By Philip Dunkley
Another year has come and gone, and in the world of Football Gaming, things have changed in the leader races. FIFA 08 was a great football game, and anyone who has followed my reviews will know that I am a huge fan. I also enjoyed the PES series, and always believed that both had their place. It was widely considered that the PES games were better â€œFootballâ€ games and not showpieces like the FIFA series, but last year, that scale was blurred, and Konami got things wrong and EA got things better, tipping the balance in FIFA08’s Favour.
So this week I get my copy of FIFA09 from EA, and putting the game in the 360 late at night, I found myself transformed and mesmerised for about 6 hours, purely because things have changed, quite a bit actually, and for one the first times in my gaming history, I felt like I was playing for my favourite team.
As everyone knows, we normally start with the story section, and generally in a sports game, this is none existent, and that is no different in the title, although you could use the â€œBe a Proâ€ mode, and create your own story.
Now let’s get to some of the changes that have taken place.
Firstly, when you fire up the game, you will be asked to set all your parameters, choose your team and control scheme etc. You will also get asked a new question this year. What league would you like to turn â€œLive Seasonâ€ on in? As I did not read any pre-release info on the game, as I generally don’t, and as a true gamer the manual was still neatly tucked into the front cover, I was rather surprised. I entered my code from the back of the manual, which gives you one free league, more can be purchased, and it downloaded the latest stats for all players from the league, based on their current form. This is something I’ve been waiting for since online started, and this has finally been done. Excellent.
Secondly, the graphics and crowds have been upgraded, not without its glitches, but it still looks better.
And thirdly, and the most important aspect of the game by far, is playability. Allow me to explain.
In previous games, be it PES or FIFA, players had a specific feel to them. They felt like any other playable character in most games. They were missing something, and the only way I can describe it is Density. Whenever you ran with a player, and suddenly did and about turn or 90 degree cut in, the player would seamlessly dart in the direction required, with hardly any loss to speed or ground. This year, FIFA has slowed things down. Players have a form of weight now, and any change in a direction results in the player slowing down, and he would in real life. Now every move or run you make needs thought, and if you don’t play as a team, forget any chance of putting the ball in the back of the net. Team play has become the number one factor, but when you pull it off, damn it feels sweet. I recently had a long chat with South African rugby player, whose name I’ll leave out, and he gave me one word that encompasses the feeling when things go right. That word was â€œWorthâ€, and it’s the best word I can use to describe the gameplay of FIFA09.
No more one style of play and run directly at the goalkeeper and score. Oh no, it’s got better than that, players are stacked up, and yes you may be able to pull off an almighty cool trick, but don’t expect to dart off like you used to, it’s a thinking man’s game, and that makes me smile.
The modes have remained similar, now with a four season â€œBe a Proâ€ Mode, and the usual season modes as well. The menu system still does not feel right to me, and although this may sound crazy, but I keep getting lost in them. Not a train smash, but could be a bit more user friendly.
The online play this year has the addition of 10 vs 10, and this comes off okay axcept for one thing, unless you are playing with a group of mates who know exactly how to play the game of football, it’s a real blend of chaos, with even defending players trying to run up and take a goal. There is no style of play, and it’s basically a free for all. I did experience quite a bit of lag as well, but hey this is SA. The rest of the online modes feel good, and seem somewhat more stable than last year.
The graphics look great again this year, with some character models looking as realistic as hell, but other leave a lot to be desired. It’s not that the character models are bad, just completely wrong in some cases, and don’t look a thing like the real player. Something that looks like it will never go away.
The audio is the same as always, with crowd sounds coming through well, and our favourite commentators back in action. They also seem to correct any mistakes when talking a lot quicker this year. The music tracks are great as well, with the overall theme being apt to the game.
FIFA09 is a great game, and I found myself losing time more and more as I carried on playing, and the quality just got better and better as I noticed more things within the game. EA seem to putting some good code together this year, and I hope this trend continues. This is the best game of the series, and to any football fan, an instant purchase. Konami, I wait with baited breath to see what you will do.
Gameplay: 9/10 [Very accurate and rewarding] Presentation: 9/10 [Looks great again this year] Sound: 8/10 [Good sound, consistent] Value: 10/10 [Purely for the amount of content here, and the fact that Live Season has been added]
Last Updated: October 7, 2008