Over the past few years, EA has attempted to revamp and revitalise its once dominant series. Always failing to capture the entertainment of an arcade game and the seriousness of a realistic simulation, FIFA 07 was a big step towards finding this intricate balance. FIFA 08 however totally reinvents itself even from this, with a host of new features and soccer as we’ve never seen it before.
FIFA has added an additional 24 league licenses bringing the grand total up to 30 licensed and registered leagues including our very own Hyundai A-League letting us kiwis take the field as the Wellington Phoenix.
The addition of a trick system is a definite positive in terms of gameplay. Players can execute a variety of moves from simple step-over’s and flicks, to overhead flicks, juggling and volley shots from flicks. Though it takes time to grasp some of these combos the payoff is rewarding.
The usual host of gameplay modes are present, but a major new addition is the “Be-A-Pro” mode where players take control of a sole player within a team. Here you’re awarded or deducted points in real time based on your performance, these included keeping in position off the ball. The fantastic camera angles and how they adjust add an extra level of excitement (think Gears of War).
Players will however be left wondering what could have been with this game mode. It appears as though EA has put this out as a test to see how fans respond to it by restricting its use to only isolated single games. What EA have planned is anybody’s guess, but we’re picking career modes taking control of a single player and full 11 on 11 online matches! Some exciting prospects for sure.
A multitude of game modes are pointless though if the game itself isn’t up to par, EA certainly hasn’t held back here. Expect a much slower, controlled football game thanks to a completely redefined AI system. The AI system controls each player individually and makes for some challenging, realistic matches.
For online play this year, EA has integrated ESPN Soccernet. This lets players keep track of all their favourite clubs and players, providing real time scores, fixtures and statistics for six of the world’s major leagues. Online play is as good as ever, providing (generally) lag free gameplay and a few tweaks from last years online offering.
EA has taken some definite risks this year, and with redefined gameplay, additional licenses and “Be-A-Pro” have not only given themselves a fantastic product for this year, have set themselves up for some exciting things to come.