Declaring that “sound is an important part of video games” would be a massive understatement. When audio is executed effectively, it provides depth, energy, and emotion–even soul–to games. In the FIFA series, audio in the form of commentary, stadium sounds, menu effects, and on-pitch sound effects, adds a layer of realism and sometimes–when you’re playing the game–almost makes you feel like you’re in the stadium.
I’ve always enjoyed the commentary in FIFA and I remember being excited the first time “real announcers” were included in the game. The tandem of John Motson and Scotsman Ally McCoist called out my players’ names and made me feel like a pro long before the days of “Be a Pro”. In 2005, Motson and McCoist were replaced by the long-time commentary team of Clive Tyldesley and the popular Andy Gray. EA then replaced Gray with Alan Smith for FIFA 12 after Gray’s controversial, sexist comments that were caught behind the scenes.
The addition of Martin Tyler to the team for FIFA ’09 was welcomed since it added some much needed variety. Just as you might not want to hear the same commentator every time you watch a match on television, some variety in video game commentary is very refreshing. In fact, I’ve come to prefer Martin Tyler over Clive Tyldesley. Really, I have no complaints about Tyldesley’s or Tyler’s commentary other than they’ve perhaps been doing a great job for too long…
In fact, I’ve been known to occasionally switch the commentary language to French or Mexican Spanish (just for a few matches) just for a little variety. The other commentators also do a great job and there are millions of FIFA players whose first language is not English. It’s my belief that more choice is better. Why not add more commentators but still keep the current choices. When Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 are released in about a year, surely they’ll have the capacity for even more audio data.
I think it’s time for some new blood in FIFA 14 and I’ve nominated three new commentators (all Englishmen, but 1 North-America based) to provide audio for next fall’s release:
1. Ian Darke
Week after week, I look forward to Saturday morning when I get to listen to Ian Darke (and his partner, Steve McManaman) introduce and call what is certain to be an exciting Premier League match.
Darke is definitely one of the top Premier League play-by-play men and his knowledge and delivery are right up there with the best in the English-speaking sports world.
2. Arlo White
Last November, before the 2011-2012 season, NBC hired Arlo White as the voice of soccer. This was a great move in my opinion as White has been, for the past few years, hands down the top North American soccer commentator, and definitely my favorite. Before becoming the Seattle Sounders’ play-by-play man, White spent nine years working at BBC, most notably presenting Five Live.
White has the great ability to describe the play and the setting efficiently and colourfully. If you don’t believe me, just ask any Sounders fan, or see for yourself in this video.
3. John Helm
Who better to call EA’s “game in the game”, than John Helm, the man who called the last three World Cup Finals and the last two Euro Cup Finals? Helm has what seems to have an infinite vocabulary–he is the David Attenborough of football. Even if he does have less football knowledge than a lot of the ex-pro commentators, he really does have a soothing, beautiful way of describing every play.
Want another reason? Helm replaced Martin Tyler at Yorkshire Television in 1981 as the regional station’s football commentator. I really enjoy Martin Tyler, but wouldn’t it be fitting to see Helm replace him again, this time on FIFA 14?