s big game, or get revenge for last night, you can do that well. You just might struggle sometimes, because Casillas will probably be as bad for you as he was for Spain.

With regular form updates you too can put five goals passed Casillas in the World Cup.

With regular form updates you too can put five goals passed Casillas in the World Cup.

Finally, they have also extended the scenario system through to the Finals, called, unsurprisingly, “Story of the Finals”. Within hours of each day’s games finishing, they put up scenarios which allow you to play out the morning’s action. Sometimes this is about repeating reality, such as coming back against Japan as the Ivory Coast, and other times it is about changing it, such as winning the game as Australia, or making Argentine put four goals past Bosnia. In general this is excellent. I applaud them for making them available so quickly, and unlike in previous games, making them available permanently – previously they would just have the previous night, so you could miss out if you didn’t play them immediately.

I do find however that the whole “score lots of goals in a short time” which most scenarios tends to boil down to is not only samey, but also quite annoying, and only representative of the attacking aspect of a game. I often find I have to play the scenarios at a much easier difficulty level than I normally do, simply to make it possible to achieve without replaying the scenario 100 times.

I wish that they would make the scenarios either much longer, or much shorter. Allowing you to play the entire opening game with the objective “Win as Brazil” with bonus points for doing so without conceding a goal would allow you to actually appreciate the ebb and flow of the game. Alternatively cutting the scope right down to “Replicate Neymar’s stutter-step penalty” would show-off little features like that in the game which you otherwise might not notice or use. In both cases, it would also make it easier to simply enjoy playing the scenarios at my normal level, rather than have to get bored hammering in goals against the dumbest version of the AI simply to get through them.


Despite a few minor foibles, the game genuinely does make the whole World Cup experience more enjoyable!

It’s been mentioned before on this blog that Tropico is my favourite game/series of games in the world. Shortly I will be reviewing the recently released Tropico 5, but before I do that, lets quickly recap how the series has developed thus far.

Taverns of Tropico

The taverns of Tropico, Top left – Tropico, top right – Tropico 2, bottom left – Tropico 3, bottom right Tropico 4

Tropico – 2001

It’s important to remember that the Tropico series dates back to a time when building/management sims were actually AAA games. Games like Sim City, The Sims, Railroad Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon were all serious franchises that dominated shelves and discussions.

Tropico was from the makers of Railroad Tycoon and came into that market offering a quirky island version of a sandbox management sim. You picked a historical dictator (or created one of your own complete with backstory, talents and flaws) and tried to survive ruling a Caribbean island, complete with lush plants and impeccable Cuban music for the allotted 50 years. Your final score was based on not only how big and wealthy your island was, but also how much you managed to stash away in your Swiss bank account.

It was a remarkably deep simulation. You were forced to adapt your approach to economic growth in each game based on the skills of your dictator and the available resources of the island. As your island took off, immigrants would arrive looking to take advantage of the jobs and general idyllic lifestyle offered by your tropical paradise. Every one of these migrants had needs, a family and political leanings And so began your political problems. You needed to find ways to keep enough of them happy to survive regular elections, or risk being voted, Survivor style, off the island and into an instant game-over failure.

It was also a very small game. Unlike other similar games which could go for weeks, a game of Tropico was a pleasant 3-4 hours. Your island and population were also very small, around 200-600 citizens. It felt like everyone and their family mattered. With such a small population you seldom had enough time, money or construction workers to build everything the game had to offer.

This gave the game an amazing truthiness, you really felt like you were running a small, petty little island. Rather than gaming everything to min-max your economy and work out the perfect build order for everything, you instead would spend the whole game dealing with a list of strangely realistic problems. These might include winning a string of elections through micromanaging faction politics or dealing with rebels who would hide out in the jungles before attacking your favourite cigar factory. Most feared of all was trying to wrestle control over the economy back from the World Bank, who insisted on taking control of citizen wages (and hence general happiness) if the island went too far in the red. None of these were preset challenges or scenarios, they were just what happened to occur due to whatever area of the island’s development needs you weren’t quite able to keep up on.

Your problems might also be much smaller. In keeping with the island feel, Tropico managed to capture the idea of lazy tropical island life. Rupert the dockworker was going to go to the pub, go home, go to church and get his shots at the clinic no matter what. If that meant he wasn’t around when the trade ship came in, well, he’d help out on the next one. This made you care, to a ridiculous degree, about Rupert’s daily life.

Unfortunately, that significance of individual citizens was also the source of the game’s biggest frustrations, as an entire regime could be brought down because Pedro the 48 year old teamster died of a heart attack while pushing his wheelbarrow containing two years of cigar production down to the docks.

The combination of a quick, deep game that just felt perfect made Tropico being what I described as a “booty call” game. I would just get these random cravings to play one or two games, and then put it away for another couple of months.


Tropico 2: 2003

Tropico 2

Tropico 2 – completely different look and setting to the rest of the series.

In hindsight, Tropico 2 is very much the odd one out in the series. Unlike all the others, which take place primarily between the Cold War and today, Tropico 2 was set during the golden age of piracy.

Essentially you played the role of a pirate king. You provided a safe port and various ‘services’ to pirates who would go out, plunder the seas and bring back their treasure to spend and store on the island. By making them happier, and providing merchants to kit them out with cutlasses and parrots, you increased the potency of the pirate fleet, who in turn would be more successful and bring back more loot.

