IGN Review of FIFA Soccer 08
As any knowledgeable gamer knows the Wii is a unique system. Its motion-based controls make gameplay experiences completely different from what the alternative consoles on the market can offer. Every genre has had to find a way to conform to the Wii's innovative play mechanic but some have stumbled a bit along the way. The sports genre is one that has yet to find its foothold on the Wii. Football doesn't feel quite right, basketball has always been a little rough around the edges, and golf is nowhere near as realistic as it should be. Soccer (known as football across the pond) is now taking a stab at bringing its precise gameplay to Nintendo's surging console with FIFA 08. The game brings the standard Family Play feature set as well as customized Wii controls, but the real question is: how well does the sport of soccer translate onto the motion-centric system?
FIFA 08 on Wii looks and feels much like the other EA Sports offerings of this season. There are two types of control schemes which include advanced and Family Play, as all EA-made sports games tend to do. The Family Play set of controls basically eliminates the nunchuk attachment from the equation, meaning you can't control where your players are going on the field in any way. Every movement is controlled by the AI, and will only be used by people who have never played a soccer game before. Cuts and runs at the goal aren't nearly as intuitive using this mechanic, so be warned, advanced controls are definitely the way to go.
The combination of the nunchuk and Wiimote perform reasonably well in most facets of the game of soccer, with only the precision of the cross and shot power meters lacking a bit. Occasionally when taking a free kick, or just a general shot on goal the power meter can be difficult to control. Sometimes they'll come out at max power when you intend for them to be soft, and vice versa. Such is the crux of the Wiimote, at least for now.
My favorite control innovation on Wii is the throw-in. Basically you perform a motion that's identical to the real thing with both the Wiimote and nunchuk. It's great because it allows you to become the person you're throwing to, run around and establish position, then make the throwing motion to toss the ball in. It's all a very realistic experience and is easily the best of the Wii-only moves.
Some of the classic FIFA problems still persist however, like when your players are stuck on rails making a run. It doesn't happen quite as often as it does on PS3 and Xbox 360, but the Wii version does still have the moments of uncontrollability. Another negative aspect of the gameplay that some players will definitely complain about is that they've apparently lessened the aggressive AI that can be found in the other versions in order to accommodate for the Wii controls being more unwieldy. You won't be scoring a ridiculous amount of goals or anything, but there is definitely a noticeable difference.
As far as the offering of game modes, you'll find everything that you found in the PS2 version here, with a menu presentation that is more reminiscent of what was scene on PSP than anything else. The menu system certainly feels like it's old school and not in a very good way. Now back to the subject of game modes. Manager mode, tournaments, quick play, interactive leagues, and challenges are all still in the game. All of the offline play works just as you'd expect, but the online exhibited a bit of unnecessary lag when compared to other versions of the game.
There are a few game modes that didn't quite make the cut though, like the Be A Pro mode that you'll find in the PS2 and next-gen versions. That's bad enough, but when you throw in the fact that you also won't find the trick stick anywhere in the Wii version, some might be seriously letdown.
Where the Wii attempts to set itself apart from the rest of the FIFA 08 contingent is in the Footii Party with Ronaldinho (yes, that's the actual name). Essentially you and up to three of your buddies can sign in to your respective Mii's and participate in either Table Football, Juggling, or Boot It. Table Football is nothing more than foosball wrapped in a Wii shell. It's functional, but nothing all that special. Boot It is the best of the three, even if it is a little inaccurate with its use of the Wiimote. Basically Ronaldinho plays the role of the goalie and you have to fire off shots in an attempt to score and hit point icons behind him. It's fast paced and delivers a good amount of fun. The Juggling mini-game is probably the worst of the three simply because we've seen it before in other EA Sports games. Basically you flick the Wiimote and press buttons at a certain time to match the prompt on-screen. Hooray for cheesy rhythm-based games!
Visually FIFA 08 on Wii has the standard look of all games on Nintendo's console. Which is to say that it isn't exactly a visual showcase. The player models are reminiscent of what you'd see on PS2 with weirder close ups that fail to deliver sharper facial animations and textures, even though they're obviously trying. The animations do look solid though, even if the models pulling them off don't.
The aural offering is a mixed bag of sorts. The commentating is solid but won't wow anyone, and the crowd noise seems like it could have been pumped up a bit to really convey a sense of excitement. The soundtrack, like always, comes through and delivers an internationally savvy set of tracks.
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