FIFA 08 PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
FIFA 08 is, in many ways, the first full next-generation FIFA experience. This is the third FIFA game to arrive on the Xbox 360 of course (and the series is making its debut on the PlayStation 3), but this is the first FIFA game that doesn't feel like it's had key features left out. In fact it's packed with content and when you factor in, content aside (the game comes with 30 leagues, many official competitions from these nations, 23 real stadia and over 15,000 real-life players), that FIFA 08 plays a better game of football than the previous next-generation versions in the series, it should just about please anyone who has ever liked the FIFA series.
The modes on offer in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of FIFA 08 are plentiful. You'll get to have a one-off game by selecting Kick-Off from the main menu. You can take part in a multitude of tournaments in Tournament mode and you can even create your own tournament with the Create Tournament mode. If you want to go the whole hog and play through a career picking the team of your choice and developing the squad and completing transfers etc. you can play the Manager mode. This mode alone can easily soak up a few months of your time as you develop your team over several seasons. The game includes the Lounge feature that previous FIFA games (on the last generation of consoles) included and if you're fancying something different, you can take on the Challenge mode or play a game controlling just one player in the Be A Pro mode, which in itself makes for a different experience although you can only play this way in one-off games.
So the amount of offline content is immense then but what about the online options? Fortunately you're well catered for here too. Both versions support both single-game play and leagues. You can choose to take part in an online league with your friends if you wish or you can choose to take part in the EA Sports Interactive Leagues. Here you'll pick a team and play the same fixtures that your team is playing in real-life. Your results are combined with that of other gamers (across all platforms, not just the PS3 and 360 versions) and these results determine your team's placement in the Interactive Leagues. It's a great idea and fans of the series seem to have taken to it really well.
Of course modes aren't everything. It’s no good having a ton of great modes if the game-play isn't up to scratch. Fortunately, FIFA 08 also makes improvements in this respect and the game is easily the best FIFA game we've seen in a long while. The game introduces quite a few skill moves that are performed by holding down the LT or L2 button and moving the analogue sticks. Learning the skill moves isn't essential to success but on the higher difficulty levels you'll certainly need all the tricks up your sleeve that you can muster. The game feels more realistic this year as the developers have gone for a slower, more life-like flow to the game. You'll also notice that the default difficulty setting is actually far more challenging this year. The AI is better, particularly defensively, and will easily muscle you off the ball if you’re not sure of what you're doing. I actually struggled for a while on the default difficulty setting and it wasn't until I was comfortable with the game that I actually had a few wins under my belt. This might seem like a criticism but it's not. Gone are the days when FIFA games provided high scoring matches without any real effort. In FIFA 08 you'll have to work for your victory and this actually has the benefit of making those victories all the more satisfactory.
If you've been reading our other reviews of this year's EA Sports titles you'll know that the PlayStation 3 versions haven't fared as well as the Xbox 360 in terms of performance. The 360 games have, for the most part, managed to rather impressively remain at 60 frames per second but the PlayStation 3 games haven't even come close to matching this. Madden NFL 08 saw the PlayStation 3 version capped at 30 frames per second and at times it struggled to maintain this. With FIFA 08, the 360 also fares better maintaining a rock solid frame rate throughout the in-game action. The PlayStation 3 manages a decent frame rate throughout although there are moments when minor dips are noticeable. Both versions suffer frame rate dips during the game's replays and pre-match presentations. Graphically the games are pretty much identical and both look great.
FIFA 08 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 won't give deaf gamers any problems. The match commentary isn't subtitled, as per usual, but this won't cause any problems (in fact most hearing gamers would probably choose to turn off the commentary due to its repetitive nature). All of the important information in the game is displayed via text or icons (icons are used to indicate that the referee has played the advantage rule or that the keeper is taking too long with the ball for instance). The Manager mode for instance has all of its information displayed in text and deaf gamers will have no problems at all.
PlayStation 3 gamers have had to wait a while for the FIFA series to make its debut on the console but the wait has been worth it. Likewise, Xbox 360 gamers have had to wait even longer for a FIFA game that isn't light on game modes. FIFA 08 on both systems is a very enjoyable game that will not only please fans of the series but may also please those who prefer a football game that more closely resembles the real-life sport rather than a game that has fictitious teams, players and an unrealistically high tempo. The presentation, as always, is impressive and the amount of official teams, stadia and competitions is superb. The way the game plays has definitely improved and it's fair to say that this is the best FIFA game we've played in a long while.