FIFA 08 Next-Gen Preview - 23/08/2007

The FIFA series has had to fight a war against the Pro Evo ever since the original PES was released. Pro Evo has had the edge over its rivals for a few years now, but EA’s main aim this year was to finally level the playing field.

Firstly, EA have the usual batch of licensed players, brands and league names. This year we’ll get 30 leagues, 620 teams and about 15,000 players. All of which will have the correct names. Which is ALOT more than Pro Evolution can offer.

Secondly, they’ve added the following new features:

- The ‘Be A Pro’ mode which you’ll get more on later
- The new leagues, players, teams and stadiums
- Players specialities. Again, more Later.
- Dynamic ball physics
- And [I’d guess] much more stuff

- The ‘Be A Pro’ mode is a completely new thing in the Fifa franchise. In this mode you take control of one player, in third person, similar to the Gears Of War camera, where it zooms in and wobbles when you run, and slows down and steadies when not moving or going slowly. You can choose to be any position, or any player. So if you play left back [in the changing rooms] for your Sunday league team, then you can incorporate all your defensive experience into the matches on FIFA. This for me sounds great, and Electronic Arts hinted that it was a sort of training mode to get ready for full 11 Vs 11 online matches where each team has 11 real human players.

Imagine, you have clans on an FPS, guilds on an MMORPG and teams on a football game. ‘Team-battles’ would be great, each clan [or team] could enforce their own tactics, and the next time they play them, they’ll know that they should use the wings because their opposition play quite narrowly. EA said they were aiming for that to be the case come the 2010 World Cup in Africa. Come that day, I really think that FIFA will beat PES for sure.

Last year, when you were Cristiano Ronaldo you would try to use the thing that he’s good at. Silky skills. But although he was better at them than other players, he was never the best at them which is the case in real life. Same goes for Lampard and Gerrard, both are good at long shots, yet in FIFA 07 they were just as good as any other highly ranked player. This isn’t the case in 08. This time round the top players [that’s quite a lot of top players, not just 20 or 30] have their own unique abilities. For example when your Ronaldo you’ll be able to use step-overs with ease, and doing skills will be noticeably easier. Beckham will be great at free-kicks, Ronaldinho will be good at, well everything, and basically everybody will be more like their real life counterpart.

EA have promised that in this instalment the ball physics will be much more realistic. With the left and right feet giving different results, if the player is off balance he may slice it. If the ball just bobbled then he might scuff it, etc. All the things that determine if a shot will be good or not in real life are in FIFA. So no more shots on target from the half-way line.

Visually, FIFA will run at 60 fps [frames per second, not first person shooters] and the ball will be totally separate from the players. So you won’t have to wait for this half second of animation to finish before you shoot, it’ll shoot as soon as you press circle. But if you timed it wrong, thanks to the aforementioned ball physics, it won’t turn out as desired.

EA have released no information on how the manager mode and online will work as yet, except for an exciting next-gen 5v5 mode which you can read about here. But we do know that the interactive leagues will make their next-gen debut, after not appearing on the 360 version last year. So, when Manchester United play Everton in real life, you play as your favourite team [in this case Man United] and EA tallies up the amount of wins and losses. Eventually resulting in an overall winner.

One more thing, the ‘Be A Pro’ mode is not to be confused with the superstar mode on Madden. Both are completely different. Now I’ve got that off my chest, here’s my pre-verdict.

Pre-Verdict: It’s obvious FIFA will have more leagues, players and brands than PES. So if that’s all you want, you will have chosen FIFA over PES in the last few years. But if you're looking for a more realistic footy sim, then PES will have been your choice. Now thanks to the physics engine, it’s looking like you’ll have to look deeper to find out who’s gonna win the next-gen footy sim war.

And, for the record, TGSN will be giving you a full review come release.

- Tyler Roberts



EA Sports
EA Canada