bitparade: FIFA 07 (XBox)

FIFA 07 has always been the poor mans option when it comes to football games, its the glory fans dream, its the cash rich Chelsea compared Pro Evolution Soccers rest of the Premiership, you know it plays well, but you cant bare to like it.

Unlike FIFA 07 on Xbox 360, which has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, the improvements current-gen FIFA 07 has to offer are more a case evolution than revolution, with the latest in the series building on the elements of FIFA 06 that worked well rather than starting from scratch. As result all of the positives that in the past have made FIFA the best-selling football game on the planet – the hundreds of officially licensed clubs and players, intuitive controls, superb presentation and killer soundtrack – are all present and correct. But it’s the fine-tuned gameplay and new ball physics that really stand out and make FIFA 07 a great game rather than just a good one.

FIFA 07 is the closest to playing the real game that the series has ever been before. This is mainly thanks to the ball physics, in previous version, the physics were incredibly basic, more or less just bouncing round the pitch. Now, the ball feels more like it would if you were really kicking it yourself, goalies have the potential to fumble a shot, deflections can be unpredictable, and all of them happen randomly rather than being activated by a pre-determined animation. Although you may get that lucky goal from a deflection, just like in real life, the game is more based on skill, skill=goals, something thats been severely lacking from previous FIFA titles where the game was more of a punt the ball to the fastest player, get him to run the length of the pitch before passing it to the guy who plays upfront and has the best chance of scoring, both in game and going by his stats.

FIFA has always been about authenticity, real players, real leagues, real shirts, and this year is no different. FIFA 07 boasts an impressive 500 teams from 27 leagues from all over the world. With most players in their proper squads. You see, not all the players have their transfers finalised, one of note is Ashley Cole, hes still at Arsenal, although this can easily be fixed if you have access to XBox Live or PS2’s Online Network as a squad update will automatically download. This is a great feature, and one I hope EA Sports support even when they’re about to release the next game in the series, although this could actually be the last on the current gen systems so its not actually that important that they do.

The games only major flaw is the clumsiness of the goalkeepers on the default settings. They don’t position themselves as well as you would expect for long range shots, and Free-Kicks can leave them far too easily stumped. If you crank up the difficulty however, this problem is more or less alleviated, but even then FIFA 07 is still a game that features alot of high final scores, 4-4 between Arsenal and Manchester United rings a bell. Games are also unpredictable, and morale doesn’t seem to affect players, on opening day, playing as Arsenal, I lose to Blackburn Rovers 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium, second game was away to Chelsea, which I won 3-0, third game was the 4 all draw against Arsenal, it just feels like too much of a rollercoaster, and much of this carried on through out the season, although I did manage to go on a 10 game unbeaten run near the end which won me the title.

Compared to previous games in the series though, FIFA 07 is a huge improvement, and going on this performance, Konami are going to have to put pout all the stops this year to produce the better football game. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 has its work cut out, and this is going to be the closest “season” in terms of football games in history. FIFA is on the up, and is well worth a purchase for any football fan.F

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