The time has just come again: the 32nd Summer Olympics began last Saturday, about a year late. Since then, the nations of the world have been fighting for gold, silver and bronze in the Japanese capital Tokyo. Sport in general always writes beautiful, sad, but above all also dramatic stories. Quite a few historical ones
Moments in sports history have already made it to the big screen: With “Cool Runnings”, for example, director John Turteltaub filmed the hard way of the first Jamaican bobsleigh team, which qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The award-winning blockbuster “Rush” deals with the intense Formula 1 duel between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1970s, and with “The Miracle of Bern”, German football history also made it to the cinema.
However, when it comes to stories in sports games, the implementation of the developer usually seems very weak and far from reality. Still, I think the writers should keep trying to create deep stories.
Far from pole position
After a year of abstinence, the official game for the Formula 1 World Championship F1 2021 was given a story mode again. As a big fan of the real premier class, the announcement made me happy on the one hand, but on the other hand a few bad memories of F1 2019 immediately came to mind. Two years ago, Codemasters tried to create an exciting story about the young drivers Lukas Weber, Devon Butler and their own playable character. The result was a thoroughly clichéd story to make others ashamed of them.
Quelle: PC Games
With Braking Point, as the story mode is called in the current part of the series, the development team is approaching my ideas of a virtual Formula 1 story, but Codemasters is nowhere near exhausting its full potential. In reality, Formula 1 offers a lot more drama than blunt intrigues and unnecessary duels between teammates.
The story of F1 2021 is entertaining, but still shaped by illogical decisions that strike me as extremely strange as a fan. More depth besides the track would definitely have helped the title to reinforce the immersion and make the characters more interesting. Negotiations with sponsors, press conferences and discussions with real drivers and team bosses could significantly enhance the story mode in the next few years. That means more effort and an increase in development costs, but with Electronic Arts Codemasters now has a strong publisher at its side.
Quelle: PC Games
As early as 2003, the British game manufacturer launched DTM Race Driver, a racing game with an appealing story. The title also looked fantastic for the time and offered gripping racing action. With the playable character Ryan McKane, DTM Race Driver was not just about making a name for yourself in the world of motorsport, but also about avenging your father’s death on the racetrack. A similar scenario for the official F1 game would of course be a little exaggerated, but it also shows what direction a sports game can take in order to present the player with a compelling story.
Electronic Arts and Codemasters recently announced GRID Legends at EA Play Live. The focus should be on an extensive story with an elaborate staging. In the cutscenes of the title real actors will be seen with the extended reality technology, which is also used in the Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian”. Perhaps GRID Legends will use the experience that the developer studio was able to gather at F1 2021 to create a story apart from the usual zero-to-hero classic.
Alex Hunter has to end his career
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a very special relationship with the FIFA series. I love to spend whole days with friends on the virtual lawn. However, there is also the FUT mode, which I avoid completely, and the cruel AI, which has absolutely nothing to do with a soccer simulation.
Quelle: PC Games
In addition, some parts of the series still offer a story mode. First introduced in FIFA 17, both The Journey and the sequel to FIFA 18 The Journey: Hunter Returns had some interesting aspects, but these wore out very quickly and the modes sank into yawning boredom. The main character Alex Hunter was not entirely innocent of this fact. The young Brit never really developed into a popular figure. I would have absolutely no objection to a mature story in which I can create my own character and then slowly get introduced to life as a professional footballer.
FIFA would get a good deal more credibility from certain events off the pitch. If I’m allowed to take part in tough contract negotiations with my advisor, that might not be absolute reality, but it would definitely be more interesting than listening to the inconsequential conversations between Alex Hunter and his mother over and over again. I would also like to be able to decide what kind of professional I represent.
Do I take on the role of a model player like Toni Kroos, or do I make the headlines like Max Kruse because of my vices? For players who just want to play soccer on the virtual lawn, FIFA still offers enough other game modes. The Volta mode integrated in the last two years, however, will probably be remembered as a nice idea from Electronic Arts. In a standalone game like FIFA Street, Volta works a lot better in my opinion.
But there is another way: For many years, the basketball simulations from 2K Games have offered extraordinarily good story modes in which I get roughly what I want for FIFA. The NBA 2K series isn’t just about on the pitch, it’s around it too. Many other sports games can definitely learn a bit from the fantastic presentation of the title. Pre-game and half-time shows, varied interviews and negotiations with sponsors are on the agenda there.
Unfortunately, in recent years, advertising has also found its way into the game, and so penetratingly that with NBA 2K21 complete spots are played during the loading times. Even after it’s fully loaded, I can’t cancel this. This also has an effect on the actually quite respectable story and reduces the fun of the game.
Of course, there are many other sports games with an integrated story mode that deserve at least a mention: There we have the WWE games from 2K, whose stories don’t take themselves extremely seriously and therefore make me smile every now and then.
Sporty Mario adventures also try their hand at telling a story more often. It wasn’t until June that another sports title appeared with the Italian plumber, Mario Golf: Super Rush, which, however, was unable to fully exploit its potential.
Despite all the failures and disappointments, I remain of the opinion that stories can also work very well in sports games. The developers and publishers just need more courage, better background knowledge and a brilliant idea to make the fans happy.
FIFA, Formula 1 and Co .: Sports games also need a story mode (1) [Quelle: PC Games]
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