IGN Review of FIFA Soccer 09
At this point, it's safe to assume that FIFA Soccer 09 is a good, solid game of soccer, at least for Nintendo DS standards. It's been one of the most consistent and consistently good titles of all the EA Sports franchises on the handheld, and as long as the same development team's at the helm, and as long as guys responsible are not just sitting on their hands and scribbling out the "08" from last year's title and writing in "09" as their contribution for the new season, they've pretty much guaranteed a quality soccer offering on the DS.
Lucky for us the team went a little further this year, mostly in its visuals. Not content with its engine running at 30 frames per second for its 11-on-11-plus-Ref gameplay, Exient managed to squeeze a little more horsepower out of the Nintendo DS hardware to get the game running at a silky smooth 60 FPS with very little lost in the move. You'll still find the occasional texture blink on the athletes or the background environments, and the instant replays will hiccup as the game jumps from camera to camera, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in this updated graphics engine. The game flows impressively smooth – you're still not going to get a stunning visual experience if you put the DS version side-by-side with the current generation consoles, but when you stick with the handheld standards the DS version comes out pretty well on its own.
The core gameplay remains the same and aside from a few tweaks in the animation, ball handling and computer AI routines you're not going to find anything drastically different in these areas when you compare the 2009 edition to 2008. However, Exient did add "Be a Pro" to the mix, so now you can play an entire season as a specific player on a team. You watch the game from his perspective and must play his position – you can stray from the hotspots if you want to be a ball hog, but the game does a good job telling you where you need to be as the play progresses. The Be a Pro works pretty well on the Nintendo DS because of the two different screens – you're locked into a forced perspective on the top-screen, but you can follow the action in the top-down "radar" on the bottom that moves in relation to your chosen "Be a Pro." Of course, there are downsides to this mode, most notably in progression: get a red card and your game is over. It's devastating when it happens, but on the flipside it makes sense and adds an element of conservation to keep players from constantly slide-tackling.
Everything else that was great about 2008 remains: fantastic multiplayer support, both in local wireless (single and multicard) and in the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for worldwide play.
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