FIFA Soccer 08 Review
There are a ton of games released every year and I've been gaming for somewhere around 30 years. Besides letting you know I'm really old I also wanted to point out that I have played more games than I can remember. Yet though all those games I can say that I have only played a soccer game once or twice. How could something like that happen? My explanation is that I'm an American and we, as a general guideline, just don't care that much for the sport so there's little chance I'm going to be spending my valuable gaming time on it. I'm not knocking the sport, I just don't understand it. When I signed up to review EA Sport's FIFA Soccer 08 for the PlayStation 3 I was interested seeing what I had been missing all my life. After all the entire world loves soccer, so they can't all be wrong can they?
FIFA is making its first appearance on the PS3 this year, although it does have some next-gen experience with the 360. Maybe it's thanks to that prior 360 experience but this does not seem like a first year release. It's a very good-looking game with many game modes and solid, if not hard to learn, controls. There are 30 official leagues, over 300 teams, real stadiums and 15,000 players. Yes, 15,000! I have to admit that I only recognized a few players (Beckham and Ronaldo included) and teams but after a several hours with FIFA 08 I certainly do know more about the sport.
I think it's fair to say that FIFA 08 is not an "arcadey" game. What I mean is that this is not a game you're going plop in your PS3 casually and expect to get the most out of it. This is a hard game to get used to but that's not a knock against it, well at least not a big knock. Maybe instead of hard I should say deep. The controls are deep with a steep learning curve, especially the skill moves which usually involves using both analog sticks with the L2 button. It takes a couple of hours at least to begin to get comfortable with the controls but the moves you can pull off are pretty sweet. Part of what makes the controls nice once you get the hang of them is that the animations are very smooth. It seems that EA Sports has overhauled all their games to include transitional animations so that you're not waiting for one animation to end before the next one starts. That comes in handy when making passes and some of the more complex skill moves. The AI of both your teammates and those of the other team seeem to be good. Now granted I'm not familiar with soccer rules or strategy so I can't be positive that they were always doing the right thing, but it sure did seem like if something went wrong it was more my fault then the AI's. EA Sports claims that players go though 1,000 different decisions every second, or 60,000 every minute. My guess is that was more than I was doing.
Graphically FIFA 08 is strong with a lot of detail in the players. Of course since most of the game is shown from a high-up, overheard view it's not always noticeable, but zoom in during replays and you see the details. The framerate is constant throughout, with some small exceptions during replays, which is something that not all EA Sports games have been able to claim on the PS3. The stadiums are beautiful and with crowds that live up to the soccer fan reputation of being loud and rowdy. The crowds undoubtedly understand the game much better than I do and they know when to cheer and when to be ticked off. As fun as the crowd is I wish that the announcers where engaged in the game as much. They rarely raise their enthusiasm on even the most exciting goals.
FIFA 08 contains a plethora of game modes. There is the Manager mode where you can get into the details of signing, trading, and even selling players along with player growth where you nurture your players to stardom. You can jump right into the action from the Kickoff mode where you don't worry about anything but picking the teams and playing. Even more modes include tournaments and the challenge mode. There are a bunch of tournaments, about 60 of them, and the challenge mode gives your certain tasks to complete. Seeing how I'm new to the sport I would have liked to have some sort of training mode along the lines of Madden. There are some on-screen prompts to help out the rookies in some modes but I needed more help than that. One mode that I found interesting was the Be A Pro mode. This is where you take control of a single player for the match instead of controlling the whole team. As the match progresses you are constantly being graded on things such as being in the right position on the pitch, passes, tackles, etc. For example, if you end up too far out of place on the pitch your grade will go down. Of course, unlike American football, you're always on the pitch so you'll need to be good at both offense and defense. Playing as only one player can be good and bad. It's more realistic but at times can be a bit boring or at least boring to a noobie. There are several online modes for those that like to go that route and they include tournaments and Be-A-Pro.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 83%. FIFA Soccer 08 is a little overwhelming at first to non-soccer fans but with a deep control system, good graphics, and a bunch of modes, those wanting a full soccer game will be happy.