A minor refinement on last year's reinvention.
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It's nearly Christmas, and EA is in full swing, pumping out its latest release of every sports game in the catalogue. Like most this year, FIFA 08 isn't exactly going to set the world alight. In fact, it's little more than FIFA 07 with a couple of new features and this season's players in their respective coloured kits. Let's hope the Christmas transfer season doesn't make a mess of everything...
EA has evidently learned a lesson from the cringe-inducing releases of FIFA - Road to World Cup, followed by FIFA World cup back in 06. Last year's FIFA was an almost complete overhaul of the game, so expecting this to be done every year would be folly. EA has included new game modes and more official franchises in their shiny new next-gen footie game, and those with a PS3 or Xbox 360 this Christmas will be able to enjoy a game of soccer on their HDTV.
FIFA 07 revamped gameplay and introduced gameplay much more similar to Pro Evolution Soccer, with improved team mechanics and ball control. This is still the case, and my first few matches were the classic Glaswegian Old Firm battles. As my wife is from a Celtic supporting family (the Dark Side) and I was playing her sister's boyfriend (a Sith) there was a lot on the line for these games!
FIFA immediately shows its strengths - with presentation on the way to matches and excellent likenesses for real world players, you're immediately immersed in the match. Rangers hero Barry Ferguson looks every bit the cheeky young scamp he is in real life much to my delight - and my in-law's ridicule.
While these games were certainly heated enough (although not to the same degree as the riots after real Old Firm games), FIFA 08, like 07, does have some issues with gameplay that just haven't been addressed.
Build up play is a must in FIFA 08, and it seems to be the only way the game can be played. This means that it never feels as quickly paced as its Konami-produced rival. Making long runs on the break up the park results in almost no support for your attacker, so you are forced to pass back, then cross across to the left, then pass around again waiting for the moment to make a break in defence. The idea of Celtic holding off whilst Rangers pass the ball amongst themselves and 60,000 screaming hoops fans go wild at Parkhead is absolutely laughable, however in FIFA 08 it looks like normal practice.
One of the main reasons for this is in tackling. Whilst the sliding tackle is a powerful tool, any slip on timing is likely to result in a booking. Light challenges feel mistimed and weak, if they happen at all. This issue can be avoided by forcing the computer to challenge the ball holder for you but it takes control away from the player and should have been much easier to put in a steady challenge yourself.