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 FIFA 08 - Xbox 360
When we reviewed FIFA 07 for Xbox 360 last year, it marked the end of usual FIFA trend of same gameplay plus new features. Instead, we got a brand new game engine with some features and teams removed. But that wasn't the biggest problem: the new game engine sucked.

Thankfully, the game engine has been vastly improved and some great new features have been added to make FIFA 08 the best FIFA game on Xbox 360 to date.

Before you jump in and play some football, you'll want to find out if your favourite team has made it into the game after last years title saw a huge cull in the number of teams so EA could beat the shipping deadline. The 08 outing sees 620 licensed teams, 30 official leagues and more than 15,000 players. If you like football, it's more than likely your team is here, as England alone features the top 4 leagues alongside the addition of the Scottish SPL. Sadly, the games biggest flaw is still the gameplay itself. The first thing to notice when you play the game is the size of players compared to the surrounding environment. The players look a minimum seven feet while in comparison the goalframes look like they've been stolen from a local 5-a side complex. Hell, the entire pitch seems more suitable for five or seven a-side not only because of the large character models but due to the fact getting space in midfield is near-impossible.

Flaws aside, the FIFA 08 game engine is a much better offering than before. passing is more responsive, team mate AI encourages forward passing and new D-Pad controls give players instant access to tactical changes without whipping up the start menu. Goals are hard to come by, but then it's exactly the same in the beautiful game, don't go expecting 8-0 riots in your first few games.

The best of the "NEW!" game modes this year is the "Be a Pro" mode, which sees you controlling just a single player on the pitch for the entire game. This is the future of online football games. It takes some patience getting used to, but will be rewarding once EA releases its 5 vs 5 multiplayer downloadable content later in the year. Expanding on this, full 11 vs 11 online games are expected to be included in Fifa 09. Another innovative online mode are tournaments, which can be customised to involve up to 32 players (public or private) competing to be crowned king of FIFA.

For some reason, and despite having a completely separate game devoted to Football Management, Manager mode has made an unwelcome return. It's a stripped down version of EA's FIFA Manager game, and doesn't add anything that will keep the player hooked for long. But for those interested in keeping players happy whilst balancing the books, this gives the gamer even more value for money with the comprehensive list of game modes.

EA should be really starting to worry Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series. It may not quite feel as natural as Pro Evo, but with it's flashy visuals, innovative ways to play and excellent presentation coupled with a comprehensive amount of online and offline game modes, expect FIFA 08 to kick its rivals out to touch this season.

8.5 out of 10

Buy FIFA 08 - Xbox 360 now at Play.com
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