FIFA 07 Xbox Review
Console Obsession has enjoyed previous FIFA games as much as any footy title churned out by the Konami talent over in Japan, but if painstaking realism is a requirement then most would choose Pro Evolution Soccer over FIFA for its more accurate ball physics and player stats. EA’s popular series is back again for inevitable chart success, retooled for another stab at stealing the status of peoples choice away from the much cherished PES series.
The latest edition of FIFA makes its intentions clear as soon as boot meets ball, this is a game that wants to be just as realistic as Pro Evolution Soccer, and the excellent physics system brings this closer to reality. Shots at goal look fabulous, and the ball now bobbles and bounces in a way which makes matches more unpredictable than ever before, always interacting with the players in a way that FIFA has never really achieved (you should check out the way the hand balls work with this new physics system!) . Whilst the physics in recent years weren’t anywhere near as laughable as Club Football’s they certainly are nothing when you compare them to what has been achieved in 07.
The passing movement may not be quite as convincing as PES’s weighty ball physics, but FIFA has certainly made a lot of ground up on its rival this year. In fact the whole visual package is simply outstanding, and Console Obsession have no qualms about calling this years FIFA a much better game than World Cup or FIFA 06 due to the overall improvements. The passion to emulate the sport is very much evident this time around, but there will be many that will sniff at the game regardless of its progress, which is both foolish and unfair.
The game is never dull as players move up and down the pitch realistically and the AI isn’t prone to leaving masses of space for opponents to run through (anyone remember FIFA 2000?). Patient play is often rewarded as you exploit weaknesses in a defence, and switching from defence to attack is possible in the blink of an eye with a few nicely strung together passes. It can be pretty tight if the game is played against an equivalently skilled player, but there’s never a dull moment to be had as simply watching the flowing beauty of the game, is something which is unlikely to ever grow old.
Goalkeepers now make some astonishing saves, and even a one-on-one confrontation between a striker and the man between the sticks doesn’t necessarily guarantee a goal, especially on the higher difficulty settings. This is another element, which makes the game all the more exciting and the keyword this year is definitely unpredictable.
The manager mode is pretty much the same as last year, but the player growth system is an interesting inclusion that adds a layer of depth to your managerial duties. Players now grow in experience after each match, and dipping into your youth team can result in you developing the next hot property in football, which is always a rather compelling prospect.
The interactive league is a clever idea, which sees football supporters trying their best to contribute to their clubs online success. Real world fixtures are replicated, and you can play your current club fixture as often as you’d like until the window closes, leaving EA to calculate all the wins, losses and draws to determine the results for the points table. Another neat idea is that to assure yourself a game that little bit quicker you can also choose to play against a rival of your club, which then puts you in control of another team in a rivals fixture. This means that the less supported clubs also get a chance to play a respectable amount of matches, and contributing to ruining a rivals results during a fixture is always going to offer immeasurable satisfaction. If you’d rather not involve yourself in league pressures then quick match and tournament options are also available. As of writing we have played over 40 online matches and this Xbox version is certainly smooth and stable in the online environment, although we have experienced occasional connection issues, in which we have been disconnected from our opponents. Regardless of this, the changes to the online mode are most welcome and it serves as a fantastic alternative to playing offline in the multiplayer lounge mode.
All said and done, FIFA 07 offers a real quality, physical and exciting game of footy, and EA should be applauded for always going the extra mile to make a difference. There’s no doubt in saying that this is the greatest FIFA ever, as it’s an absolutely fantastic recreation of the beautiful game, but it‘s also one of the greatest football games the world has ever seen.