Regardless of these issues, it must be stressed that FIFA 08 still plays a great game of football. Moreover, it’s a distinctly different kind of game to that provided by Pro Evolution. This is no bad thing, and it’s a point enhanced by the plethora of game modes and options at your disposal.
As ever, FIFA 08’s main strength is purely the number of leagues and teams available to play as. Thus, if you’re a die-hard Leyton Orient fan, you can take control of them in the league and propel them to the heights of the Premier league. Simple it may be, but sometimes the simpler things in life are indefinably brilliant. However, if just playing through the leagues isn’t to your liking, there’s plenty more to get on with. For those with a creative bent, there’s a new tournament creation mode. This allows you to create your own competition, using different formats. This is quite a nice addition, especially for creating custom leagues to play with friends over an evening.
There’s also an extensive single-player challenge mode, with a bucket load of slightly contrived challenges stretching across several regions. These challenges vary in difficulty, while each challenge requires you to fulfil certain objectives, such as scoring x amount of goals, maintaining a certain level of possession or even scoring with one particular player. In this instance the game switches to a camera angle that looks down the pitch, with you controlling solely the player that’s subject to your challenge.
This is part of one of the new features: Be A Pro. Now, knowing FIFA’s history you’d be forgiven for thinking this to be some kind of new gimmick, and in one sense you may be right. However, it’s an idea that has great potential, albeit potential that has yet to be harnessed in FIFA 08. Part of this includes a rather natty training system, which allows you to select one player and learn their position. You can call for passes, crosses and through balls and instruct other players to shoot, with you being rated all the time based on your success at staying in position and doing your job.
It’s a truly interesting system, bringing into stark relief the annoyance when a team mate loses possession when you’re in a good position, or wasting an opportunity you created. Regrettably, this new idea is limited to the fun but brief training mode and the occasional dalliance as part of a challenge. It feels rather like a return to some bad old habits, which is a shame since it’s a rather interesting angle that has some real potential. Hopefully EA will see fit to develop it further in next year’s instalment.