PS3/Xbox 360 Review: FIFA 09

This year’s FIFA vs. Pro Evo battle kicks off in EA’s favour

FIFA 09 has the potential to be the greatest football game ever, earlier this year we had a great football game called Euro 2008, I really enjoyed it…even though England never qualified for the damn thing. Last year, FIFA 08 clearly beat Pro Evo 2008 in the football war. Can the same happen again this year?

Well it’s hard to tell since Pro Evo 2009 isn’t out yet, but based on what FIFA 09 has to offer…it’s going to take something incredibly special to top it, Pro Evo certainly has its work cut out now. In past FIFA games, the controls have felt a bit clunky and unresponsive, making Pro Evolution the clear winner as it handled better. Now the boot is on the other foot as FIFA 09 has a much more refined and responsive feel to it, making it the better game.

FIFA 09 has all the classic modes you’d expect, Manager Mode, Tournament Mode and so on. There are no real surprises other than the fact that this year’s game can take stats from the net based on real matches and apply them to a specific league like the Premier League. So being a Newcastle fan, I bet you can imagine what a difference that made considering all the things that are going on with the club at the moment.

Having said that, it didn’t affect performance too much in Manager Mode, due to the fact you can upgrade players strengths using experience you gain in matches. The 360 version has a total of 48 achievements while the PS3 version currently has zero trophies, maybe they’ll add in some later..although I’m uncertain if that will happen. The achievements in the 360 version are mostly easy, making you score from headers, penalties, free kicks and so on. One called Judas will test any fan as they are forced to beat their favourite team with their rivals, so for me..I had to beat Newcastle with Sunderland. If my relatives heard I had done that, I’d be castrated for my betrayal.

Just kidding, I’m sure they’d just call me a Judas for a few years. Anyway, FIFA 09 also has tactics that you can issue during matches, so if you want your team to become more aggressive or defensive, then you can tap a button on the d-pad and order them. What’s probably the most fun part of FIFA 09 is celebrating after scoring a goal; EA has gone to town here with a wide list that you can pull off. They even had their own menu listing; my personal favourite has to be sliding down after scoring.

If you’ve never been a fan of the control scheme in FIFA games, you can make your own custom controls and even take them online, which is a nice touch. Goalkeeper AI has definitely improved, responding better than in past titles. Visually, the game looks better too…crowds look more than just pixelated blobs that they used to be, stadiums look authentic and character models are improved..although not as detailed as I’d have liked, maybe they haven’t tapped out the systems’ resources fully just yet.

Comparing both the versions, there’s no real difference between the two in terms of performance or visuals. They both run smoothly for the most part, there can be a bit of slowdown now and then but its barely noticeable..I’m just nitpicking at this point. The commentary is perhaps the best yet, although lines do tend to repeat more often and can become a pain, but if you don’t like it you can always turn it down in the options menu.

The Verdict

FIFA 09 is without a doubt, the best football game ever made…so far. FIFA 09 has great modes and much needed improvements both visually and in terms of control. It’s going to be tough for PES 2009 to challenge it, it’ll be interesting to see what game comes out on top this year.