FIFA 09 Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Comparing FIFA 09 to last years update, as well as Euro 2008, you’ll now see that there’s a little referee running on the pitch, and even the men with the flags are visible. You may be prepared for me to say that these cosmetic fingernail sized improvements are FIFA 09’s only noteworthy differences over 08 and Euro 2008, although this is as far from the truth as that badly bungled shot of mine was from getting intimate with the net yesterday.

It’s the little things that many of us will notice first: Players point in the positions that they are set to run and signal for offsides, you can bounce the ball off the now visible referee (just thought you’d like to know, as it adds so much to the game) and when the ball is still very much on the move, said official will let the game continue, before pulling it back to wave cards (which come in variations of ravishing red and the more mellow colour of yellow) in the faces of dirty tacklers.

More impressive are the new animations which somehow makes things look even more natural, certainly having a good say in FIFA’s most obvious bid at becoming the most realistic football game in the world today. The physicality of the sport has also been captured extremely well, with players jostling realistically, tumbling painfully following a tackle, and when rising for the header (which looks more convincing in itself), the player who comes worst off is often the smaller and skinnier one.

In fact not only does FIFA want to be realistic it actually wants to emulate the modern game by mirroring weekly player form with that of their real life and overpaid counterparts. The Adidas Live Season is the name of this new feature and as soon as you start the game for the very first time, you are able to select a free season long trial league (by entering the code on the back of your instruction manual) which will be affected by the weekly real life performances of all the players involved in that very league. There’s six leagues to choose from (the Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Primera Division Mex, Liga BBVA and Serie A), but after choosing your free one, additional leagues will cost you. It’s certainly a most unique idea, encouraging you to shift players around in accordance with how they are playing in the real world version/s of your selected league/s, every week.

Another new feature that will get the attention of budding football managers everywhere is the custom tactics option. This feature allows you to change a number of sliders (before and during matches) to get your team to play in exactly the manner that you desire, this includes everything from altering the speed and passing style of your build ups, the frequency that players will attempt to prepare themselves for shooting and crossing the ball, as well as defensive pressure and aggression, amongst other things. Combine this with the quick tactics (employed by using D-pad buttons), which allows you to quickly alter the mentality of your squad, and you have a really deep game for those who like role-playing as the god of their favourite football club, or any football club for that matter. Before blaming anyone else, just remember who is at fault when things start going pear shaped, oh and after all that finger pointing you could always change your tactics.

FIFA has been through some remarkable improvements in recent years and 09 continues to push forward with a more refined and responsive game of football. Things can still get pretty tight against a similarly skilled opponent, meaning that patient build-up play (or the occasional luck and waywardness of the ball) can often pay off for you. It’s quite simply the smoothest and most lifelike football game on gods green earth, and if there‘s a better game out there it must be under lock and key and protected by military guard somewhere.

As for options, since FIFA 06 we’ve had the Manager and Lounge modes, followed by Interactive Leagues in 07 and Be a Pro (basically a better Libero Grande) in last years release. Staying with Be a Pro, it’s now possible to play through four seasons as an individual of your choosing (any position but the keeper), or you could always create a nobody from scratch with the ultimate goal of becoming a somebody. It’s the latter that is the most satisfying as you begin your career in the lowly reserves of your chosen team, and as your player grows in talent, showing off your skills on the field will hopefully dazzle your manager enough to make him feel as if he’s got a gun to his head, such is the pressure that he’ll be feeling to call you up to the first team. One day you may even have the privilege of captaining both club and country, so keep impressing the people who matter most.

The Be a Pro mode was a later addition to FIFA 08, but this year it’s all ready and waiting for you, not only this but it can now be played in 10 vs. 10. Last years online Be a Pro mode was already excellent fun, although it’s even more impressive to have up to 20 outfield players, each controlled by an individual, out on the pitch. Playing quick matches does prove that there’s a lot of greedy people out there who shoot for glory, with little regard for playing as a well synched team. This is fine if you’re just playing for a bit of casual fun, but for those who are more serious about winning, it’s possible to create and name a club and then invite likeminded players to it. The FIFA 09 Clubs allows for up to 50 members to be a part of a team and there’s even leaderboards that tells the world the story of your success, or perhaps lack of. It’s also possible to be left red faced when you are relegated to lower divisions, although on the other hand you can also be promoted, just remember to keep it cool and don’t jump up and down like you‘ve won the premier league. FIFA 09 Clubs is yet another amazing addition to this years most playable footy game.

Adding to all the above praise, FIFA 09 looks fantastic in action and sounds as authentic as a football game should, with brilliant crowd noise as usual, alongside some fantastic and slightly tidied up commentary. I could continue heaping on the praise, although the only thing really left to say is that FIFA 09 is the best football game that I have ever got my hands on, whether it will be able to be toppled next year is up to both EA and Konami, although as EA now has an engine that is dangerously close to perfection, perhaps toppling it is out of the question.