To complicate things, you essentially had two different populations. The aforementioned pirates stayed on the island, drank, visited bawdy houses and generally desired a good amount of “anarchy”. The other population were captives, who actually did all the work serving the alcohol, building buildings and providing, well, personal services. They were borderline (perhaps not so borderline in some cases) slaves who needed to be kept in check with “order”.

To explain the quotation marks, “Order” and “Anarchy” were actually a kind of aura generated by buildings and decorations. Brothels and taverns created the “anarchy” atmosphere that the pirates craved. Alternatively, making the place look like the set of Game of Thrones with the gratuitous placement of gallows and skeletons provided the necessary “order” to keep the captives in line. It was frankly a strange system, which was downright problematic with respect to captives who had to work in the pirate areas. It is a good thing that this design feature didn’t make it into any of the other Tropico games, but it did at least have the aesthetically pleasing effect of making you develop areas of the island a bit like a theme park.

A final, tiny creative flourish which I particularly enjoyed was the ability to name many of the buildings on the island. This allowed you to really add character to your game as Pirates visited the SCUMM Bar or the Llama and Pickle.

Most important in the context of the Tropico series was that Tropico 2 was primarily built around a campaign. The campaign was a series of islands and scenarios that took you from your first little island through to a bustling pirate stronghold. This was to be an idea that would dominate subsequent games.

Tropico 3: 2009

It had been a long time between rum-based cocktails when Tropico 3 was released in 2009. PopTop the original developer ceased to exist in 2006 and it was generally assumed that we would never see another game. Somehow however the Tropico franchise found itself in the hands of a Bulgarian game developer called Haemimont Games.

Tropico 3

Tropico 3 – a visually stunning reboot/reskin of the original

Much as I loved the original two games, I was very nervous about how good the game could possibly be. Although I was somewhat encouraged by the fact that it was now coming out of a nation with relatively recent experience of dictatorship.

Fortunately I had no need to be worried. This was still Tropico, lush, green and infected with a terminal case of the mambo. Haemimont had been extremely faithful to the original, and most of the buildings, edicts and mechanics were identical to what they had been in 2001. As we wrote at the time

“It looks better, runs better and has ironed out a veritable fruit stall of little quirks and bugs”

Of course, after 8 years, presentation was a notable upgrade. The game was now fully in 3D and had an impressive day/night cycle. There was also a bunch of really nice touches. Your Presidente was now an entity in-game who could visit buildings to improve production, or stand on the balcony of the palace to deliver speeches. And OMG the radio. I loved the addition of the radio. Tropico had always had amazing music, but now it was delivered interspersed with quirky radio DJ commentary on how life was going on the island. Simply awesome.

El Presidente

El Presidente is now a customisable avatar who appears in the game world. Here he is portrayed by a greaser in a top hat.

Then there was the addition of vehicles, which completely transformed the game cosmetically and structurally. By dramatically reducing travel times it solved the “Pedro’s heart attack” issue mentioned earlier. Vehicles also made it possible to develop an entire island, rather than being trapped in the tiny corner that Rupert could reasonably walk to. Incidentally, and a little ironically, it also finally enabled your island to look like the opening sequence to the original Tropico.

There were negatives to the change however. With larger islands and populations, now easily over 1000 people, faction politics became significantly less personal. The game transformed from being about appeasing 200 or so people on an island into a game about supply chains and traffic management. Essentially it went from being a ginormous game of The Sims into being a tiny version of Railroad Tycoon.

The balance was also completely different. Where previously a larger island made life really tough politically, in Tropico 3 your island could just keep growing in a state of perpetual happiness once you nailed down the economy and traffic flow. Now you pretty much could, and would, build every possible building and solve every possible problem in each game. Tropico had turned from a pretty but flawed banana republic into an utopia.

This probably would have made for quite a dull sandbox game, which may be why they decided to take the scenario idea from Tropico 2 and run with it. The game now became very much about building an island according to the requests and parameters provided by the game, more so than the resource availability or needs of the island.

Despite these changes, it felt like the developer had Tropico 3 was a refined but faithful homage to the original game.

Tropico 4: 2011

Tropico 4 felt like it was when the developer really started to commit to the idea that Tropico could be a significant commercial franchise.

Despite the fact that the two games looked very similar, Tropico 4 was a lot more sophisticated in almost all areas. The roads and traffic elements were balanced and no longer needed the obsessive control that they did in the previous version. The campaign was longer, more detailed and structured around a cast of jokey voice acted characters like Reverend Esteban the drunken priest and Brunhilde Van Hoof, a spoof of Margaret Thatcher.

The game also had a large amount of downloadable content (DLC). The previous games, going all the way back to the original each had expansions, but this time there were also ten small $5-15 packages that typically provided a building, a new scenario and some cosmetic changes.

In terms of actual gameplay, not much was different. The main change was the introduction of progress over time. Certain buildings would only become available later in the game. This continued the trend of increasing the potential island population size and reducing the importance of the island’s resources. By the end of the game you replaced your traditional resource gathering and dwellings with aesthetically ridiculous biofarms and ziggurats which enable you to house and feed a population the size of Shanghai on Nauru.

