Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


FIFA Soccer 08 (Playstation 3)

EA's long running soccer franchise has had its ups and downs over the years, but this year's FIFA Soccer 08 for the Playstation 3 is one of the best installments to date. Featuring an expanded roster of teams and players, several innovative play modes and extensive online support, the game offers plenty of depth and replay value. On the field, FIFA 08's intuitive controls allow for better ball handling with improved passing and dribbling functions. The improved AI makes things more realistic, while the pacing of each match has been improved as well. Visually, the game is impressive with realistic character models, smooth animation and a consistent frame rate. FIFA 08 is a solid, challenging and deep soccer sim that shows the series has finally delivered a truly next generation experience.

FIFA Soccer 08 is probably the deepest and most innovative game in the franchise in quite some time. It delivers an incredible array of features and game modes that bring it back to the forefront of soccer simulators. Almost every element and portion of the game has been improved since last year's installment. Some of these changes are subtle enhancements, while others offer a dramatic improvement over previous next-gen iterations. The most immediately noticeable change is the size of its roster. While last year's FIFA title offered a relaticely small selection of teams, FIFA 08 makes up for this with a huge selection of leagues, teams and players. The game offers more than 30 licensed leagues, over 300 teams, and literally thousands of real-life players in addition to real stadiums. The roster includes all the biggest European leagues and clubs including all the big players names from professional soccer present, the game is probably the deepest and most authentic in the series to date. You'll find everyone from Beckham to Ronaldo in the game, along with all the big clubs such as Manchester, Chelsea, Juventus, AC Milan and literally hundreds more. This just scratches the surface but American players will be happy to know that the game finally includes all the MLS teams, which were sorely lacking last year. Players will can also select from all the International teams as well. Suffice it to say, there's plenty of depth this time around, which should please fans worldwide. This definitely makes FIFA Soccer 08 feel more authentic this year, and its extensive lineup gives you almost limitless options when selecting who to play as.

Its an impressive selection of teams, but the game really shines once you get on the field and play. The controls are similar to last year's editions, but have been refined in some key areas. Passing the ball is a bit easier now, which makes your moves more effective. Players will also find that the auto-switching has been improved on the field as well. Performing special moves has been simplified and you only need to use the right analog stick to trap the ball, pass to another defender or make a through pass. Kicking and shooting is still a little bit dicey, but your shots feel a bit more accurate this time around. FIFA Soccer 08's pacing has been changed a little, it feels less arcadey this time around, which makes for a more strategic game that more accurately mimics the pacing and style of a professional soccer match. The controls and interface are very easy to understand and use, though there are a few new twists. For example, by holding down on the shift button in some of the modes, the viewpoint switches to a close-in look at the player under your command. While this is cool to look at, it's kind of distracting in practice, and can be annoying. The game's AI has been improved as well which works both for and against the player. 

While your opponents are smarter now, your own team-mates have been improved as well, making them appear in the right position more often. This makes the gameplay in FIFA 08 feel much smoother than in last year's edition, improving the overall feel dramatically.  As you might expect, FIFA Soccer 08 includes an extensive selection modes such as single match, tournament, and league modes. You can also go behind the scenes in the game's Manager mode, where you can decide which players to sign, trade or sell players and adjust your teams financial strategy. It's a fairly decent addition this time around. You can also choose to create and use a player in the game and build up their stats, which is another superb addition to the series. All of these appeared in last year's installments, so their return isn't that surprising. However, EA has gone and added another interesting addition this year. The most innovative feature of FIFA 08 is the new Be-a-Pro mode. This allows you to take the role of a single player during a match, concentrating on their position instead of playing as the full team. This is an exciting and challenging idea that's been nicely implemented and takes the player directly onto the pitch. You begin by selecting your team and player, then move onto the field where you have to stay on the position you're playing throughout the match. You are ranked throughout and gain points for successful passes, interceptions and other moves. However, you are marked down of you leave position; your ranking will decline, so you have to stay within formation most of the time.

