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FIFA Soccer 09 (PC) artwork

FIFA Soccer 09 (PC) review

"Annually updated for pretty much as long as I can remember, it's always sat a little behind the Pro Evolution series in capturing what makes this most godlike of sports so magical. This year's – or, if you go by the date, next year's - update inches ever closer to realising its dream, but once again falls just short of the mark in a few areas."

It's called 'football'.

That's what it says on the box in front of me, and that's what we call it here in the country that invented it, so that's what we'll go with for the purposes of this review. I confess to not watching a lot of it, but as far as I can tell, a great amount of American football is played with your hands. Honestly. You're supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Get a grip.

Now that I've insulted the vast majority of the Honest Gamers readership in one small paragraph, let's talk about FIFA. Annually updated for pretty much as long as I can remember, it's always sat a little behind the Pro Evolution series in capturing what makes this most godlike of sports so magical. This year's – or, if you go by the date, next year's - update inches ever closer to realising its dream, but once again falls just short of the mark in a few areas.

Funnily enough, the actual core of the game is actually pretty good these days, easily capable of holding its own against the front runner. Collision detection and the relevant animations seem to have received a particular overhaul, and the game feels a fair bit more credible as a result. Players stumble and slip in a satisfying and convincing manner, and tackles seem to have much more weight to them than before.

Elsewhere... actually, no, scrap that. I was going to talk about the other ways in which FIFA builds upon its existing base with more improvements, but I've hit a wall straight away. There aren't any.

Nothing significant, anyway. There's a new update system that downloads the most recent squads, player data and other gubbins to your account, which is a welcome addition, but hardly an essential one. There are a couple of new lines of commentary, recorded nicely as usual by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray in the UK, and probably some other blokes in other places. The engine's received a facelift, meaning that, for the first time ever, the pitches actually look like they're made of grass instead of glowing radioactive Perspex. And that's about your lot.

But then, FIFA's been pretty good for a few years now, so maybe that's as positive a remark as any. Stylistically, it's as polished as ever, taking extra special care to make you feel like you're watching the beautiful game on the telly. It has all the licenses and a frankly sickening amount of corporate sponsorship. The little cinematic pre-game touches are as brilliant as ever. FIFA's always been about the stellar presentation and, as usual, it goes a long way to helping you forgive its flaws.

Opposition AI still feels odd and contrived, and seems far too focussed on running forward with the ball and using ridiculous skill moves. FIFA excels in playing a patient game of possession, so it seems odd that the computer seems so dead set against this style. In addition to this, the game still moves far too quickly unless you specifically slow it down in the options menu, which only compounds the issue.

Controls are generally okay but occasionally unresponsive at vital moments, and there's an odd bug in the PC version that means certain gamepads just don't work properly, even though they're listed among those supported. There's a patch to fix it, but those wanting to simply insert the disk and play may find themselves utterly baffled as to why three essential actions absolutely refuse to map to any buttons. There's also a new option for keyboard/mouse control, but it's utterly rubbish. Pretend it's not there.

Less than seven hundred words, and I'm done. That's your lot. There's nothing else to remark about, but what's here is as solid as ever, while continuing to lack the X-factor of its main competitor. Very much the Everton of football games, if that means anything to you.

It probably won't, because you call it 'soccer'. You blithering idiots.

Rating: 7/10

Lewis's avatar
Freelance review by Lewis Denby (November 23, 2008)

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EmP posted November 24, 2008:

I beat you to the whole football/soccer rant years ago. That being said, seeing as you share this pet hate, I've never felt closer to you.

I think Fifa's gained on ISS hugely over the last handful of years. Though Fifa never seems to make giant strides forwards, it still makes strides while ISS has, for many years now, been in a state of perpetual staleness.
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JANUS2 posted November 24, 2008:

I enjoy FIFA better than Pro Evo now. If only because you can take shots while the game is loading.
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EmP posted November 24, 2008:

Agreed. That little mini-game while the loads take place is genius.
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wolfqueen001 posted November 24, 2008:

That being said, seeing as you share this pet hate, I've never felt closer to you.

Heeeey! I was here first! >=O
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EmP posted November 24, 2008:

You still call it soccer. You never stood a chance.
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wolfqueen001 posted November 24, 2008:

;_; *sniff* Fine. I neever loved you anyway! *runs off crying*
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Lewis posted November 24, 2008:

I could vaguely understand if you said "socker". But two Cs? Come on now.

Anyway, I love Gary and... whatever WQ's name is equally.
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wolfqueen001 posted November 24, 2008:

Aww... <3 Now if EmP could admit he loves both of us equally, I'll be very happy indeed. ^_^

*dark sinister tone* ...otherwise I might have to kill you because you're my rival. >=O

Joking aside, haha. I don't know why we call it soccer, either. =/ I guess it's just one of those "Yay - let's be different from everyone else even if it doesn't make any sense!" things we have.

But the hilariousy ironic thing about this whole thing is that I actually do call it football... at least around EmP and other Brits/Europeans (so he has no excuses!). I've always wondered how much it confuses them when I do.

EDIT: I just read the review in its entirety. I think it's hilariously redundant that it's called "FIFA Soccer" When FIFA stands for something International Football Association or something.

And I know you call us a bunch of blithering idiots (don't worry; I still love you =P), but I also know you only say that with affection, so we forgive you.

Actually, though, I would like to dispute that I don't think it really was you that invented the gamae. I thought the game was around in some form or another since the time of the ancient Greeks.
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Lewis posted November 24, 2008:

Cambridge Rules pretty much started the modern game. Dunno about the pre-pig's-bladder days, though.
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Lewis posted November 25, 2008:

My late-night proofreading did not serve me well. How many times did I use the word 'actual' in a single paragraph there?
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wolfqueen001 posted November 25, 2008:

Twice. With two more following in the subsequent two paragraphs (one in each).

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