IGN Review of FIFA Soccer 08
First things first, soccer is not soccer, it's football. For the rest of this review every time you see the word football - and this only applies to Americans, the rest of the world will already know what I'm talking about - I'm actually talking about soccer. The last few entries in EA Sports' FIFA series have been some of the best football that we've seen as far as last-gen goes. The gameplay was as sharp as a knife, the graphics were - well, they were PS2 graphics but still held their own. Heck, the games came as close as any EA football effort has to equaling the glory of Winning Eleven 9. Is FIFA 08 the game to bring down Konami's run of supremacy? Read on to find out.
Unlike the current-gen alternative, FIFA 08 on PS2 does not feel like a slightly undercooked game that could have been great. What gamers will find on their aging Sony platform is a football title that has all of its ducks in a row with features to spare. Remember how current-gen users got a Be a Pro Mode that only allowed you to play in one game with only one human player taking part? Well, on the PS2 you can create your own all-star hopeful with three of your friends and bring them through an entire season, improving your attributes all along the way. You won't find the same repositioned camera angle and stylish icons that pop up to make the experience a bit more all-encompassing, but it's still fun nonetheless. Even if you can't take it online, it's still nice to be able to play an entire season with your buddies.
There are also a few different types of online leagues that you can join in this year's game. You and a bunch of your cohorts can pick your squads, then compete against each other in Interactive Leagues where your team's rank is tracked against other global players, or you can participate in a standard grudge match-style tournament. Either way, the action online with the PS2 played out just as you'd expect with only slight lag depending on the distance between you and your opponent.
The biggest change that EA Sports made to the way you'll play on the pitch this year has to do with manual controls. They're not all that dissimilar from what PS3 and Xbox 360 players will see in FIFA 08, but they do provide for a solid level of control. Basically you'll have the freedom to kick your crosses and through balls as hard as you want and in any direction possible. No more being tethered to an animation or predetermined direction, in this year's game it all depends on the position of your left analog stick and how long you hold down the respective button. You'll also have the ability to manually switch between players with a flick of the right analog. Again, nothing earth shattering, but the subtle changes are still appreciated.
Other than that the changes to the gameplay are fairly minimal. The artificial intelligence in FIFA 08 on PS2 isn't up to the same level as what we've seen from the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail builds, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Goals are slightly more plentiful thanks to the fact that the defenders aren't constantly breathing down your neck when maneuvering on their half of the field. We had a few scores that occurred just because we were able to dribble just outside of the 18-yard line uninhibited and blast a shot. It's not as though we were punching in six or seven goals per game, but they certainly came more often than they would have on PS3.
There are now custom formations in the game, so you'll be able to assign your players specific attacking and defensive runs and fiddle with the general formation of your team, just so long as you stay within the confines of the rules. It's another simple addition, and one that will likely be taken for granted, but the fact it's in there at all earns the game some extra brownie points.
Aside from the new modes that we've already mentioned you'll also find several old favorites that, while they haven't changed much, are still fun to toy around with. The meat of the game will still be the Manager Mode for the true soccer diehards, as it gives you total control of the moves of your favorite team. You can now assign preseason friendly matches and there are also a slew of new training options, some of which are unlockable, that will help develop your team's football prowess.
FIFA 08 also has the classic challenge mode that seems to be finding its way into more and more of the EA Sports lineup. Essentially you select a section of the world, then a league to play in. You'll then be given a specific set of win conditions, like scoring a certain amount of goals on a given difficulty and the only way you can unlock the next challenge is to beat those win conditions. The mode is simple enough but there are a ton of challenges to work through and should definitely be appreciated by the many diehard fans that are out there.
On top of that there's a practice mode to hone your skills, a lounge mode, and a tournament mode where you can participate in plenty of licensed tournaments or create your own, depending on what you're in the mood for.
The overall feeling that players will get from playing FIFA 08 on PS2 is one of control, much more so than what we see on Xbox 360 and PS3. You can adjust to passes a bit better, you can nudge guys off of balls in the air, and you can call defenders to your goalie when he takes a goal kick so you can stop your human opponents from getting a cheap steal and then getting an easy score. You'd be hard pressed to find anything to add to FIFA 08 on last-gen systems at this point, which makes this version feel like a fitting conclusion to an awesome series.
It's too bad that the presentation values of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 couldn't be melded with the awesome gameplay of the PS2. As it stands the visuals on the aging system are definitely starting to show their wrinkles. The blurry player models from last year's game are back again and everything from the cinematics to the replays just don't look all that good. Even the pitch looks a bit barren. The animations still performs well, even if they aren't as detailed as they are on current-gen platforms.
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