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 FIFA 07 - PlayStation 2
FIFA 07 Title:
Format:
Developer:
Publisher:
Region:
Players:
Rating:
FIFA 07
PlayStation 2 (PS2)
EA
EA
PAL
1-4+
3+

Doesn’t really feel like a whole year since FIFA 06 now does it? But here we are with the latest update to the long running football series and it looks like EA are still miles away from creating a perfect football title. Last years edition had looked like they were making progress with a solid engine and an overall smoother experience. Then the obligatory World Cup version took a firm step backwards, with unresponsive players and a control system ‘borrowed’ from Pro Evolution but poorly implemented. 

Unfortunately, FIFA 07 on the PlayStation 2 doesn’t fare better, in fact it fails to make any kind of changes for the better. At its heart, FIFA was always a very arcadey and fast paced game, whether you preferred that to Pro Evo’s more measured tactical play was up to you but at least there was a choice in styles of gameplay. Now, EA have decided to 'copy' many of the features (including, replicating the control system) of its counterpart, without the finesse afforded to Konami’s title. 

FIFA 07tries to be careful, tactical and precise but still can’t escape its gung-ho action orientated past. As such it sits awkwardly between Mario Strikers and Pro Evolution at each end of the football genre spectrum. EA really needs to decide what sort of game it wants to make and it’ll take longer than a year to make the kind of changes needed to improve the situation. And seeing as we’ve had analogue sticks for ten whole years, couldn’t they offer more than just 8-way digital movement? While The option to configure the controls how the player prefers would also be a welcome addition, instead gamers are presented with two or three alternatives. 

When you look at a game like FIFA 07, which has had a lot of attention paid to its graphics and overall presentation it just doesn’t feel right when your players don’t respond how you want or the tactics you’ve decided upon just don’t work as they should. If EA took the time to get the basics right then maybe we can have some decent opposition to Pro Evo, but as it stands, FIFA 07 isn’t worthy of cleaning Konami’s boots. 

In other areas, this year's FIFA offering is as it has always been; very polished, nice graphics (although slowdown remains a problem) and as authentic as you could want. Menu screens are still a pain to navigate, and the ‘EA Trax’ make a return, for good or bad. Player AI in general is still terrible, with many team mates wandering miles offside or wandering out of position, only goalkeeper intelligence seems to have got better. 

The only change in terms of presentation is in the sound department, which is actually an improvement worthy of a mention. Aside from reinstating old favourites Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray, EA have paid particular attention to the crowd in matches.  

"...FIFA 07 isnít worthy of cleaning Konamiís boots..."

In what is described as an ‘Emotion Engine’ (Sony’s lawyers?), the crowd react to whats happening on the pitch in a far more dynamic way than ever before. The effect is especially striking with surround sound as you will be able to hear the individual sets of fans chanting or booing depending on their teams performance; I even heard a small section of my own supporters turning against me when I was 2-0 down to Watford (well, what do you expect from Boro supporters). And crowds now sound different when you go across continent; the French crowds actually sound French.  

One great feature found in the DS version allows you to record five seconds of your own chanting, which would be great to see be included and expanded upon in later console editions. With the next generation now upon us, its good to see other areas, other than graphics being looked at. 

The management side of things has also been overhauled, mainly to incorporate features from the now defunct FIFA manager series. You can take charge of any team in the game, or one of your own if you feel like making your Sunday league side, and get involved with the day-to-day running of the club, in between each match. It’s a fun diversion and much better than previous FIFAs but lacks depth in crucial areas like transfers and contract negotiations, plus EAs generally awful menus make navigation slow and pretty tedious. Its nowhere near the standard of Football Manager and isn’t even the best console based management game, a title currently held by LMA Manager. 

One of the final bright sparks to come from a pretty dull game comes from the online mode. EA have now set up interactive leagues across some of the more popular worldwide leagues, including the Premiership, La Liga and umm…Mexico. Fans can play against opposition in real world fixtures as and when they happen. EA then take an aggregate of the results and your team’s position climbs or plummets accordingly. It’s possibly the most original idea to have sprouted from a FIFA game and could have been a great selling point had the game itself been worth playing. 

So then, another year, another FIFA, and although some nice new features can found it's hard not to see this as yet another version that fails to excel in any area other than mainly presentation. One for FIFA fans, other footy fanatics know where to look.

Is this the season it happens? Not by the looks of it. 

6.5
Buy At Amazon

Buy FIFA 07 - PlayStation 2 now at Play.com
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