Tropico 4 ziggurat

The ziggurat – a visually ridiculous addition to your island utopia.

Another change, not huge in terms of gameplay, but significant in terms of the series was adding a sense of character development to your Presidente. While previous games had you pick a series of talents and flaws – eg an administrative genius with flatulence and a gambling problem, you now picked from traits which would “level up” and provide more powerful effects as you played more games. Now even Presidente could be perfect.


Tropico has evolved and developed much like one of the islands it lets you run. At the beginning it was a tough, tight little political simulation in which, like Civilization 5, you had to balance the strengths of your leader with the resources available to you. Islands were small and your objectives were focussed purely on satisfying the needs and desires of each citizen if you hoped to finish the game and not get voted off the island.

Over time the gameplay has experienced somewhat of an urban sprawl. By Tropico 4 it has become a game about managing traffic and supply chains to build incredibly large and densely populated cities. Winning/finishing the game is now achieved by completing a series of pre-ordained quests. It now feels like an anachronism that it is possible to lose the game instantly by losing an election, not that it is ever likely to happen since it is now also possible to build a tropical utopia ruled by the most talented person on the planet.

That could be characterised as an evolution into a more focussed, tightly designed game with a defined and desirable objective. All of which are good things and make Tropico 3 and 4 games I love to go back to on a regular basis. And to be honest the original Tropico, like many retro games, is now practically unplayable due to its old bugs and limitations.

But I do miss the days of seeing if an entrepreneurial former-nightclub singer with a severe case of kleptomania could survive ruling an island of 150 religious nutters.

The fans have much to be happy about at the World Cup, but do they know enough actual cheers? I say no!

The fans have much to be happy about at the World Cup, but do they know enough actual cheers? I say no!

It’s a good news/bad news situation.

The bad news about the EA Sports FIFA World Cup game is that it is only for the previous gen consoles.

The good news is that means you can include custom chants! (it isn’t possible to add custom chants to the PS4/XBone versions).

Here are some custom sounds I have cut, mixed and mastered for use in your very own FIFA World Cup. For instructions on how to insert them into your game, see my earlier post – the FIFA 14 Custom Sounds Guide.

Unfortunately the custom chants system in the FIFA 14 World Cup game isn’t without problems. Hopefully you will have fewer problems than me, but this is what I have observed.

  1. The chants play A LOT, I strongly recommend including one or more tracks of complete silence within your chant playlists in order to space things out a bit. I have included a link to 10s of silence below (just before the playlists).
  2. The game doesn’t seem to be able handle having more than a couple of playlists to consider. Any more than that and I’ve experienced problems with it retaining the attachment of playlist to event, laggy play and even complete system crashes. This isn’t having multiple playlists loading into a single game or team, simply having 3-4 teams with their own playlist seems to create issues. I suggest picking one or two teams that you want to have extra colour, and sticking with that.
  3. The game really doesn’t like attaching sounds to the first team, alphabetically, in each confederation. So teams like Argentina and Algeria are very problematic.

Once again, I give credit to the unknown people who sang and recorded these sounds. I have come across them from a variety of sources including fanchants.co.uk (who I strongly support you to visit for more excellent chants) and the legendary Pro Evolution Soccer modder Thommsen.

To download – right click on the name of the track you want, and choose “Save link as” you should be prompted to download a .wav file.

10s spacer (for use for spacing out chants, insert one or more times into each playlist)








I’ve just finished three delight-filled weeks of gaming with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.

This was entirely expected. AC4 was pretty much guaranteed to be a good time.


Hijinks on the high seas

For starters, as the title of this blog may indicate, I love pirate games in general. Over the years, I’ve managed to enjoy some pretty mediocre pirate games – including almost all the Pirates of the Caribbean movie tie-ins, simply because they reminded me of Monkey Island.

So suffice to say, AC4 was set up to succeed. It was my first game on the PS4 so it was almost certain to be a stunning game, showing off rich tropical environments on the most powerful computing hardware I’ve yet connected to my TV. Furthermore, I already knew that I enjoyed their sailing/naval combat mechanics from ACIII.

I’m sure I was not alone on many if not all these points.

For many games and game designers that would have been enough, but unlike many of its pirate protagonists Assassin’s Creed 4 does more than profiteer from easy wins.

The gameplay is excellent. Tight, focussed and with enough high-seas swashbuckling to keep me interested for 50 hours. I can’t give it any higher commendation than to say that this was the absolute first game where I’ve gotten 100% across all the challenges and collectables. Quests, location of collectables, reasonableness of the additional challenges and the level design were all extremely well designed and executed.

I really have to talk about the shanty system too. Simultaneously one of the best collectables and music implementations I’ve ever seen in a game. The shanties are essentially little pages strewn around the world that you have to chase through the wind, it’s basically a test of your parkour skills as you sprint across rooftops and tree-branches to catch them. But, best of all, once you catch one you have a little double-entendre laden sea shanty to read. Even better, your sailors sing from the list of the shanties you’ve collected while you sail around! I’ve never come across a collectable that contributed to an audio cosmetic before.

Beyond the level design, they also deserve massive commendation for the world they have created. The game steers clear of pirate cliché’s, hardly an Arrr! is uttered as the game instead sticks to a quite historical portrayal of the period – including a cast of characters straight out of the seminal 1724 tome A General History of the Pyrates.

