FIFA 08 is looking to be a major success for EA. Never before have the team captured the reality of football and condensed it into a comprehensive footballing title
FIFA 08 is a radical improvement of those stale instalments of past. And not similar to those girlfriends you want to leave firmly in the past, it is purely about the future for FIFA. To some this is about as good as sex gets.
With an introduction like that you’d probably be thinking you’re about to consider purchasing the definitive game of the year. I’ll set the record straight, it does have flaws. But then what game doesn’t?
The players aren’t that good looking...
Look at the ball, not the sky!
To put it in simple terms, FIFA 08 is bloody difficult. Football is all about scoring, right? Wrong. FIFA 08 focuses on making a realistic football title with the minimal of goals possible. After all unless your name is Manchester United, real-life football doesn’t have that many goals per game! It’s frustrating and you’ll be throwing the controller at the near misses that you can’t quite convert but what you can be guaranteed of is a comprehensive and slick footballing game.
On the surface some of the changes look minimal. Graphically FIFA 08 looks very much like its predecessor albeit with some smoother looking pitches and players and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve just gone and wasted another £40 on a crap update.
The real update to FIFA 08 is in the underlying game. The engine feels more fluid and tighter to play with and requires more skill on your part. Games of old required you to run down the centre, shoot and score. FIFA 08 changes this and makes you pass, play and perfect your shooting until the ball hits the back of the net. Tactics are the key now and thus the learning curve is higher than in previous titles but is a joy to behold once mastered.
What you looking at?
Keeping the crown jewels safe
Making a welcome return are skills which can be mastered by tapping and pushing buttons and triggers. This is strictly for the pro players however as it is pointless trying to pull off a trick, failing and letting the opposition head up the field and belt one in. But if you do master them you’ll be laughing all the way to the cup final.
One of the best new features this year which adds a new angle to the game is the Be A Pro mode which allows you to control one key player from a team of your choice. Instead of controlling the whole field of eleven men you’ll control your favourite player and try and enhance his performance in that position. It’s a new way to play a football game and it works quite well. You won’t always be on the ball and you’ll end up running round the field quite a-lot but when you run through the defence and power the ball into the net you’ll feel personal satisfaction.
Scoring is difficult as a mentioned earlier. Most of the goals come from crosses into the box rather than skilled runs down the centre. It can be done but the defence will usually have the upper hand. That said you’ll be finding you rely on your own defence a hell of a lot more than in previous games; an integral part of the team and making sure the opposition doesn’t score.
Also new to the series is that each player has abilities and skills of which are available in Manager Mode. Each player gains experience (in the form of EXP points) and this can build players abilities in specific areas of the field such as attacking or defence. Manager Mode itself is very much like last year; you pick a team and try and succeed in the league and cup paying attention to the fact your job could be at stake after a few losses.
The stadiums don’t actually look this good
I don’t actually know who these players are
Commentary this season comes from Martin Tyler and Andy Gray of Sky Sports fame and although with each yearly instalment comes fresh and invigorating commentary speech, it still suffers in its own respect. Yes they come out with facts and chatter amongst each other, but once you’ve heard it the first time, it isn’t something you’ll want to hear time and time again. Sadly it seems without some wonder commentary we’ll never get that much varied speech. The other problem is the delay between what is spoken and what is happening on screen. You’ll bang a goal in and once play has resumed the commentary team will be going mad still.
Thankfully the crowd ambience is better than previous titles, chanting, cheering and booing as appropriate. EA planned to incorporate custom team chants and although it seems some clubs chant minor things, others are lacking somewhat in there usual team songs. It’d be nice next year to take this a step further and make it as accurate as possible. Don’t get me started on the static crowd which ‘watches’ the game however with poor animation during cut scenes which resemble inflatable dolls. This is 2007, not 1997!
EA are due to introduce a fresh new 5v5 feature online during the next few months, however at the moment your standard 1v1 and 2v2 matches can take place. As ever though most peoples tactics are to run down the sides and cross the ball in, but then if you can’t beat ‘em why not join ‘em? Online games are generally free of any lag which can be more than said of its rival Pro Evolution 2008. The 5v5 feature will hopefully run smoothly when it does launch and I for one look forward to it!
Overall FIFA 08 is looking to be a major success for EA. Never before have the team captured the reality of football and condensed it into a comprehensive footballing title. Granted it’s hard and yes you’ll end up using the cheap tactics of past but with over 15,000 licensed players, 30 leagues and the teams that litter them, FIFA 08 is a joy to play. Only time will tell if the game can begin to win over its bitter rivals from Pro Evolution 2008. Just remember football is better than sex.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Beating Manchester United 5-0 in the FA Cup Final as Birmingham City.