FIFA 07 PlayStation 2 & PC DVD-ROM

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

FIFA 07, an introduction.

Another year, another FIFA game. You’ve probably read cynical comments year after year on various gaming web sites and in games magazines. The usual complaints are that the game isn’t that different or even that it’s not as good as previous versions. There is some truth in this of course, as there is with most games that are released on a yearly basis, but I’d be surprised if I read about such complaints with FIFA 07. Whilst all the hype has been centred on the Xbox 360 version of FIFA O7 with its sophisticated real life physics and player movements etc., you may be forgiven for thinking the other versions weren’t up to much or that they weren’t much of an improvement. We’ve been fortunate to have both the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of the game in for review and suffice to say it’s the best FIFA game we’ve played in a long time.

What’s the game about?

FIFA O7, like the previous versions of the game, is once again a football extravaganza. The game features 27 leagues from 20 nations with over 500 teams having their correct kits and club badges. There are four interactive leagues to play in. An enhanced Manager Mode has been included. There is also a Tournament Mode (and you can create your own tournaments), a Practice Mode, a quick game mode (dubbed Kick Off) and an online mode. There’s also a FIFA 07 Challenge mode that gives you a huge array of scenarios to attempt and earn points from if you’re successful. These points can then be used to unlock extra stadia, balls and other such items.

What’s good about the game?

There is a natural ebb and flow about the matches in FIFA 07 on the PlayStation 2 and PC that I haven’t seen before in the FIFA series. The main reason for this is that the ball now moves in a much more natural fashion. Deflections seem quite realistic and controlling the ball seems much more intuitive. The general AI of the players seems better too and you’ll notice players making better use of the space available to them. Goalkeepers are also better this time around (although they still aren’t as good as they could be). Shooting is better too. That’s not to say it’s easier though. In fact you’ll notice shots going all over the place if the shot is attempted with the player’s weaker foot or when the player is not ideally placed.

In terms of features, much has been made about the new Interactive leagues that see you taking control of a team in the English, French, German and Mexican top divisions and playing out they fixtures on real world match days against the same opposition the team faces in real life. The PlayStation 2 version links up with the PSP version so you can carry on your progress whilst you’re on the way to work, which is a very welcome feature. The Manager Mode has once again been included and allows you to attempt to take the team of your choice to the very top. The FIFA 07 Challenge mode is chock full of challenges with the unlockable extras being a sufficient incentive to keep you coming back for more.

What’s bad about the game?

Unfortunately for PC gamers most of the problems with FIFA 07 are to do with the PC version of the game. Most would have hoped that this year’s version would have bore a closer resemblance to the Xbox 360 version rather than the PlayStation 2 version but sadly that’s not happened. The game is obviously a PlayStation 2 port and that’s disappointing. Strangely enough despite not looking the best, the PC version has performance issues even when running on a good spec PC. Whilst the goalkeepers have improved somewhat from previous versions of the game they are still prone to palming the ball into the net, from time to time, when it would have been seemingly easier to have saved the shot.  Long range shots seem to beat them rather easily too, which is unfortunate.

How does it look?

Once again EA have delivered a game with superb presentation values. I have no problems with how the PlayStation 2 version looks as it’s probably about as good as a football game could look on the console which is how it should be when you consider the console will have been superseded by the PlayStation 3 this time next year (although living in the UK and with the potential for the console’s release date to slip beyond March ’07 you never know). The player animations and movements are much better this year and the game looks all the better for it. Of course all of the teams have their correct kits, complete with sponsors etc. and it all looks pretty impressive.

I do have to take issue with the PC version though. First of all it’s quite obvious the game has ported over from the PlayStation 2 version. The graphics don’t take advantage of the PC’s potential and the character models look pretty bad, even when playing at higher resolutions and with the maximum graphical details enabled. There are some frame rate issues too with the PC version. In open play the frame rate is actually quite smooth but when you get those mini-cutscenes for substitutions or when a player gets booked etc., the frame rate slows to a crawl to make the whole thing look like a slide show. After reading various forums on the Internet it appears that running the game in a windowed mode (by adding, without the quotes, “-small_screen –windowed” to the target line on the desktop shortcut properties) the problem is solved. I tried this and it worked for me. However this then gives a graphical tearing effect which is just as unsightly.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

FIFA 07 isn’t going to give deaf gamers any problems. As per usual the match commentary isn’t subtitled but in truth this is no great loss and will not affect your enjoyment of the game in the slightest. All information when you’re not playing a match is displayed in text. The questions that are put to you in Manager Mode (which can affect your team) are shown in text as are the results of your answers. The challenges in the FIFA 07 Challenge mode are shown in text so you’ll always know what needs to be done. In short then FIFA 07, on both the PC and PlayStation 2, is fine for deaf gamers.

Final thoughts.

As we said at the top of the review, the FIFA games are often criticized for being only slightly different year after year. This criticism would be difficulty to level at FIFA 07. For the first time in years it feels very different and the matches have a much more natural feel to them. The general physics in the game seem better too. The ball seems to deflect in a much more natural way than it has ever done in a FIFA game. Player control feels better and slightly more responsive than in previous versions and even the goalkeepers are much improved. However, the goalkeepers are susceptible to the odd error that gives either you or the opposition a goal from time to time and this is disappointing. Whilst we had very few problems with the PlayStation 2 version, it was disappointing to experience some technical issues with the PC version. It was also disappointing to see that the PC version is once again an apparent port of the PlayStation 2 version instead of being based on the much better looking Xbox 360 (the demo of which has just been released). FIFA fans are going to love FIFA 07 and they will be really pleased with the improvements that have been made this year.

Overall Game Rating: 8.7/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

FIFA 07 is quite simply the best FIFA game we’ve seen in a long time. The game feels much more satisfactory this year and fans of the series will be impressed with the improvements that have been made. The PC version could have looked much better though and it’s a shame there are a few technical problems that need sorting out with certain PC configurations. The PlayStation 2 version has no such problems however and if given the choice it’s the version I would go for.