While many characters seem motivated, pretty much unavoidably, by gold, booze and women, the game does also make some effort to fall on the right side of social issues. It deals with the slave-trade history of the Caribbean, including a substantial part of the main story and making the liberation of slaves the central focus of both the single-player DLC extensions that currently exist to the game.

AC4 even does a decent job at having a pair of strong female characters, and just, barely, passes the Bechdel test. And importantly, despite being a sailor, the main character doesn’t make cringingly lewd passes at every lady he sees. It’s not enough to call it a feminist game by any stretch, but it’s not a laddish game like GTA either.

It does somewhat undo its good work in the moral/social conscience stakes by encouraging you to harpoon whales.

Moving on to the storyline. As pirate yarns go, it starts out a little dull, but really picks up as it goes along. It’s the classic tale of man finds ship, man wants treasure, man meets shark, man finds treasure, treasure turns out to be different from what man expected, man needs to save the world from what he unearthed by finding the treasure. It’s a good enough tale, and putting the Assassin’s Creed twist on top of a pirate yarn prevents it from being too derivative.

One of the problems is that I found the main character Edward Kenway to be a bit of a cardboard cut-out. He has very simplistic motivations that don’t really develop much through the game. You never really feel like you ‘know’ him, although to an extent that does make it a little easier to project yourself into the role. Fortunately, the other major characters are much better and you develop quite an attachment to some of them. Setting up Blackbeard, who by most accounts is one of history’s great psychopaths as a sympathetic character was an interesting, brave and ultimately quite rewarding decision.


Just some of the motley cast of characters in AC4

But something irked me. Unlike Arkham Asylum, where I really felt like I was Batman, or the Saboteur where I felt I was back in wartime Paris, I never felt like I was a pirate of the Caribbean. This was surprising because on paper a game which allows ample opportunities to unbuckle your swash in a historical world should have been an easy sell. While I can’t quite put my finger on why, I attribute this primarily to two things, the overall feel of the world, and the way the central character progresses.

As I’ve indicated earlier, the game world is probably the most beautiful, historically accurate representation of the golden age of piracy ever developed for a game. Yet somehow, it still doesn’t quite feel alive? This is a game that has largely missed the current trend for ambient/environmental storytelling. While the larger locations like Havana, Kingston and Nassau do have distinct and recognisable architectural styles which contribute to the overall feel of the Caribbean, the little villages around the world felt very same-y, existing only as a source of collectibles and side missions. This was not a Bethesda or MMO-style game where every town has a storyline and progression of its own. With the exception of Nassau which does transform along with the main storyline, none of the other locations were really anything more than a place to visit.

The shipping suffered a similar malaise of pointless presence. Aesthetically it was amazing, you sail along and see ships with their national colours, occasionally even engaged in combat with each other. But as you watch them more closely the illusion is quickly broken. Ships seem to just be sailing aimlessly around, you never really get the sense that the various treasure fleets were going anywhere, or that you’d be able to get more rum by striking shipping near a port with a rum distillery rather than somewhere else. Instead there is a simple mechanic that the various regions of the ocean have ships of differing type, nationality and level, and that’s basically the extent of the variability. Even Sid Meier’s Pirates back in the black and white days had a treasure fleet which had to be tracked as it travelled across the Caribbean.

And then there’s the progression. Both your character and your ship develop in a very quick, linear fashion. You acquire resources, mainly gold, from quests and piracy and then purchase upgrades like better swords and pistols for yourself and cannons and hull siding for your ship. Within about 10 hours of playing the game both I and my ship were far superior to anything around me, meaning that there was little tension. So much so that I wound up accidentally taking one of the toughest forts in the game really early on. It shot at me, I shot back, 10 minutes later it was all over.

Character and ship customisation is a similar story. There’s a reasonable amount of options for outfits, sails and ship figureheads, which normally would allow me to make a character feel like my own, but I just never got there. This may have been partly because it was very much a case of choosing from pre-set options, rather than being able to do anything really creative like design a flag, or choose a combination of hat and coat. Not to mention the fact that it is simply impossible to find an outfit that looks equally at home behind the wheel of a ship and on top of a church steeple.

Assassin's Creed 4 outfit inconsistency

I can only assume the hat is glued onto his head.

So overall, it’s a great game. If I was scoring it on the traditional graphics, story, gameplay type categories then it would seriously be hard to give it anything short of perfect scores across the board. But unfortunately it’s like playing a game on the set of a movie. Everything looks perfect, almost too perfect, but inhabit the world for any length of time – something that you really want to do with this game – and you quickly start to see that there isn’t quite as much behind the façade as you initially thought.

I’ve always been a big fan of games, particularly sports games, that allow for customization of teams, sounds etc. The game designers can only do so much in terms of getting the gameday experience “just right”, but fans can really nail it.

To their credit, EA has been quite good over the years at allowing customization. FIFA in particular has a number of good options, including a quite deep system for customizing chants and music to be played during the game. Unfortunately, there are some quirks and foibles to this system, which is why I have written this guide.

This guide is based on FIFA 14 for PS3, but it should work the same on Xbox 360 and possibly some other platforms. Unfortunately it is NOT possible to add custom sounds to FIFA 14 on the next gen platforms of PS4 and Xbox One.

