FIFA 07 - PS2 - Preview

EA is gearing up for another FIFA season (which, if you've been keeping track, has been every few months this year). FIFA 07, the official update in the long-running series, is just days away from its September 26th release.

Should you be excited? That all depends. Do you like soccer? Were you enthralled in last year's game? If yes, then you qualify FIFA 07 interest.

If not, then let me ask you to stop being an ostrich and get your head out of the ground. Like NHL 07 and Madden 07 before that, FIFA 07 is shaping up to be another can't-miss sports game.

 

Surely the in-game graphics and new gameplay features are what everyone is looking for. But before you'll experience what the new game has to offer, the fancy, almost DVD-like menu setup will catch your attention. It's very rich and dynamic. Transparent text with colorful images of the game underneath.

No one's going to walk away from the game saying, "This was the best soccer title ever! Just look at those menus!" But as gaming becomes more next-gen, it's nice to see developers moving into a more immersive game setup, even if it's something as seemingly trivial as menu screens – and even if we're still using the previous generation of game consoles.

FIFA 07's claim to fame could be a tie between new mechanics and an online league system that enables fans to unofficially cheer for their club. You "cheer" by logging in and playing whenever the real players are going to play. Titled the Interactive Leagues, this system is supposed to be based on the real-world soccer schedule. Thus, you can check your local listings – or your club's Web site – whenever you need to know when they're playing so that you can get in on the game as well.

New shooting mechanics mean more options for the player, but fewer options for the Dual-Shock 2 controller. You'll be holding down more face and shoulder buttons (an action most gamers are hopefully used to doing by now). Finesse and Chip shots are an interesting bunch. The latter lets you lift your shot over the goalkeeper and into an open goal. You'll need a lot of practice to get the move just right.

 

Those in search of accuracy need to go with a Finesse shot (L2 + square button). Perform it correctly and you might score an unblockable shot that'll make the goalie wish he had taken a desk job like his mommy wanted.

Long ground passing also seems to have been tweaked, but I haven't noticed a difference in the short passing.

Fans of the Dynasty mode will be intrigued by the new visual simulation, a feature that allows you to simulate games with a bit more interactive depth. Instead of just sitting by as the games happen automatically, the visualized sim gives you the details of what's happening in text form. You're also able to step in, make some quick player changes, and hopefully prevent a bad game from being a total failure. If not, then maybe simulated games aren't for you.

But that's not what the game is about anyway. It's the gameplay during the Dynasty and other modes that matters. If you liked last year's game, you'll have good feelings for this one as well. The handling physics are noticeably different from the start. Not to the point where you'll think you're playing a different game (it still feels a lot like FIFA 06, initially at least). But you'll be able to feel how the developers have made the ball seem more – I don't want to say airy, but it definitely feels like less of a rock. It wasn't stagnant before or anything like that, just more stable. Now it's stable, yet looser than before.

 

All things likely, everyone in the world (including Will Ferrell) will be kicking and screaming for more when FIFA 07 hits store shelves. Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring our full review of the game in the coming week.

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