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Throughout the past few years Pro Evo and FIFA have had a constant power struggle for the title of 'Best Football Game', with Pro Evo usually coming out trumps with their somehow smoother (if not as accurate) graphics and easy style of playing. However, FIFA have just made a very good attempt at maybe finally topping the tables and receiving their strived-for title.
I must confess I didn't expect very much from this game, and not very much was certainly delivered in my first few minutes of playing. Lots of football logos and the EA man speaking far lower than his voice would ordinarily allow him, telling me it's in the game.
The first challenge was not anything to do with football, but simply reading the text on screen telling me what to do. Unless you have 20:20 vision and a screen that takes up the entire wall you will find yourself squinting at a normal 21" SD (Standard Definition) TV. In the end I gave up and sat six inches from the screen. Doubtless this will get many a young child told they will get square eyes.
Nothing is quite as funny as laughing at your friends getting so frustrated by not knowing how to tackle.
I was a bit annoyed when the game asked for a special EA log in. Why could they not just be clever and use the Xbox Live one? Another ill fated attempt at world domination from EA. Secondly, to add to my annoyance, to play in any leagues it then asked you to pay for it! They supply you with one free code with every game, but after that they are not only content with you having forked out on their game, but make you purchase further goodies online. In the end I relented, and simply played a friendly match to test the game play itself.
To start off with, I wouldn't even bother with the beginner option, I (who have not played a football game in about six years) managed to get six of my players sent off within the first two minutes, and still comfortably beat Chelsea with Fulham 6-1. They seemed loathed to tackle me unless I physically ran into them with the ball (which I did several times, getting very confused as to what the heck the controls did, but I think that was simply my incompetence). Running the ball around everyone, with no hint of passing, and then almost dribbling the ball into the net was surprisingly effective.
Of course, it was a little more relaisted on medium, and, as my friend put it, 'Flippin' nails' on expert. What seemed to change most was not the skill of the other team, but the level of running and goalkeeping from your own team-mates.
The controls were fairly bog-standard for a footballing game, with no surprises, apart from the fact that the style and direction of where you were shooting/passing seemed to have a mind of its own. I'm sure more able gamers than me will tell me differently, but as an average person I did find fairly necessary things like tackling without crippling a member of the other team to be nigh on impossible.
There's a nice amount of realism in the players themselves, each one clearly recognisable as who they were meant to be. And also on a geeky note: the feeling of substance to the body's of each players was really quite good - a huge improvement on the last FIFA, with much more realistic running and jumping around. The commentators had a relatively large amount of things to say, which meant you could play for at least an hour before wishing to put an axe through the TV for telling you 'that's a terrible miss, he really shouldn't have missed from that range now, should he John?'. Oh, and also the referee even occasionally made mistakes, which the commentators then discussed in detail, which was a nice (if aggravating) change to the usual computer-perfect accuracy.
By far the high point for me and my mates was the multiplayer - fantastic! Nothing is quite as funny as laughing at your friends getting so frustrated by not knowing how to tackle (which is, by the way, impossible) and then the other friend on their team (as it is fantastically a four player game) strangle the other for getting all of their players sent off. Genuinely, this game was a lot of fun, particularly when played in company. Clearly the lack of controllability was made all the more fun when no-one knows what's going on.
It's a good laugh, and it cheered up a few hours.
I think those who would benefit most from this game are people who really, really, really like the real thing, love their teams, and are glued to the TV whenever a match is on. Mothers, do not buy this game for your sons if they are like that, you will never ever see them again.
If you are more relaxed about the real thing then you will still enjoy this game very much, and playing it with friends will win this game over for you. If you live with a couple of friends, in that case I do imagine this game could get rather well rated in your house.
This game was very good fun, I enjoyed it and its new features, but I wasn't stuck to it. It's a good laugh, and it cheered up a few hours, but as I say, unless you are a football nut, this isn't one of those must buy games.
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