Just not too long ago in 2006 did EA Sports released an outstanding sports title Fifa 07. Many regarded it as a great improvement from Fifa 06 and that EA finally decided to improve its soccer games. With that said, Fifa 08 was just released a few days back and the claims made simply sounds majestic. Fifa 08 aims to give users better gaming experience as well as trying to fascinate players with its next-generation graphics. However, is that enough to impress the fans and players? Or is it simply a failure? I will give you my comments on the PC version of Fifa Soccer 08 as well as what I think about the console versions (I did not play them, just saw it through trailers etc).I would like to repeat once more that I will be giving you my review based on the PC version and not the next-gen consoles (PS3 and Xbox360). You will know why I strongly emphasize this at the end of the review. If you have been reading my blog, you might notice that I gave my thoughts on the PC Fifa Soccer 08 demo version. And my thoughts were completely negative and not a single praise has been added. Then and there I also stated how much I longed for the be-a-pro mode and I can finally try it out as I finish installing my Fifa 08 game.
Like always, sleek menus, easily navigated. I always have no problems with EA Sports games. Nothing much to comment about the presentation of the game.
Fifa 07 previous generation graphics. That basically sums everything up. Nope, do not expect the graphics to be what you see on the gameplay trailers nor the screenshots put up at several gaming portals. Those screenshots and video clips belongs to the Xbox360 and PS3 versions, not the PC. What you see in the demo, is what you get. Nothing less, nothing more. I would not complain much as such graphics ought to be what people call average, but what disgusts me is how unchanged they were from Fifa 07. The stadiums, pitches and players have the same original details as of Fifa 07. I actually thought the demo was just rushed out thus giving the poor graphics display etc, but the sad truth is that no EA Sports meant the graphics to be that way; exactly how it was in the demo. Horrible, simply horrible. I know by now many Fifa fans would be cursing my arse for such horrible and negative comments on their beloved game, but guess what, just accept the fact that EA did not care much about we PC users/fans/players. With all that said, lets go on to the sound shall we? We ought to give everything a second chance and what matters most in games are their gameplay right?
Sound in soccer games are usually made up of the commentary and the noise the crowd makes. I always thought commentary in Fifa 08 suppresses all other soccer games such as Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer etc. Since that is the case, we shall compare Fifa 08’s commentary with Fifa 07’s. I would say nothing different, the same old get-boring-easily commentary done by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray. It would be interesting for your first few matches but you might get used to the lines really quickly. Also some negative thoughts about the commentary (Those before stated were neutral, yes neutral) is that sometimes in very exciting moments the commentators seldom react accordingly. They will continue with their monotonous voice reporting on the most exciting moments of the game. Right perhaps the commentating engine is not there yet but for now, it is all good. Crowd seems to chant random cheers at times, however they react rather well when you score goals or when it is a good shot etc. In menus (basically when you are not in any matches) you are treated to over 50 soundtracks. That is about it, the sound as always is not much a major concern except to enhance match experiences in soccer matches.
Ah we finally come to the most important factor that makes a soccer game, or all games, a good game. What I believe is most important in a soccer game is that it must be realistic. Wait I forgotten, I will not be giving you my comments on the manager mode etc (what matters most is the in-match gameplay right? That is the main feature everyone is looking forward to in Fifa/Soccer games.) And also the much anticipated new feature (a huge feature) ea sports made, the be-a-pro mode where you control one player throughout the season and basically you play as him. Somewhat something like a career mode (Same in Madden NFL hall-of-fame (not too sure about the name) mode).
Controls are as per normal to Fifa 07. Fifa 08 however introduces the manual through ball and crossing. Hard to use at first but when mastered, it would serve as a very good attacking tool for you. Before the released there was a developer walkthrough video clip which states that skills now must be executed with precise timing with the analog sticks (if you have a controller that is). However, that feature is only available for the next-gen consoles version. Sad? Perhaps not as maybe EA was thinking about us PC users as most of us use the keyboard to play. Shooting and passing seems to be a little more smoother than usual for me. A good but slight improvement EA made so far.
