Itâ€™s another year and hereâ€™s another FIFA title. Wait, isnâ€™t this already the second or third FIFA title this year? Well as many incarnations of the FIFA series as there may be, this one certainly stands out and should be taken notice of. Keep reading to find out why.
Lets start at the beginning. No console is complete without its football games, and the Xbox 360 is no exception. EA were first to get the sport up and running on the next generation console with 2005â€™s FIFA Road to the World Cup, a football title which was nothing short of dismal. The promising follow up, FIFA World Cup 2006, seemed to raise the bar slightly. Slightly being the key word. Despite the two attempts from EA, it was clear to see that the Xbox 360 hadnâ€™t yet obtained a truly likeable football game. EA have often lured gamers into their sports titles with their finely polished visuals and attractive presentation. Unfortunately the cover doesnâ€™t tell the full story. Where FIFA titles have always been pleasing on the eye, theyâ€™ve very rarely played as well as they look. Not to be deterred, EA are at it again and FIFA 07 is now upon us.
As the old clichĂ© goes, itâ€™s third time lucky. EA have certainly proved this to be true as FIFA 07 stands out head, shoulders, shorts and even boots above their previous attempts. Whilst holding true to their presentation standards, FIFA 07 is clearly the best looking football game on the Xbox 360 (yep, thatâ€™s including PES 6). Fortunately itâ€™s not all glamour, whatâ€™s underneath FIFA 07â€™s fantastic visuals and wonderful presentation is very, very solid game play. Yes, you read it right, FIFA and solid game play in the same sentence.
With the Pro Evolution Soccer series leading the way in football game play it was clear that EA had to focus significantly on this area. All credit to EA, they have done and it clearly shows. From the moment you kick off in FIFA 07 youâ€™ll notice its sumptuous ball physics as the ball moves delightfully around the pitch colliding and reacting to all around it. On the rare occasion you may even rocket the ball against an opposing players face, just seeing it happen makes you think â€śouchâ€ť. With the ball able to bobble about freely, a goal mouth scramble can often occur and is a joy to partake in.
Ball physics arenâ€™t all thatâ€™s improved in FIFA 07 either, the whole game has been revamped or built from the ground up as EA refer to it. The game now feels so much smoother, the excellent player animations are as fluid as could be and helps make for a FIFA game faster and more enjoyable than any other. Donning a new refined control system, FIFA 07 feels a much better game to play. With a variety of moves and ways of attacking you find yourself trying something different each time.
The game delivers audibly too, its soundtrack, effects and commentary are all well refined. Although the commentary can occasionally fall behind the pace of your game itâ€™s diverse enough to be forgiven for doing so. The crowd chants are always a joy to hear for any football fan (providing theyâ€™re not from your rivals!) and the new PA audio is a welcome addition. Can the owner of the silver BMW please report to the car park?
Every FIFA game however isnâ€™t complete without its faults. Although FIFA 07 plays a much better game of football, it isnâ€™t yet quite on par with PES. Itâ€™s mighty close, but not quite perfected. The passing system isnâ€™t quite as precise as PES and the AI in FIFA 07 certainly doesnâ€™t live up to PESâ€™ standards. Trying to organise your defence can also prove to be a tricky experience in FIFA 07, slide tackling has been all but prohibited as youâ€™ll often find yourself seeing yellow, or even red whenever you slide in. As tends to be the case with EA titles, the Xbox Achievements system seems to have been overlooked once again. Although the game could clearly offer a whole host of various fun achievements it offers only 11, most of which are vague and appear to be nothing but an afterthought.
The most shocking downside to FIFA 07 is probably its lack of leagues. With the current gen versions of FIFA 07 offering a mighty 28 leagues, the Xbox 360 adaptation offers a measly 6. Add to that a mere 37 out of a possible 194 international teams and you have to start asking the question, why?
Although the missing leagues in my estimation are inexplicable, the game does feature a few little touches which help make up for it. Most notably the Live additions. Players with Xbox Live will get the most out of FIFA 07, its auto updating rosters being a key feature. Donâ€™t fear the transfer window this coming January, youâ€™ll no longer need to update all your rosters manually, EA will have it done for you. The News Ticker is another of FIFA 07â€™s great Live features, bringing the latest football news and scores from soccernet.com directly into your game is likely to please the majority of football fans, even more so when the news consists of their teams win.
Add to that a very solid online multiplayer mode. Online matches are played so smoothly that itâ€™s often easy to forget youâ€™re not playing someone sat alongside you. Going that one step further, the game will even log your online results and have them mailed directly to your personal inbox.
With its unmatched visuals, its superior soundtrack, its pleasant presentation and itâ€™s much improved game play, FIFA 07 is a welcome addition to the football genre. This is an Xbox 360 football title that comes highly recommended.
Final Score - 8 out of 10 (How do we rate games?)