Getting started

First things first, I actually had a lot of troubles finding the “Custom Music and Chants” option in FIFA 14. It is well hidden.


From the main menu, go to the Customise tab. Then go to the bottom right hand corner of the screen, flick the right stick to the right, and the “Custom Music and Chants” option will appear.

What does the custom chants system allow me to do?

There are a lot of things you can do with the customize chants system.

  1. You can change the menu music, using your own playlist to be played during menu screens and the arena, rather than the default EA Trax.
  2. You have extensive options for adding custom sounds to events in games played with the “Favourite Team” you selected in your profile
  3. You can add custom sounds to be played when particular players score a goal. These will be played regardless of who the player is playing for, so is a good option if you want to have a chant for a player you have signed in career mode. To my knowledge this is also the only way to have custom sounds in Ultimate Team mode.
  4. You can customize the sounds for all the other teams available in FIFA, but with a limited range of options compared to what you can do for your favourite team.
  5. You can add sounds for a variety of events involving your “Pro” player


Important things to know when adding custom chants

  1. You need to work within the the audio file limitations of your console and speakers. I found that on PS3 the best file-types to use were wav and mp3 at maximum settings of 48k sample size and 16 bit depth.
  2. You can either assign single tracks or a playlist to an “event” within the system. Playlists need to be designed within the media management part of the console itself (i.e. the XMB on the PS3). Be aware that if you get into customizing sounds a lot, you will be creating a lot of playlists.
  3. FIFA has its own peculiar ways of determining the volume for sounds in-game. Goal celebrations seem to be quite loud while entry and victory/defeat music seems a little too quiet. Chants play at a lot of different volumes depending on what else is going on at the time. If you are finding that all of your chants are too loud/soft, you can change this by adjusting volumes within the overall game settings.

Notes on particular event types

Team chants

For non-favourite teams you just have the choice to have “Crowd Chants” These play A LOT. I observed that the game would play sounds 25 or more times during a game with standard 6-minute halves. It usually only waits 5-10 seconds from the end of a chant before it begins to play the next one.


For your favourite team the “team chants” are divided into three categories of Anthem Chants, Positive and Motivational. Anthems will play all the time, positive if you are drawn or winning and motivational should play if you are losing (although I suspect this may not be working properly). As an interesting side-note, the positive/motivational tracks seem to play more often than anthems when your team is away from home.

I recommend only attaching your custom chants playlist to the “Favourite t because they actually play quite often, and I found that adding a playlist for the other options as well caused the game to crash.

You can also add “Team Rivals” chants for your favourite team. As the name suggests, these chants will play whenever your team is playing against a specific opponent. I typically found that these chants will play about 5-6  times per game. You can assign tracks or playlists to quite a large number of rivals. You can create great derby soundtracks by including the anti-team chants from both sides of the rivalry.

Goal Songs

These play immediately after a goal is scored, so you will hear them over the celebration dance and carrying through over the replay. An important thing to note is that team goal songs have priority over favourite player goal songs. So you will never hear the specific songs for a player when he is playing for a team you have assigned a team song to.

An annoying detail that I hope they fix is that team goal songs will play even when the team is playing away from home, which is quite unrealistic.

Entry and Victory/Defeat Songs

The entry songs start when you load into the game, and likewise the Victory/Defeat songs start at the final whistle. A couple of things to note are that FIFA seems to play these quite quietly. Also, with Victory/Defeat songs, you won’t hear them much until the commentators stop talking, which doesn’t happen until about 22 seconds into the track, so you might want to line up the “good bit” of the song to come in at that point.

My top tips

  • Have at least 10 different chants in any playlist you want to assign to “Team Chants”. If you feel that you are hearing your tracks too often, add in some tracks that are just 10-20 seconds of silence in order to space things out a bit.
  • If you want to hear a chant more often than others then put it in the playlist twice.
  • If you are able to edit the chants you put in the game, try to keep them to 5-20 seconds with a little fade-in and out. This will help the chants to blend into the game better.
  • For favourite team, use your playlist for “Favourite Team Anthem Chants” and leave both positive and motivational as “default”
  • For goal celebration songs, try to trim them down to the 10-15 seconds that you really want to hear while your players dance around celebrating their goal.
  • For Team Entry, Victory and Defeat songs, make sure your song is as loud and clear as possible. You may also want to trim to make sure you get the good bit, as people usually skip a lot of these scenes.


Here is about 2.5 minutes of gameplay with some custom sounds I put together for AC Milan. You will notice that even in this short amount of time you hear custom chants come in 6 times.

And yes, I am playing against a Serie B team and on Semi-Pro, so it isn’t very difficult.


Below are the sounds I cut, mixed and mastered to go into FIFA 14. Good luck inserting them into your own game. I am also preparing sounds for international teams taking part in this year’s world cup. They can be found in their own post Custom sounds for EA Sports FIFA World Cup

Credit where it is due to the people that originally recorded these sounds. I have acquired them from many sources over the year, including the legendary PES modder Thommsen.


Within the next few weeks, the Xbox One and PS4 will both hit the marketplace. This essentially marks the beginning of a new generation of games and consoles. With that in mind, we thought it would be good to quickly revisit the impact of what we like to call the “three” generation of the Xbox 360, PS3 and their old rival, the PC.

