FIFA 07 Review
This is beginning to feel like dťjŗ vu all over again. With FIFA 07 we have another sports franchise from EA that has been released on both current and next-gen consoles in which the next-gen version looks great but has only a fraction of the features found in the current generation games. Iím hoping that paying more for less, albeit nice-looking, gameplay is just a consequence of the transitional period between console generations and not a sign of things to come.
Letís start with the number of teams. I just finished reviewing the game for the Xbox which featured over 500 teams, including the American MLS teams. When I first started reviewing the Xbox 360 version I was surprised to see that it had far fewer teams Ė less than 120. I suppose 120 is a lot of teams, but it wonít feel like enough if it doesnít include your favorite team. You get the first divisions of five European leagues and Mexicoís Primera league, but thatís pretty much it outside of a smattering of international teams. .I donít think itís unreasonable to expect the next-gen version of the game that sells for $10 more than the other versions to come with more teams and not almost 80% fewer.
Anyway, the game does indeed look good. The graphics are sharp and the player animations fluid and realistic. What the Xbox 360 version of the game does a lot better than the other versions is capture the physics of the sport. Players feel like they actually have momentum to overcome when changing direction and I have to say that I havenít seen the ball react as realistically in a soccer game before. When the ball bounces off of a player, the goal post, or anything else on the field, it comes off at a realistic angle and not in one of a handful of predefined directions. It all works together to create a game that has the look of the real thing.
The physics of soccer has taken a step forward here but the controls have gone a bit in the other direction. The skill stick is absent from FIFA 07 on the Xbox 360, replaced with a kicking action that will have your player knock the ball in the direction that the stick is moved. Crossover dribbles and other fancy moves have been removed from the game in favor of the ability to tap the ball in different directions. I couldnít even find a real use for this new right stick feature as the player was always locked into following the ball. This is basically what is going on while dribbling anyway, so whatís the point?
Another control mechanism that went south in FIFA 07 is the shot on goal. I have never played a soccer game with such a proclivity for sending your shots wide. And I mean really wide. Two or three goal lengths to the right or left kind of wide. Iím not just talking about long shots here, but shots from well inside the penalty area. To get off a decent shot with any chance of making it requires you to have the player pretty much lined-up with the direction of the shot and then press the shot button without any modification to the direction. Sure, going for the upper corner is not a high percentage shot, but it would be nice to see it hit the crossbar now and again.