Published Nov 21, 2007EA Sports policy of delivering annual versions of games means that some years are better than others. Of course, it doesnt help in the case of the FIFA series that there are many additional games added for such events as the World Cup and the Champions League, and so the already cluttered shelves are overwhelmed with soccer titles. Fortunately, FIFA 08 is not only one of the good years, it is actually one of the pivotal entries that helps to redefine the entire series.
Almost all the problems with earlier versions of the game on the Xbox 360 have been taken care of: the graphics are wonderful, with an incredible amount of detail, particularly in the animation, and the overall presentation is very nice indeed. The series has finally found the acceptable patch of middle ground between simulation and arcade game where it isnt too easy to knock the ball around the pitch but getting the ball into the back of the net is still a challenge. Still, dont expect any exceptionally high scoring games because while it isnt quite as hard as last years version, this is a very tough game that will take some time to master.
The biggest new addition, "Be A Pro mode, will seem like a surreal way to play at the beginning simply because controlling a single player for the entire duration of a game translates into a lot of down time and waiting for the action to reach you. That is especially true when playing a defender, although midfielders and attackers are a more satisfying option simply because you can control the games destiny to a greater extent. It also brings with it a new camera angle, which is very similar to the third person view in Gears Of War or Rainbow Six. It can be a little disconcerting to begin with but becomes a surprisingly satisfying way to immerse the player into the midst of the action.
"Be A Pro mode also hints at what might lie ahead for the online game because at the moment, five-on-five games are available, with the idea that eventually, 22 different players will be able to take place in one single game, something that is one of the most exciting prospects for Xbox Live in a long, long time.
With a good selection of other modes on offer (such as "Challenge and "Manager, in addition to the usual suspects) and easily accessible skill controls for special moves, there is very little to complain about with FIFA 08. It takes a perfectly balanced approach to the game, warts and all, and it finally feels like EA Sports understands how a soccer game should play, right down to the ball physics and the responses by your team-mates. It seems unlikely that well see this kind of major leap forward in the next few years, so proceed with confidence. (EA Sports)