You also lose points when your player performs a bad tackle or a pass is blocked. It sounds fairly dull, but you actually have a lot to think about as you focus on your position. Instead of switching around from player to player, you instead control one player throughout the match. As you play through this unique mode, you don't have to just sit there and wait for something to happen, you can call other players to pass the ball, assist other players and mark rivals using the face buttons to issuer commands. When you play on offense, your goal is to get the ball forward on the field, mark your territory and make sure your opponents don't take the ball away from you. On defense, you switch roles and as a defender, you have to cover your area, intercept your opponent and tackle any strikers who get into your path. This unique system is very well implemented with an intuitive command system and approach. The system is context sensitive, which makes things easier. For example, if you're attacking, and you want to pass the ball to another player and make them shoot you only need to press the circle button. Holding down the circle button on defense calls a second defender to your position. This is definitely a change of pace from previous FIFA titles and helps to immerse players into the action in an innovative way. Further adding to the immersion is the presentation, with your player constantly marked throughout, which helps you look at the big picture. When the ball comes close to you, the camera zooms in and allows you to focus on your player's action with an effective on-the-field viewpoint that's really cool and impressive. This is definitely the most innovative of FIFA Soccer 08's new modes, but by no means is it the only impressive feature in the game

The new be-a-pro mode is quite impressive in its own right, but FIFA Soccer 08 also includes an extensive online system where you can play in a variety of modes, update your team's stats and rosters, download the latest international soccer news and even listen to podcasts. Most of the modes are included in the main game, including single matches, tournaments plus you can even use the Be-A-Pro mode and have up to 4 players online on your side at the same time. This is an impressive technical achievement and makes the game even more immersive online. The game plays just as smoothly online and doesn't suffer any of the lag or drop-outs you've come to expect. While the news is somewhat bland all text, the addition of international pod-casts gives FIFA Soccer 08's online experience a global community feel that's quite impressive in its own right. Between this and the extensive roster of licensed teams and players, the game offers one of the most immersive and impressive sports experiences yet on the PS3, making for a far more robust and much deeper experience than last year's installments. This is truly a next-generation sports title and one that fully uses the online component in new and innovative ways. The game's presentation is likewise smooth and polished with an easy to navigate menu system wrapped around an arena, where you can practice your moves one-on-one against a goalkeeper in first person mode. You can select from different players in this mode as well, and this is a good measuring tool that shows the improvements EA has made to FIFA's graphics engine.

As you can tell from the screenshots, the game looks fantastic from all angles. The in-game visuals are solid and perform at a smooth and consistent frame rate throughout. FIFA Soccer 08 offers multiple viewpoints including side-to-side, television and dynamic camera angles. All of these angles offer a good overview of the action, but where the game really impresses and shows off its true next-gen colors is in its close-up viewpoints. When the action breaks for a replay, players are treated to some truly impressive character models with excellent facial expressions and character animations that are nearly life-like. There are a few glitches, such as the players' jerseys which seem to pop in and out oddly from one texture map to another, which is distracting, but the level of detail is otherwise impressive. As stated earlier, the most impressive viewpoint is the be-a-pro view, where the camera zooms into a behind the player, on the pitch mode which helps to put you right on the field. Overall, the game's slick appearance and high-def graphics engine truly take advantage of next-gen technology and make FIFA Soccer 08 one of the best looking sports titles on the PS3 to date.

Between these slick visuals, its abundance of game modes and the refined and intuitive gameplay mechanics, FIFA Soccer 08 is the best in the franchise to date. EA has squeezed a ton of features and options into the game, and everything has been polished. The gameplay is much smoother and more intuitive in the standard modes. The controls are easy to understand, with better player and CPU AI making for a more challenging and realistic title. Its innovative Be-a-Pro mode offers a unique way to play the game, and marks a new level of immersion into the game. Its extensive online modes offer a deeper sense of community with extensive modes, online tournaments and other features such as pod-casts and more. FIFA Soccer 08's impressive features offer plenty of variety, the extensive licensing gives the game authenticity, while its excellent controls and interface make for a smooth playing experience overall. All this adds up to create what is easily the best next-gen soccer title EA has produced yet, making this a must-own for any soccer fan.

- Michael Palisano


Related Reviews

FIFA 07 (Xbox 360)
Winning Eleven 2007 (Xbox 360)