Here are the five storylines from that generation.

New storytelling techniques

The techniques for storytelling in games has evolved over the 8 years of the three generation. Much of this can be attributed simply to the evolution of the medium. Gaming has become a big business and more mainstream, this has led to bigger budgets and the ability to draw on more and more talented people, enabling the discovery and development of new ways of telling stories interactively. The increased graphical and computational power that the generation brought with it certainly can’t be ignored either.

Perhaps the strongest new developments over the three generation has been the move of games to be more cinematic in scale and scope, as well as the increased use of the environment to tell stories. While neither are completely new ideas in themselves, they have taken a particular form in this generation, specifically;

–          Shorter 10-30 hour games

–          Snappy dialogue, frequently delivered during “down time” while travelling between encounters

–          Separation of a main plot told through dialogue, and a ‘world story’ told through found items, radio chatter, looted items, and the art design of the world

–          Increased use of significant NPCs to create an emotional attachment with the player, these NPCs are frequently companions and things that happen to them are used to drive the drama of the final segment of the game

In my opinion, Grand Theft Auto IV was the first big “blockbuster” title of the three generation, and established both of these elements. Despite its length, GTA:IV told a very film-like story, a three act drama of a refugee finding his way in America, full of conflict and sub-plots. It also oozed story out of every part of the environment, from the posters on walls, to the chatter on the radio and all the little bits you could interact with such as watching TV.

If it was GTA: IV that heralded this type of storytelling for the generation, it was the Bioshock series that took the idea of environmental storytelling and really developed it. These ideas and techniques have now become incorporated into almost all big-budget, story-based games, and at the end of the generation, games like The Last of Us are a sign of just how far we’ve come.


Bioshock showed the world how a story could be told using the environment.

Bioshock showed the world how a story could be told through environment details like the layout and appearance of objects.

The death and resurrection of the PC

The PC has faced a remarkable cycle during the three generation. Much of this was as a result of the generational shift in TV screen technology. For much of the generation all three platforms competed on the equal playing field of the ubiquitous 1080-line resolution.

In the early years of the generation, the Consoles appeared to have a clear ascendancy. In addition to operating at an equivalent resolution to most PCs they had a cheaper entry point, hardware consistency, effective online stores and DRM. They also had the benefit of big-spending owners who ensured that developers prioritised the development of games as console-first, often to the detriment of PC versions.

Naturally this led to a lot of stories about the “death of PC gaming”, which for a while seemed to be sustained exclusively by World of Warcraft and a few die-hard FPS enthusiasts who refused to give up point-and-click shooting.

Things have changed towards the end of the generation however. Predictably, over the eight year cycle, the power available to PCs has increased well beyond what the consoles can manage. Less predictably, digital distribution on PC, particularly through Steam store has grown to rival anything on the consoles and the PC has actually found itself at the forefront of business innovations with the emergence of web-based and free-to-play gaming.

Content and services beat hardware?

Sony clearly went into the three generation with the most powerful console. It wasn’t really until the Kinect came out in 2010 that you could really say that there was anything that the Xbox could do better than the PS3 (is this perhaps why it is such a big part of the Xbox One?).

Tech gear is typically sold on power and features. And yet, despite the power disparity, the two consoles maintained a relative stalemate in terms of market share.

It’s hard to ignore the aggressiveness of Microsoft releasing a year before the PS3, and spending big on exclusive content as being part of the reason for their success. Early in the generation, Xbox established a strong exclusives line-up involving Halo, Gears of War, Viva Pinata and the GTA:IV DLCexpansions.

Cross-platform publishing

Once parity was established between the two platforms, it became entrenched. The large third-party publishers such as Ubisoft, EA and Activision all maintained a largely agnostic approach to the two consoles and PC. Games were built to look and play as identically as possible on all three. Arguably this was to the detriment of the PC and PS3 who had their versions restricted to what was possible on an Xbox 360.

It is also fair to say that the PS3 proved to be simply too difficult to write for. Only a very small number of first party games really showed that the PS3 was capable of doing more than the 360, and almost all of those seemed to suffer blowouts in terms of release schedules. Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is that the hardware for the PS4 is no-where near as idiosyncratic as its predecessor.

Changing of the guard of dominant franchises?

The eight years of the three generation also saw a shift in the dominant franchises in gaming.

Arguably the biggest franchises coming into the generation were GTA and Halo. Both had huge releases within the first year or so, but then had a large hiatus in which they dropped out of the public consciousness. In the case of GTA it has only just re-emerged 5 years later, having had 3 major releases in the 5 years before GTA IV.

In the middle of the cycle, the rhythm game phenomena of Guitar Hero and Rock Band dominated Christmas shopping and DLC purchases, but both died out during the course of the generation.

Now at the end of the cycle, Call of Duty is the biggest game in town. It has managed an annual release through the entire generation, and has really kicked on since the landmark Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007. If you only see one TV ad for a game this year, it will almost certainly be for Call of Duty.

Speaking of annual releases. There has also been a bit of movement in the sports games genre. Early in the generation EA Sports managed a complete victory in NFL by wrapping up an exclusive license for the game and shutting down all competition. They won it the right way in football however. Fifa adapted better to the generation than PES, and since 2009 has been the clearly dominant game. It hasn’t all been good for EA Sports however, as the NBA 2K series has established itself as the premier basketball franchise, perhaps because 2K sports doesn’t have to invest in NFL rights and development any more.


