FIFA 08 Wii
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Given the incredible popularity of the Nintendo Wii and also the popularity of the FIFA series it was inevitable that we would see a version of FIFA 08 on Nintendo's latest console. The problem is of course that the Nintendo Wii doesn't have a conventional control setup. The Wii remote and nunchuk provides a control scheme similar to a conventional gamepad but this doesn’t really offer a comfortable control scheme. The alternative is to create a control scheme that fully utilises the motion-sensing capabilities of the console. The later choice is a certainly one that takes a lot of guts but it's the one that the game's developers took. Whether or not you get on with the unique controls will largely determine whether you like FIFA 08 on the Wii.
Compared to the other versions of FIFA 08 we've seen, the Wii version feels rather limited in terms of the modes it offers. The included modes are Kick-Off (for one-off exhibition matches), Online, Interactive Leagues, Tournament, Challenges and Footii Party. Online allows you to play one vs. one games using an Internet connection. Interactive Leagues is where 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 Wii version) and these results determine your team's placement in the Interactive Leagues. You can take part in a multitude of tournaments in Tournament mode. Challenges mode offer a multitude of scenarios that are split into three main difficulty levels. Finally Footii Party (with Ronaldinho) offers three different mini-games for you to play. The notable absence here is the Manager mode. This is quite an omission and it robs Wii owners of the one mode that's capable of keeping them occupied with the game for more than a few weeks.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, it's the game's controls (and how well you get on with them) that will determine whether you like FIFA 08 for the Wii. The controls do take some getting used to. The game has a section, called Football Academy that teaches you how to play the game. Essentially you have two choices regarding the controls. You can elect to play with just the remote and have limited interaction (this is another Wii game to support EA Sports' Family Play system which makes it possible for anyone to enjoy a sports game), or you can attach the nunchuk attachment to play with the advanced control scheme. To be honest you're going to want to play with the advanced control scheme to feel like you're actually doing something. You'll move your player using the analogue stick on the nunchuk but the bulk of the actions are performed by making gestures with the remote. Shooting is done by swinging the remote in an upward motion. To do a chip shot you'll do the same thing only you'll hold the C button down whilst swinging. To perform a throw in, you'll put both the nunchuk and remote behind your head and then swing forward in an action that resembles a real throw in. To pass, you'll hold down the A button and swing the remote in the chosen direction. Tackles are performed with the B button. Many actions rely on a mix of button presses and gestures with the Wii remote. For the most part the controls work well but there's quite a learning curve here. Some skill moves have been included but there isn’t a great deal of them. No support has been given for the classic controller so if you want to switch to a more conventional control scheme, you'll be disappointed.
Aside from the out of the ordinary controls, the other Wii exclusive feature is the Footii Party mode. Here you'll have a choice of three mini-games to play. Table Football is a virtual representation of Table Football (sometimes called Bar Football or Foosball). The idea is to use the Wii remote to turn the bars and strike the ball into your opponent’s goal. Boot It is a game that's basically taking shots at a keeper, taking care to hit the score multipliers and not hit the markers that will detract from your overall score. Juggling is essentially a rhythm-based game where the objective is to keep the ball from hitting the ground by performing the appropriate actions. All three games support up to four players and Table Football at least will act as an interesting diversion from the main game.
In terms of visual quality, FIFA 08 on the Wii is OK. The graphics look a little sharper than the PlayStation 2 version and the frame rate remains smooth throughout. Load times can be a little on the long side but they're far from problematic. The general presentation of the game is fine too. Deaf gamers shouldn't have too many problems with the game. The match commentary isn't subtitled and the Football Academy section isn't subtitled, although the important tutorial messages and objectives are shown in text. Communications on the online mode are in text too, meaning deaf gamers won't have any problems there.
FIFA 08 for the Wii is both pleasing and disappointing in equal measure. I think the control scheme that's been used is quite fun but I would have liked a traditional control scheme (offering support for the classic controller) offered. The online mode works well and the Table Football game is enjoyable. However, the lack of a Manager mode really puts a dent in the game's longevity. What it boils down to is that FIFA 08 for the Wii is quite enjoyable but isn't anywhere near as satisfying as the PlayStation 3, 360, PC or PlayStation 2 versions of the game. That said, it's unique and isn't simply a port of one of those other versions, which is certainly good to see.