Another year, another FIFA release. First of all it has to be pointed out that there’s a big difference between the PC and Xbox versions of the game. The Xbox version has a lot more polished look about it, unlike the PC version which looks pretty much like a port. There is a vibrance about the visuals of the console version that is just lacking on the PC. The colours are a lot brighter and sharper, the turf actually looks like grass. Apart from a few notable players like Ronaldinho and Rooney (both of whom adorn the cover of the game) most players look nothing like their real life counterparts. Gary Neville, for example, like an adolescent and Michael Ballack looks as alike to the real deal as chalk is to cheese.
Onto the game itself and the standard play modes awaited me. The friendly mode and season-long manager mode are still there. In the latter you take control of a club for a whole season and have to manage the entire club, including finances and player contracts and transfers. There’s the option to simulate a game you don’t want to play and you’ll find yourself using it a lot more than you might have thought. After all, it does get boring to play 40 games in a season. Nothing really new here, but the Be A Pro mode is a real revelation. In it, you’ll get control of one and only one player throughout the game, while the rest of your team (as well as the opponents of course) is controlled by the AI. The idea is to take you away from your position as the centre of the game’s universe and make you just another cog in the wheel. It can be a frustrating experience at times, particularly when the AI plays a silly pass or loses possession but it’s also a surprisingly enjoyable experience.
The regular gameplay is where FIFA 08 will earn the most plaudits. The previous titles seemed too arcade-ish and at times completely unreal, but FIFA 08 makes a big move towards being an accurate simulation. Player movements are much more in tune with what you might expect, as are the touches on the ball. Passing and shooting can be a difficult thing to do if you’re used to playing the game on a PC like I was.
In game commentary is good, Unfortunately there are a lot of problems when it comes to calling attacking plays. Quite frequently a wild miss will be called a good save by the keeper or a near miss.
Minor niggles aside FIFA 08 was a game of many surprises. I never expected it to be any different from earlier versions. Fanboys aside, you may want to check this one out.