That’s our five top storylines from the generation. What do you think are the biggest developments and changed in the gaming landscape that have occurred over the past 8 years?

This is a review based on a single, complete play-through of the Prologue and Grand Campaign as Rome, the Brutii faction to be precise. There will be some spoilers in this review; Rome will conquer the world and have a civil war, deal with it.

After six weeks and 120 hours of real-life play time my legions march across Asia. On my desk sits a latin dictionary and a book full of notes on how each of my 15 unstoppable legions and over 130 regions are to be managed. The game map is red from the shores of Ireland, to the dunes of Tunisia, the snowy forests of Lithuania to the Arabian gulf. Just a few more easy victories against the Persians and Armenians and I will be done. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. But this far in and a full five weeks beyond the last time this game had actually posed much of a challenge, I did wish that it was possible to build it a little quicker.

Total War games have always been a bit of a slog, but Rome II is even more than most, to the point that it did rather damage the experience. Unlike some previous titles, there’s only a Grand Campaign, no shorter ones, and although there are a few different victory options (military, economic and cultural), they all share “playing for a very long time” as an essential component. I took the military route which required building my aforementioned empire to a scale much larger than real-life Rome, it was just too much.

To make it worse, the things that slowed the game down were dealing with tedious bits of game design, rather than engaging in interesting gameplay. Many hours were spent fighting meaningless battles against insignificant AI opponents or the clunky interface. The biggest challenge, a civil war, happened about a week into proceedings, after which the game was pretty much over. From then on out, a number of features of the game fell away and I was just completing objectives and waiting for the end-game cinematic.

It is a problem I find with most strategy games that set the objective as “conquer the world” as it is logically very hard to turn that into a tension-filled exercise, and of course it isn’t unrealistic for Rome to dominate every army it faces. But surely something needs to be done to make the latter 2/3rds of a game interesting?

Si vis pacem, para bellum

The start of the game is excellent. You emerge in the world with a couple of territories, an army and a dream. Scanning the world you can see over 180 regions, each with their Latin names. The game is broken into chapters and sets neat little objectives for each one, encouraging you to grow the empire in a similar pattern to history.

Along the way you can come across over 100 factions. Some of these exist as the game opens, some emerge over time due to rebellions or being liberated from former owners. While many of these factions are similar to each other, for example all Gallic tribes sharing similar looks and units, variety is never a problem. One of the best features of the game is how different it feels as you travel to different parts of the world. Fighting the Germanic tribes with their bowmen in the snow feels very distinct from the Greek cities and their heavy infantry, or the cavalry and sand dunes of north Africa and Arabia. This is one area where the scale of the game helps, you can be alternating between Legions in each region, and really getting a feel of the size of the empire.

Quinctilius Varus, give me back my Legions!

Speaking of legions, a lot of work has been done to how armies work in this game. In previous games an army was just one or more units moving together. Now each army is a distinct entity. When you create a legion, you give it a name, number and a commander. Every time the legion fights a battle, it acquires history. The results are recorded in-game, and the legion itself earns experience which is spent on a skill-tree which allows you to add abilities and specialisations, such as the ability to build better siege equipment, or better performance from infantry.

The legion system also acts as a way to limit the logistics of the empire. You are only able to have a certain number of legions at a time, starting with only three and ending at fifteen. One of the benefits of this is that you tend to have Legions survive with you the entire game. This led to great stories all recorded within the game, such as my Legion Africana. This legion was founded in Carthage, marched all the way across Europe to fight in Silesia (Poland), where they replaced their Numidian forces with local cavalry, and later went west again and led the invasion of Britain. It was a fun and engrossing system which led me to play with my ratty old Latin Dictionary always at the ready for the naming, or renaming of a legion.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Most of the appeal of Total War of course, is not naming the Legions on the campaign map, but taking them to battle. The first Rome was a true triumph in this regard, its battle engine was seen as so realistic that it was used by the History Channel to generate the graphics for the series Decisive Battles.

Once again, the engine is visually stunning. Thousands of little troops, running around, forming tortoises and throwing pilums. The game also contains one of the first attempts (continued from Shogun II) to accurately recreate ancient naval warfare in which ships would clash together and create a platform for an essentially infantry-based battle. It also makes an ambitious, if slightly flawed effort to include amphibious battles where armies can converge by land and sea, and fight in both arenas on the same map.

There even appears to be an effort to have the AI fight an intelligent battle. Over the course of the game I saw various attempts at using terrain and flanking my forces. Of course, since I was playing as Rome, things tended to be pretty much over as soon as the infantry engaged, but it was nice to see them trying. The down side was however, that all melees, whether fought by ill-disciplined tribesmen or the most elite Greek phalanx, would immediately devolve into massed blobs of men thwacking each other. I would expect that this may improve in patches over time, units simply need a lot more cohesion and discipline in how they engage,

Where the game falls down more spectacularly, and dare I say permanently, are where it appears to have taken a few too many cues from Hollywood. While I understand that there is a reference to “heated” javelins in Caesars memoirs of the conquest of Gaul, I can’t help but feel that the dominance of flaming ordnance and siege defences in the game owes rather more to the film “Troy” than anything genuinely historical.

