Fifa 08 PSP Review

FIFA 08 is one of the strongest and most well known game in EA’s stable of sports titles. It has for years been one of the highest selling games in any genre. Things were all going swimmingly for EA, until the appearance of a little title called Pro Evolution Soccer appeared on the scene. Since then, FIFA has struggled to match the agility of development and fluidity of game mechanics provided by Konami’s football game. Whilst it has been clear what they needed to do to provide a competitive experience, it has taken EA some years to slowly turn their monolith product. This year seems to be the first where the ship is finally heading in a new direction, and FIFA is starting to challenge for the footballing favourite game of the year.

The PSP may not have all the buttons and analogue controllers of its closest console equivalent, but it does have one key feature: portability. Whilst it doesn’t quite match the PS2 experience kick for kick, there is enough here to make it a very enjoyable game that can be played on the move.

The control system is a slightly simplified version of the console configuration. It relies on just the D-Pad or Analogue nub for directional control. If you have the new PSP Slim and Lite, the D-Pad is probably the most compelling option. The new units pad is just that bit more responsive and provides a much more positive feel during pressured play.

The four face buttons on the PSP are used as you would expect, and provide the same functions as found on the console versions of the game. These are then complemented by Right trigger running and Left trigger trickery. The running is self explanatory, whilst the Left trigger is used in combination with the buttons or D-Pad to achieve some of the more complex (and essential) moves in the game. Together these controls still feel they are lacking in any genuine analogue input, but as a whole they make sense and work pretty well.

Visually, things seem to be on a par with the PS2. The PSP does have the odd moment when the graphics pop or click, or a slight tear appears, but largely it copes pretty well with the amount of donkey work being asked of it. Most noticeable for us was the application of the stadium’s shadow on the pitch. During normal play this was fine, but in cut scenes of speciality kicks it seems to flick in and out. Not a major point but it did detract from the overall feel of the game.

The commentary seems to be where the PSP falls the furthest behind. It appears much of the match dialog is accessed from the UMD. This not only greatly reduced battery time for the game, but also means some key comments lag the action by a second or two. It can make some of the voice work seem odd and laboured and out of touch with the rest of the action. This is a shame as, apart from this, the quality of the spoken content and music is top notch.

The game offers all the usual modes and competitions that we have seen in previous iterations of FIFA. And of course the players, clubs and stadiums are all updated for this year’s football season. This is all well and good, but one has to wonder just where all the money has gone in this game, when it is essentially a conservative update on last year’s edition.

The novelty of mobility needs to last for you if it is going to provide the value its price demands. If you are not sold on the value of portability or have last year’s game on the PSP then you may want to get FIFA on another platform, or wait until next year before upgrading.

A solid version of FIFA that is great to play on the move.

8 out of 10
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