The computer AI seems a little smarter in Fifa 08, if not EA practically just up their difficulty level. I read through some problems on how the semi-pro was already posing a difficulty for some of the players but that should not be much of a problem. The much hyped new AI system whereby the computer will adapted accordingly with the player’s user style (you love crossing? Their defenders will slowly mark you at the wings) is not much realized. If it actually is, I do not really feel it at all. For me, it was still the same AI as in Fifa 07, just harder not smarter.
Nothing new in the camera settings. I will talk about the be-a-pro view in a separate section alone.
Finally, it is time to talk about the mode that made me go crazy and all hyped up about Fifa 08. The chance for you to play as a single player and carve your own career out in the globalized world with already many fantastic players (Ronaldinho, C.Ronaldo etc). The video clips were simply fantastic. How the camera zooms in on you once you get the ball simply makes you go excited. Upon entering the Be-A-Pro mode at the menu screens, you can choose the player you want to play as or simply create a new player. Then you choose the team that you want to play in and off you go. The main screen for be-a-pro lets you check your team’s formation etc (giving you partial manager rights), check your own statistics etc. You are also able to add the different stats points into the various abilities you have according to your position you are playing as. If you are a striker you can add on to your running, shooting etc and if you are a defender you can add on to your tackling skills etc. Experience points is gain after every match depending on how well you perform. The whole screen and concept is very basic but I guess it is sufficient as a stepping stone to further improvement in this completely new feature in Fifa Soccer games in future. All of that said ought to get you really excited eh? However, what you are going to read now is going to disappoint you greatly. I hope you did not hope for too much as like the saying when the hope is greater, greater come the disappointment. And I suffer from that, I simply hope too much and now I am utterly disappointed.
In the PC version, there is a be-a-pro camera that you can select from. I can sum it up for you with one word, it is “tele” camera, just renamed. Disgusted I am when I saw that. Where is the much exciting camera whereby it zooms into your player etc? Oh boy after clarifying with others I found out that there were only such a camera mode in the next-gen versions, not the PC. With that gone, be-a-pro basically becomes the single player mode you can choose in Fifa Manager 07.
It is practically the same as normal matches but just that you control one player only and you can call for either a high ball, through ball, or a direct pass. Before every match, you are to fulfill certain objectives your manager wants you to do. If succeeded, you will have better match ratings and experience points. With that, you will find yourself in the pitch ready to start off your match. When you are not controlling your defense, it is rather frustrating as it takes some time before your own computer controlled defense (if you are playing as a striker) gets the ball from the opponent. Yes, your AI controlled defense is sometimes rather stupid. There is no indicator when you make a good pass etc, extremely different from the trailers provided. Then after every match, you gain experience points according to your performance. What, you were expecting more? Sad to say that is all. Get Fifa Manager 07 and you get what I mean.
All sports game last a long time. If you loved Fifa 07, you will like Fifa 08. If you have next-gen consoles, buy the fifa versions for them. Do not ever get it for PC if you have the choice. However, if you are like me, yet to have any next-gen consoles and really love soccer games (or is the hardcore EA supporter) grab a copy and just do not expect much. Fifa 08 will provide you with as much fun hours as Fifa 07 can provide. However, if you are a PES fan who wants to try Fifa 08, just try the next-gen console versions (if you have the ability and options to of course) but never try the PC version. It is simply horrible. Just a word to all PC Fifa players out there, try the PES version and you might be amazed. Since it is a direct port over from the next-gen consoles, the graphics etc ought to be fantastic and that what you see in the trailers they provided will be also for the PC version. Unlike Fifa 08 whereby the trailers are for just the next-gen consoles.
*I actually felt that they should specify the trailers for which platform. The three categories should be the Wii version, Xbox360 and PS3 version and lastly the PC version. That ought to clear much disappointment as people hope less. (They get disappointed once they see the videos already)