FIFA 08 – PS3 – Preview

It’s all about
the timing. Hold down L2 and then move the right thumbstick to the left and then
to the right. If you nail the timing, the ball will arc up from behind you and
land in front. It’s called a rainbow and pulling it off in FIFA 08 is almost as
tough as doing it on a real soccer pitch.

FIFA 08 is
gearing up for release in mid October and the good folks at EA Sports sent along
a preview build so GameZone could take a look.

First off, this
was a beta build of the program. As such, some of the features, which will be in
the final release, were missing. You know, like the ability to create a player
and then save that player and make him available for your favorite team. Sure,
you could create the player, but each time you left the creation zone, he
disappeared.

But this is
beta code for the PS3. There is the reasonable assumption that not everything is
going to be perfect. Take, for example, the way the game (by default) switches
players. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason for the way the AI switches
defensive players. You may have a player shoulder-to-shoulder with the
opposition, fighting for possession, and the next thing you know, the icon above
the defensive player (the team you are controlling) disappears and jumps to a
player 10 yards in front of the attacker.


But there is
still a lot to love about FIFA 08 from EA Sports. The game animations, and
goalie AI in particular, are outstanding. The players almost move like their
real-life counterparts. And there is a wealth of leagues to choose from when you
get into manager mode.

The manager
mode is, like most EA Sports titles, deep and will have you working hard to stay
ahead of the curve that is the rest of the league. From player contracts to
sponsorships, you will have your hands full.

Most of the
major leagues are represented from around the world. You can go into England,
Czechoslovakia, Brazil or stay at home with the MLS in the United States (this
is actually the first time David Beckham has consistently played as a member of
the L.A. Galaxy). The game schedules are deep and there are goals to accomplish
along the way – much like in every other manager mode EA Sports releases.


When it comes
to the control scheme, expect a bit of a learning curve. Also think about
turning off the AI-assisted scheme. This is a pain to use and you will likely
have better results in passing the ball yourself. The game features ‘building
block’ skill progression. There are base skills and once you execute them you
will find yourself able to build off those to do skill moves like step-overs.
The system is completely organic, meaning that it emulates real life, rather
than follow a set progression.

The left
trigger and right analog thumbstick work in concert to have you pull off moves.
It is not that hard to do and you will be pulling off some sweet moves in no
time.

At this stage
in the development, though, the game does have a few stumbles. The faces are hit
and miss, but the stadiums are amazing and done well. The interface is easy to
navigate and EA Sports has done a nice little bit with the load screen. Instead
of watching a bar fill, you are treated to practice with the cover athlete. You
can work on dribbling moves and shooting in a one-on-one breakaway attempt
against a goal keeper.

The
music is EA Trax (50 artists representing 27 countries) and it works in this
instance. But the music and crowd sounds are a poor second to the great
play-by-play.

Of course, what
would the game be without league depth, and FIFA 08 has that. There are 576
licensed teams, 30 official leagues and more than 15,000 players. Additionally,
there are 60 tournaments available and players can participate in 35 licensed
ones or create their own.

The game will
have full online support, including the ability to upload videos of your
favorite goals.  

FIFA 08 is,
graphically, one of the more spectacular console games to come focusing on the
sport of soccer. This is a truly entertaining game that emulates the sport well
and should be one that every soccer gamer looks forward to seeing in a month.