There are also some quirks in the way the AI acts on the campaign map level. For example, the AI’s favourite tactic appears to be to essentially “blitz” you. They leave their own cities unguarded and sprint straight past your legions to attack one of your unguarded cities (which with up to 15 legions and 140 cities, there will be many). While earning a cheap win, this was inevitably a poor strategic move, leaving their army stuck in one of my towns, where they were easy pickings for a full legion, and enabling me to quickly capture their undefeated empire.

New additions to strategic options, such as ambush and defensive battles almost never occurred, partly due to this behaviour from the AI, and partly because there aren’t enough genuine bottle-necks to create a good old Thermopylae situation.

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble

If only the management of cities were as fun as the armies. Based on the feature list alone, they’ve done a great deal of work in this area, but it just doesn’t quite work. The 180-odd regions are all broken into provinces of 2-4 regions. Each province consists of one major city, such as Rome, Carthage or Athens, and the remainder small villages. The major cities have more space for building and can build different types of things, such as cultural buildings or plumbing, whereas the smaller villages are primarily limited to farms, barracks and ports.

Most buildings produces wealth, resources or units for the region. Some additionally have bonuses, such as +10% to wealth for all building types across the entire province, which creates an incentive to own the whole province. Most buildings also carry a cost in either food, public order or both. Food is an aggregated total across the empire, whereas public order is a factor only in the immediate province. Run out of food and growth stalls and your armies can’t replace their losses, run up too high in public order and a revolt occurs, creating enemy armies within your borders that need to be defeated before they start taking cities from you. The management side of the empire essentially consists of managing those costs across the empire.

On face value, it’s a good system with some nice touches. The buildings you construct can all be seen on the campaign map. Towns and cities visibly expand as the game progresses, cutting down nearby forests to fuel their growth. There are problems however. The game never really makes it clear how to grow regions. You do work out, often because of mistakes that you need to grow things very slowly. Most “buildings”, such as farmland or barracks have tiers of construction from one to four. Tiers one and two are generally free in terms of public order or food, but immediately hit rather steep costs at tier three. The result is that you tend to keep everything at tier two, and then occasionally have to demolish everything in order to change the focus of a region from troop raising when it is at the frontier of the empire, to an agricultural region as you expand beyond it.

Towards the end of the game turns were taking well over an hour, mainly because I was having to individually go through each region every turn to make sure that it was balanced in terms of food or public order, and building what it was meant to be building. Particular low points included when I became able to build higher tiers of buildings which greatly changed their balance in terms of order/food, and required a complete rethink of how all my regions were constructed. Surely I could have had a little Posca to look after all of this for me.

Et tu Brutus?

The intrigues and family affairs of Rome were enough to spawn two entire, engrossing series on HBO. They’ve made an effort to try and include it within the game, but like so many things, it doesn’t quite work.

The system is most active early on. Playing as one of three families of Rome you make a number of decisions which affect the political balance. Candidates for general and admiral are almost all affiliated with one of the families (there are a few unaligned candidates). Put a man in a position to lead a legion to a few victories and he will level up through a character skill tree and acquire traits, household members and all-around gravitas that will likely lead him to becoming popular with the troops and back in Rome. This, combined with occasional family event decisions, such as how to handle an infanticidal nephew make for a moderately interesting side-game as you seek to keep some form of balance in the Senate while you build the empire. Unfortunately, one week in, the empire grew so large that we had a civil war, which I won, established a capital letter Roman Empire, and all this layer of intrigue ended for the duration of the game. From then on, characters still had an alignment and acquired gravitas, but it meant a grand total of nothing.

I get the feeling that there is meant to be more to this system, if for no greater reason than that each character had an “opening” for a wife which I never had an opportunity to fill. It is also odd that where many of the previous total war games, including the original Rome, had an actual “family tree” to keep an eye on, this one simply doesn’t.

I come to bury Caeser, not to praise him

Overall the game feels like it was a little too ambitious. Certainly the experience of the launch contributes to this. The game was plagued with bugs and foibles, and during my six weeks playing the game I had three patches come through and significantly improve various elements.

Those patches however can’t change elements which are either included or absent, seemingly without reasonable justification. Many of these things, flaming arrows, a lack of a family tree, or needing to check every region every turn would be forgivable and forgettable in a game that took 20-30 hours and a week to play. But over the course of a month and a half, things like that wear you down and lead you to resent your decision to commit so much time.

I also found, that while the game provides you with a toolkit to create a remarkably “truthy” ancient empire, it seems determined to encourage you not to at every turn. I made an active effort to create legions with local flavour, variation and a realistic balance of units. I would, however, had been better off packing them all together with nothing but invincible Praetorian Guards and hordes of ridiculously overpowered gladiators.

Likewise, in terms of region management, you are strongly pushed to min-max regions to get on top of the food/order mechanic, and will almost always conquer a territory to gain food and access to auxiliary troop types, rather than more realistically building a network of suzerains.

It’s a pity, because all of that crap which bothers you in the later 60-100 hours of this game wastes the amazing promise of that opening night, where the ancient world and it’s latin names sprawls out before you calling for the establishment of an empire worthy of the Senate and Public of Rome.