FIFA 08 PSP Review - 24/10/2007

With FIFA’s next-gen debut proving to be a disappointment (for our full review click here), how does the yearly PSP update fair?

In answer to the question above, it fairs quite well actually. Last year's FIFA 07 was a triumph in handheld football games as it provided a solid experience that left football fans content. FIFA 08 picks up where 07 left off, in fact it picks up exactly there. Yes, the only gripe I have with this year’s PSP FIFA is that hardly anything has changed from last year. Although this might not necessarily be a bad thing as last year’s gameplay was indeed solid, it might be a bit off-putting for people expecting something new.

The gameplay in 08 is good, it’s not great, but for the handheld it works well. The buttons are incorporated for the loss of the L2, R2 and second analogue buttons perfectly. Passing and through balls are good and shots normally work, however crosses are a bit shoddy and it is difficult to put across a perfect one so that your attacker will latch on and score. No worries though as you’ll soon be playing just as good as you had in 07 as it's easy to remember and even easy for any newbie to the series to master. The graphics are still on the shoddy side with the players looking jagged from the game's camera angle and even though this problem is alleviated when zooming in on a player after a goal, the facial likenesses aren’t really anything to marvel out (although, to be honest, some of them may be superior to all the porcelain on show in the PS3 version). The stadia on the other hand look impressive on the small screen. The jewel in FIFA’s crown, being the licences, are all present and accounted for with many leagues and teams to choose from (albeit not as many as on the PS3 version, but there was no way that was going to happen was there).

Making a return from last year's incarnation are the juggling and wall smash mini games, as well as the challenge mode which provide a breath of fresh air in case you get bored of the normal game. A new mini game, one of the whopping two new things this year, in the form of an IQ quiz is present. In this you are presented with football orientated questions and given two options, pass or dribble. If you choose pass, you pass on that question and move on to the next, dribble allows you to answer the question. Once you have answered a few questions you will be within shooting range of the goal, and the dribble option will change to shoot. If you answer the question right you will score past the keeper. You keep repeating in the allotted time period and then at the end your IQ is tallied based on how many questions you answered correctly. The rest of the game modes are the usual: Manager mode, pick your team, manage aspects like staff, transfers, contracts and play the games in an attempt to reach your board of director’s season objectives and carry your team to greatness; and Kick-off, a one off match and Tournament, where you can take part in different cups from different countries or create your own custom one.

The other new thing in FIFA this year is the possibility to play the online interactive leagues. Previously this was only available on the PS2 version, and now the PS3. Basically, you choose a club to represent and whenever that club plays a real game, you play too against fans of the opposing team. This involves thousands of players worldwide and at the end of the week's matches, points are tallied on how many wins each team got and so are put in a league ranking just like in real life. Anybody hoping for the Be a Pro mode that was newly introduced in the PS3 version and, to an extent, in the PS2 version too will be sorely disappointed as it isn’t present in any form.

To sum up, FIFA 08 on PSP is a solid game and better, though not in direct comparison to the PS3 version, but in comparison with what there was to work with, meaning that the PSP version gives the best it can on the handheld, unlike the PS3 version which should, and could have easily been much better. The only problem with FIFA 08 is the lack of innovation since last year's incarnation - I get the “why change a winning formula” idea but surely something could have been tweaked to provide an overall better gaming experience; as is, a good game but not a great one.

- Alex Goodenough



EA Sports
EA Canada