FIFA 08 Review

I have to admit, I am at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to soccer. I’ve watched the matches on television, talked to people who are fans of the sport and have even played my fair share of soccer video games. This casual association with soccer has made me the resident "expert" around here. But I confess, even with this knowledge, I pale in comparison to real followers of the sport.

But in any case, a fun game is a fun game and it’s pretty easy to figure out if a game is or isn’t, regardless of whether you’re a diehard fan of a particular genre. At least, that’s the theory Brendon told me.

The first thing that I noticed in FIFA 08 was the realism and wide range of game modes that are available. Are you the type who wants a quick match without all the intricacies of team management, arranging player positions and strategy? You’ve come to the right place by selecting the Kickoff mode. Here, you can get right into the thick of things by selecting your teams and immediately going into game play.

This mode is just fine for those who aren’t that familiar with the sport or for people who want some quick gratification. The periods can be adjusted in duration and if you’re in a bind for time, you won’t have to play through a full 90 minutes.



At one point during Kickoff mode, the game froze when I tried to restart a match. The game took me to the interactive loading screen where you can practice kicking goals, but the loading screen somehow got frozen in a loop and couldn’t reset itself. I had to restart my machine to get out of it.

For the dedicated football (soccer) fan, you’ll have at your disposal the modes of tournament, manager, FIFA lounge, and one of my favorites, the challenge mode, where you are given assignments and tasks to complete. If you love tournaments, you’ll have your hands full with 60 of them with 35 officially licensed ones, or the option to even create your own.

In addition, you can enter the "Be a Pro Offline Training," where you play as an individual player and follow "orders" by means of on-screen prompts. This is a nice idea, but it doesn’t mean a lot of action, necessarily, as you’ll be trying to just keep your position relative to the other members.

This was disappointing to me as a newbie in soccer, because I would have liked to see a more basic training mode that could explain the ins and outs of soccer instead of just mechanically trying to fulfill certain player attributes. At the end of these sessions, you’ll be "graded" on your performance. You’ll be able to accumulate points, cards and other bonus items in the "lounge" area of the game, and these can be used to upgrade the abilities of your players.



Although not really a part of the game, the manual for FIFA 08 was pretty lacking by anyone’s standards. There are quick paragraphs that just touch on the game’s depth but nothing really helpful if you really need to know how to use the various game features

The gameplay is good — you constantly jockey for position and try to break away for a shot at the goal. Passing is imperative and a certain amount of thinking ahead is crucial to outmaneuvering your opponents by constantly being aware of where all your teammates are on the field. My thumbs and fingers had a pretty good workout as I tried to break though the defensive players by doing special moves and sprinting towards the goal. Those of you who like special moves will enjoy the nuances of the various button combos you’ll use to give you that extra edge in your matches.

Sometimes, the AI in video games plays and reacts stiffly. In the back of your mind, you know that it’s you against the machine. The AI doesn’t really react like a real live player would. Given enough time, you can usually pick away at the AI of these games.



Not so with FIFA 08. The AI sports a 35 point decision engine and this gives the AI characters 1,000 potential choices of action per second based upon what you do at any particular moment in the game. For you math wiz kids, that’s an astounding 60,000 unique decisions the AI is making per minute. Well heck, no wonder the game plays as if a human was at the other end. There are no easy goals here; you’ll have to really play your best to get those precious scores.

All the AI characters, whether they are on the defensive or offensive, react intelligently and really make the game feel like a live online match. Speaking of online, you can choose ranked matches or unranked matches and participate in leagues too to represent your team. Since I was a noob with FIFA 08, I expected to be totally demoralized by the more talented and knowledgeable players. But surprisingly, I held my own quite well…until the second period.

Somehow, I had managed to put on a good defensive showing by hounding my adversary mercilessly, but my online opponent finally figured this out and proceeded to take long passing shots to break my defense and I eventually lost the match. But one thing is for sure: it was really fun and I wanted more. No doubt, if you exhaust all the offline modes in this game, the online matches will keep you entertained for quite a while.



The graphics in this game run at a steady 60fps and they look really nice. The replay feature of the game looks as if it was taken directly from the Madden school of replay and works well. When you are playing in certain modes such as challenge and pro, the camera takes on the perspective of an over-the-shoulder look. The effect is nice and draws you right down on the field where all the action is. The soccer stadiums look nice and the players look realistic and are entertaining to watch when they snarl at getting a yellow or red card. Overall, the game looks good.

The soccer commentators don’t barge in too much with their description of the game action and do a nice job. An added unexpected bonus is the music that is in the game. When you’re navigating through the menus or doing a lengthy manager session, the tunes going on in the background are quite good and don’t sound like the usual (and horrible) canned music that some sports games revert to.

FIFA 08 is a fun title, whether you’re a soccer fanatic or the casual bystander that sees an occasional soccer match on television. If you’re looking for an entertaining sports game outside of your usual baseball, football and basketball, you might be surprised at how much fun this game can be. If you follow soccer closely and like soccer games, FIFA 08 will be a must buy for you.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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