So another year comes along and Electronic Arts release another version of their long-running football game with next year’s 08 stamped on the front. This being the first proper game for the next-gen consoles, it should be better, but is it? Well I’m about to tell you.
To be honest, the main game feels very similar to Fifa 2007 in the way it plays. The menus are almost identical, the nice touch at the start screen where you get to have a bit of a kick about with Ronaldinho’s still there, and picking up and playing the actual game proper feels very similar. There are new ways to control the ball using the left trigger and right analogues stick but during the heat of a game, you rarely have time to think to use them and if you do, pull them off correctly.
What you’re paying for with this version is of course the updated official teams and their transfers, some smarter AI, new interactive and custom leagues, the management mode and of course the new ‘Be a Pro’ mode.
One thing that’s worth mentioning straight away is that this new AI has made the game MUCH tougher. If tried playing as Liverpool on Pro mode and got a very realistic result based on the way the team are actually playing at the moment – I couldn’t get in the box let alone actually score a goal. Dropping the difficulty to semi-pro however resulted in a more fun game where my through balls actually got to my strikers without being intercepted. There are loads of leagues, cups and competitions to play through so there’s bound to be something for any footy fan.
The “Be a Pro” mode is a very interesting feature that’s certainly worth a try. You play as a single player on the pitch and move into space, pass, defend and call for the ball as a lone player. I chose to play as Steven Gerrard and really enjoyed working hard for the team, at one point I even ran up the wing to cross the ball for Torres to get on the end of and score. Very satisfying indeed.
When it comes to the graphics, the likenesses of the players seem to have got worse. The game’s a much tighter affair which is great news, some of the players look similar but some are way off with the wrong hair colour or, it seems, very bad plastic surgery. They all look a bit like waxworks. Audio’s spot on though, the commentary makes it feel like you’re watching a game on Sky Sports and it’s slick as ever.
Of course, playing other people is where this game really shines. It’s great fun beating a friend or a stranger online and always has you wanting one more go.
When all’s said and done, I think Pro Evolution Soccer will once again take the football game crown but this game is definitely worth a look if you’re a FIFA fan or if you’re interested in trying Be A Pro mode, it goes some way to EA’s vision of having every player on live playing a real team member. Fifa 08 gets 7 out of 10.