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Consoles come and go; over the years weíve had the likes of the Playstation, Playstation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, DS and everything in between. Itís safe to say that the games console market is pretty well catered for. Like their console buddies, games seem to come and go quickly, a couple of years ago the whole teenage boy demographic was literally obsessed with the Grand Theft Auto era, these days Call Of Duty has taken over that market and itís a safe bet that in a year or two there will a another game that surpasses it. However, there are some games which have been a regular feature in the games charts year after year; one of those such games is Fifa.
Fifa have been entertaining with their brand of football games for years now and as we reach a new decade the Fifa steam train doesnít seem to showing signs of slowing down. Fifa have been the leaders of football console games for many years now, managing to beat off competition from the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer to reign supreme and become one of the best selling game titles of all time.
As this is the PS2 version (which will be the last Fifa game to be released on the format), you shouldnít expect the graphics to be up to the standards of the Playstation 3s and Xbox 360s of the world. However, I have to admit I do think theyíre pretty acceptable. With a game like this the graphics arenít depended on as much as the game play and the overall feel of the game itself. As I say there are no major glitches or problems with the graphics per say; David Beckham still has his perfectly sculpted face and supremely flawless haircut so thatís good enough for me. It is clear however that more effort has gone into some players than others (for instance David Beckham), the more famous players will look more akin to their real selves than some of the lesser known players. This could be seen as favouritism but at the end of the day young boys are more interested in scoring goals with Wayne Rooney or Ronaldo than they are with an unknown South African player. Occasionally youíll notice that some players will disappear and during some of the action replays tackles can look a little silly but apart from that I have no problems graphics wise.
In game play terms the game comes up trumps, in this day and age game players expect the best with the technology thatís available to us nowadays and this game doesnít disappoint. Controlling the players movements has never been easier. As on a lot of games, itís the left toggle thatís used to move around the pitch which is something that youíll need to familiarise yourself with if youíre used to using the directional buttons. Although controlling players is easy, sometimes they will go off in another direction to where you want them to go, occasionally youíll want them to stop and perform a 180 degree turn which is possibly what I have the most problems with in the game. Often instead of going back the player will do a full 360 degree turn then begin running in the direction he was previously facing. It would seem that the game is reluctant to allow you to move your players away from the opposing goal which can be extremely annoying. It would appear that one touch of the toggle in a certain direction leads the player to run or jog quite a long way down the pitch. This becomes a problem when youíre near the sidelines and you want to keep the ball in play. If your player is running towards the line and you want him to run the other way itís likely that heíll still end up running right off the pitch like an drunken idiot that doesnít know what heís there for. For the most part though the game play is good. I havenít played the game since about the 2006 version and I now notice Fifa have incorporated the use of performing fancy tricks to get passed your opponent. This is a very handy tool and works well, itís especially useful if youíre surrounded by players of the opposing team and there is no one from your team close by. Flicking the right toggle will make your player play with the ball, weaving it through his feet and eventually around the players. This can be relatively tricky (no pun intended) to perform at first and it will take some practise to perfect but once youíve got the hang of it itís a great trick to have in your arsenal, (I apologise for the bad jokes).
I have never played Pro Evolution Soccer, therefore cannot comment on the similarities or differences between them, however Iíve always got the impression from people that Pro Evo was for the expert in the field of football games, whereas Fifa was aimed more so at the youngsters and beginners. Fifa seem intent on removing that stigma with the release of this game. The game incorporates numerous difficulty levels ranging from amateur to legendary, which unsurprisingly Iím yet to experience. One thing that always annoyed me with Fifa is when youíve just put the disc in for the first time, possibly with no prior experience of the game and the first thing youíre made to do is play a match against a team of old legendary players such as Cantona. The difficulty would always be set to semi-pro which doesnít seem too bad but if itís your very first match it makes things very difficult for you. Couple that with the fact that you probably donít even know the correct buttons to press this can make your introduction to Fifa a very frustrating one. Fortunately this has now been eradicated from the game and itís all the better for it.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the game or for those who just want to brush up on their skills, Training Mode is the perfect opportunity. You choose which team you would like to play as and your team and your team only will have full use of your home ground. You can play your starting 11 against your subs to get some proper game practise or you can choose to be more specific in what you practise. You can focus on free kicks, throw ins, corners or penalties and is a great way to get in some extra practise if you feel youíre lacking in a certain area.
