September saw the release of the latest EA Sports Fifa release, the fifth game of its type already on the XBOX 360 (That's a lot of football games...).
First was Fifa 06, then game Fifa Road To Germany, next it was Fifa 07 and finally UEFA Champions League (which was basically a Fifa 07 tweak - a good tweak by the way).
So, Fifa 08 has arrived.
One of the biggest things EA have been plugging recently is the new "Be A Pro" mode of the game. In simple terms this allows you to be a player, rather than be a team. Currently only available in offline mode (An update is promised in team for christmas which will make this a fully online option). It's different, and whilst I don't feel it's as good as the conventional mode it does allow a completely different game. The default view whilst in this mode focuses on your player as you try and stay in position, play a killer pass or better still score a goal! Suddenly you find yourself screaming at the TV, PASS, PASS, PASS... then you find yourself one-on-one with the 'keeper only to blaze wide. It's fun, and a welcome new mode.
The classic game has itself undergone a lot of improvements, lots of new tournaments have been added (basically the leagues for all the nations covered by the game - which is a lot by the way, for the first time in a Fifa game you really can choose just about any team from anywhere in the world...).
The game is more difficult than the previous versions, but not unplayably so. Some of the controls have changed from previous versions which makes it a little more difficult to pick up and play - although after a couple of games it becomes second nature.
Fifa 08 sees the addition of many new "special moves" which really give you something to master. Don't even think about doing these until you've mastered the basic game - but once you have these moves really give the game a new dimension and for the first time ever give you total control over what you want the players to do, step-overs, flicks, it's all here.
One thing worthy of a mention is the 'Achievements', for the first time a Fifa game comes with GREAT achievements - helping you get into that feeling of "Just one more game...". Rather than the usual 10-15 different achievements as in previous games, which required you playing hundreds of matches this release sees a lot of different ones including many secret ones (one of which is to score a goal within the first 5 minutes - harder than it sounds!).
The graphics are what you'd expect from a Fifa game and are a slight improvement on '07. The sound and commentary (from Martin Tyler & Andy Gray) is superb.
I'd describe this game as (currently) the greatest Football game on any platform - it's got the magic playability, and more importantly you genuinely feel the tension when you're a goal behind as the match draws to a close.
Many people incorrectly compare this quite naturally to the Pro Evolution games. That isnt a fair comparision in my opinion, it's like comparing Forza Motorsport with Destruction Derby. They're different games. Nobody knows yet what Pro Evo 2008 will offer, but for now there really is only one football game for the XBOX 360.
See you online (my gamertag is the same as my Play ID).
Can't wait for the fully blown 'Be A Pro' to be launched - although I need a lot of practice before then!
There is one major flaw with the game though which EA need to fix ASAP with an update - Shevchenko is a good player, hopefully the next player update will resolve this :-)