FIFA 08 PS2 Review

FIFA has been given another polish down and forced onto shelves near you, hasn’t it? Well, no as a matter of fact. FIFA has instead been given a good kick and EA have built on the success of ’07 to make more improvements to their once ailing series.

So, after the new standards set by ’07, what can ’08 offer? Well first off, EA haven’t tried to revamp the series as massively as in ’07, but why would they? It didn’t need to be done. The game play mechanics have come on a long way since earlier games, the football now seems altogether more sensible and gritty. Instead of being like a shoddy football sim where everything seems robotic, FIFA08 feels more like proper football flowing and reacting like it should. The ball itself is now more like its own entity than a baton that is passed between players, and can be as unpredictable as the real game too. The ball can ricochet off any in the way limbs or bounce erratically if kicked in a certain way. Shots and passes are now far more diverse and can be so easily affected by factors like position, the amount of touches and time taken, much like the real world, and now, not only do you have to move like a footballer, you have to be thinking like a footballer to win.

As you’d expect, FIFA08 comes fully furnished with 30 real-life leagues and many stadiums. A lot of little touches have enhanced the experience, such as it knowing if a team has a rival, and if you go for a quick game, and your set favourite team has a rival, it will always be against these rivals, a well thought out element. As always FIFA08 is deep in single player but inevitably more fun in multiplayer, and combines these very well, allowing mates to join in your single player campaigns prior to any game.

The amount of control you have on the ball is now phenomenal, allowing you to do a range of skills by waggling the right joystick, or perform a variety of passes, as well as other movements, creating a very true to life variety of different options every time you get the ball. The commentators are typically annoyingly repetitive and sometimes just plain stupid, commenting on fantastic saves made when shots go closer to the corner flag than the keeper, which can wear down on you after a while (especially if you can’t get your shots on target no matter how hard you try).

The range of modes on offer means FIFA08 now delivers the complete football package. From the traditional Tournament modes where you can compete in just about any football league or cup you can think of, to challenge and manager modes, FIFA is known for having a lot on the disc. This time round, an inventive new mode has been added which really shines in this otherwise FIFA07 clone of a game. This goes by the name of Be A Pro mode. In an interesting move, you get to choose an existing player, or create your very own, and play for a team of your choice. You will be set individual and team tasks for each match, and be given results afterwards. Levelling up on experience earns you more points to add to your attributes, and makes you a better player. It is a strange combination of sports/RPG but it undoubtedly works to perfection, although it is definitely best enjoyed with friends, competing for the best post-match score, or working together to make some beautiful goals. Be a Pro really does make FIFA08 even more desirable.

Due to the sheer amount of realism in the game, FIFA08 can be frustratingly hard for new players, even on lower difficulties, and the AI can be unrelentingly tough on the player. Learning your way around the game on practice mode really comes in useful here, and can prevent embarrassing 7-1 defeats in league games. This level of play makes sense when you think back to earlier games in the series that, once mastered, became ridiculously easy and score lines quickly became eerily like something out of Mario Strikers. Now playing FIFA is like watching football on the TV, which is exactly where football games should be aiming to be.

What’s disappointing is that there really is little to distinguish it from FIFA07. Unless you’re a die hard football fan, EA haven’t done much to entice owners of FIFA07 into buying this latest rendition. They have however, made a game that is perfect for those who haven’t already bought ’07 to be inducted into the growing FIFA fan base. Another annoying problem is the crowds that bare more than a passing resemblance to cardboard cut-outs. Also, the soundtrack is typically generic pop songs which are more bland than ever.

A fitting final hurrah for FIFA on the PS2, and shows just how far the series has come.

8.1 out of 10

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