My favourite thing about past Fifa games was always the Manager Mode. Manager Mode allows you to choose a team, which you would then manage through an entire season. Through buying/selling players, upgrading staff and making managerial decisions concerning press statements. Since the 2006 version not much has really changed and I was very surprised at the lack of progression in the last 3 to 4 years. Having said that, if something isnít broken then why fix it? To me there is nothing fundamentally wrong within the Manager Mode and although there have been no major changes made, there have been a fair few tweaks in the process. Purchasing a new player for your team has thankfully been simplified. Instead of receiving no feedback as to how close you are becoming to signing a player (I.e if your offer is high enough) the game now includes an arrow which starts at the left and the further to the right it points the higher your chances of signing the player. Manager Mode is excellent as it gives the game some much needed longevity because lets face it how long can you really sit and kick a computerised ball about before getting completely bored? Well speaking from personal experience it isnít long. Manager Mode gives you other things to keep you occupied, all the while centring around the beautiful game. You will have to make decisions such as what to say to the press and their probing questions, whether to update your staff such as a better Stadium Manager or Fitness Manager. You can even decide on how much to charge for tickets on home games. This gives the Manager Mode a very realistic feel to it and is the sole reason why I bought the game.
Create A Player/Team Mode has always been a bit of a grey area for me. I had used this mode once or twice in previous editions but I really got stuck into it for the 2010 edition. This is the mode where the graphics really take a hit as the faces look more like they should be part of the cast of The Simpsons and not a semi realistic football game. During creating a player or indeed a team you have to choose a name, their position and kit number. The details donít stop there though, Fifa have all the minor details covered, even down to the colour of their boots, the length of their socks and the way in which they celebrate upon scoring a goal. This mode really is well catered for. What I donít like though is the attributes system. The attributes cover a range of skills that you player possesses. For instance if heís a striker his main attributes will of course be speed and shooting etc, however each player has about 20 to 30 attributes that you can raise or lower. The attributes range from 1 (which equates to awful) to 99 (world class). The problem is there is no limit on the attributes you can equip your player with. Therefore in theory you can create an entire team of players and equip every single one of them with 99 for each and every attribute possible, effectively making your team unbeatable. This means that you can make your own dream team and of course some people will love this. I, on the other hand think itís a bit too easy and I would liked to have seen a system where you have to win matches to earn attributes for your players. This would give the game a lot more longevity and would give the player something to work for, the end result being having an unbeatable team.
Other modes included in the game are: Be A Pro: Club And Country. This is effectively a watered down version of the Manager Mode but for international teams. Overall I was very disappointed with the lack of features for this mode. The Season is a new mode for the 2010 version. This is again a huge letdown as itís effectively Manager Mode without the manager. This means that you play match after match without making the managerial decisions that you do with Manager Mode. This could be a nice inclusion for people who have an aversion to Manager Mode, however with Manager Mode itís up to you how much input you have into the decisions. You can put in a lot of effort to make your team stand out from the crowd, or you can simply ignore your duties and play the matches how you want to. So in theory The Season is a wasted effort.
Overall this is a very good gameÖ for a few weeks. The longevity on this game and others in its genre is very poor and thatís through no fault of the game itself. Manager Mode is undeniably the highlight of the game however after youíve done one or two seasons you begin to tire of the same things over and over again and the repetitive nature of the game can really start to grate on you. If youíre not interested in Manager Mode then I suggest utilising the multi player option which allows you to play against your friends. This injects the fun back into the game and the fact that you can play with up to 8 players means that you can have endless amounts of fun having tournaments with your friends.
Recommended but only for true fans of the game.
The game is available on the Playstation 2 from Amazon for £11.93.