FIFA soccer has all the licensing that you’d expect out of an EA Sports title. There are 350+ international club teams, all with real players and uniforms. You can unlock licensed gear by accomplishing certain tasks during the game, and finally, after years of waiting, you can unlock a referee as a bonus! Yeah, but anyway.
There are several different play modes, including: Head to Head play, Challenges mode, Season, Mid-Season, Custom Season modes, Tournaments, and Custom Tournaments. The Season mode is a bit misleading however, since you can only play the games during the season and can’t transfer players, or manage your team. EA and FIFA deliver all of the basics for a great soccer game but the controls can take some getting used to. Players are unable to quickly stop and change direction, instead making huge turns, like a station wagon trying to make a u-turn. It’s easier to just switch to another defender if you get beaten, because you’re never going to catch back up. The opposition AI plays fairly well, giving the player a decent challenge without being lop-sided - however patience and practice is recommended before taking on the Tournaments. The visuals are a highlight of the game and will match the quality seen in the PS2 versions of the FIFA series. Detailed faces for the players in the slow-mo close-ups is impressive, but unfortunately there isn’t much variety to the character animations. The stadiums are nicely rendered, but the crowds seem fairly lifeless - however the sound creates a decent atmosphere. One annoying factor is an “EA Live” logo that stays present in the top right of the screen for the entire game. We’re not too sure why, but if they had that much extra space to kill, perhaps making the players larger might have been a good solution.
One of FIFA’s biggest strengths is its audio. From the announcing team of John Motson and Ally McCoist, to the eclectic mix of artists in the EA soundtrack, everything is top-notch. The commentary certainly isn’t as varied as what you’d expect to hear on a console, but it’s much better than some of the other PSP sports games have offered up.