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FIFA Football 2005 Xbox

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date : Out Now
Price : £39.99

You know the build up to Christmas has well and truly begun when the big game releases start to come thick and fast week after week after week. One of those titles that's always on millions of gamers' wish lists is the latest FIFA game. Every year we hope for a mass of changes and hope that the niggles we had with the previous versions have been fixed. Of course some just want a new game to have updated statistics and if there's one thing you can't fault the FIFA series for it's the attention to detail of such things as up to date player rosters and official paraphernalia. It's time to check out FIFA Football 2005 and see how it shapes up for the new season.

The statistics for FIFA 2005 are impressive. 18 leagues, 38 national teams and 11,000 real players. Many official tournaments can be found in the game and once again there is a career mode to keep you occupied for many months to come. In fact the career mode has been improved substantially in FIFA 2005. You'll now earn experience points with which you can increase the abilities of your staff, which in turn will help improve your players. In addition to the career mode you can play a quick exhibition match or play in a tournament (and create your own tournament if you want). You can create your own players in FIFA 2005 if that's what you like to do. Once again you can interchange teams from the latest Total Club Manager games in what EA terms, Football Fusions and it's certainly a feature owners of both games will make use of. I would imagine the feature that most Xbox gamers will be looking forward to is the full support for Xbox Live. The usual Quick Match and Optimatch modes are here and you can even create your own 4 or 8 player tournaments. Microsoft and EA even have a virtual FIFA World Cup setup too, which is sure to attract many gamers. Of course the game could be played online last year if you had the PlayStation 2 version but the console's online system is far from perfect and Xbox Live is a better system in just about every department. Games are quick to setup and easy to arrange and regardless of when you want to play, you'll almost always find an opponent. Most of the games we played were lag free too.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the game is how it plays. FIFA 2005 is actually a quite enjoyable experience and overall a slight improvement on the previous couple of versions. There are a few problems though. Most of the time it's easier to score from outside of the penalty area. Once inside the penalty area you'll do well to put the ball past the keeper who almost always saves it (headers are the one exception to this). Simply getting into the penalty area can prove tricky though with the close marking AI defenders. In fact you'll find the games are a lot tighter this time around. The AI seems to have been programmed to mark tightly and always keep a substantial amount of players in a deep role. Whilst this is a perfectly acceptable tactic it does make for plenty of 0-0 results until you've completely mastered all the techniques necessary for evading these tight defences. To make matters worse your players don't seem to run that fast and their fitness level meter depletes quite quickly if you keep the run button (the right trigger) continuously pressed.

EA Sports have added a few extra features this year such as the ability to do a lob shot and a manual through pass which does make things more interesting. There is also a new First Touch ability. As the ball approaches your player simply push the right analogue stick in the direction to want to lay the ball off in and this buys you some room to either shoot, pass or run with the ball and gives you a head start from a close marking opponent. I actually like the inclusion of the First Touch and found it added to the game. Set pieces are more or less the same as last years game. Free Kicks still use the method of you placing the target where you'd like the ball to go and then using what seems like a swing gauge from an old golf game. The method of taking corners has remained too, with you picking the type of corner you want and pressing the appropriate button whilst having a few seconds to control the receiving player. Throw-ins have been modified so that you can control the receiving player but it doesn't really do much to the game.

The one area where FIFA games have always slaughtered the opposition is in the quality of the presentation. Once again FIFA Football 2005 is head and shoulders above the opposition. Official teams, official kits, official players, real stadium names, real competitions and of course the official FIFA authorisation means EA Sports can create a game that looks fantastic. There's no Man Red or North London nonsense here and to top it off the player rosters are a lot more accurate than they were in Pro Evolution Soccer 4. Look at the crowds. No cardboard cut-out spectators here either and they move about and celebrate when a goal is scored. The player models look good although not many actually look like the players they are meant to represent. The player animations could be better though because some movements look good whilst others do appear to be a bit wooden. Generally the frame rate in FIFA 2005 is fine but it can dip on the odd occasion such as when the camera switches behind the keeper to take a free kick but this doesn't spoil anything.

FIFA Football 2005, aside from not having the match commentary subtitled, is fine for deaf gamers. Outside of the football matches all information is in text only so you're not going to miss out on any information at all. The matches won't cause you a problem either as icons and gauges are used to show information. When controlling a player, a fitness level bar is shown under your player's name and this bar will deplete to indicate that your player is becoming tired. Pointers indicate the general direction of your other players when they are not onscreen. You get a text description when choosing which corners to take and the free kicks are taken by using the meter, which appears onscreen. The manual is rather short on information but a full list of the controls has been included.

As ever it comes down to how successful and appealing the new additions are to you when deciding whether to purchase or not but having said that, dedicated FIFA fans will have picked up the game on the day of release. The inclusion of Xbox Live support is most welcome and the improved career mode is also very nice. In terms of actually playing a game of football though it's only fractionally different from last years game although the improvements are generally for the better. Most will have been expecting a lot more to have been different though. I'm sure FIFA fans will appreciate FIFA Football 2005 though and with online play now included you can at last show everyone how good you really are.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Xbox Live support and an enhanced career mode are the main attractions this time around but the experience may be a little too similar to last years game for some.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Fine for deaf gamers.