It’s been a few years since the war between FIFA and PES was on its maximum height. It was a grim time with loads of abusive words and seemingly pointless discussions. Eventually, the whole debate concerning the fight for the title ‘best football game’ suddenly stalled, partly because it was a boring discussion for nerds but also because FIFA was getting better while PES stopped evolving, which is strange, knowing evolution is part of the title’s name.
Now Electronic Arts is known to be a ingenious commercial mastermind with the ability to attract the casual gamer. The Neptune of the games industry offers what the gamer asks, and if the gamer asks easy digestable games with enough quality to keep them going, then that’s what the gamer will play. On the Nintendo Wii, which has essentially become the mothership of all easy digestable games, EA has invented the All Play series. All Play is what the name says that it is: I can play it, you can play it and your grandma could possibly score a goal or two if she really tried.
Because gaming grandmas aren’t all that fun as you believe them to be, EA didn’t forget about the serious gamers. Before starting a game or campaign, you get to choose between the All Play way or the serious, more difficult way. All Play helps you with passes and shots on target, so you don’t have think much about tactics. When you choose the more difficult settings, you don’t get aid and you have to depend on yourself, which isn’t as hard as you might think.
You can choose to control the game as you like. The combination nunchuk – wii-mote works great when it comes to obtaining control and focus on the game. You decide where players go with the nunchuk and you control the ball with the wii-mote, aiming at the screen. The same goes for shots on target, which are made by shaking the wii-mote. It’s also possible to only use the wii-mote, but I found myself rather frustrated with this option. While you have to walk by pressing B and aiming at the screen, the passes and shots on target are all done with the same movements. After playing like this for about an hour, I started to feel cramps in my fingers and a painful wrist, especially when you like to run a lot with your players.
Casual gamers can choose to play a ‘footti’ game, where famous teams of 8 caricatures from existing players battle each other in a more relaxed way. Too bad these games offer little more to the overall experience. I would never choose to play a footti game over a real game of FIFA, but I guess modes like these are implemented for the kids and people who never play games, which is fine by me. I still prefer a normal game of football when holding a ‘beer and games’ night with friends. The other minigames are nothing more than a rerun of the same games we’ve already seen in FIFA 08 All Play, and hardly worth to mention.
After a few days I began to notice that it was really easy to score from a distance. It’s really hard to score from a few inch of the goal, while I always considered scoring from a distance to be a long shot for even the most professional football players. I even made an unbelievable goal from the center line with a free kick, which is great if you’re playing Mario Football, but is hardly realistic in a game that takes itself serious. The wii-mote offers you a way to take the most precise free kicks and penalty kicks ever. Sounds like a good thing, but it’s because of the precise aiming with the wii-mote those kicks are almost unstoppable for the computer. Like I said, scoring with a free kick from the center line is absolutely crazy.
The graphics are having a hard time to catch up with the PS2, and that’s a remarkable fact considering the Wii should be a stronger console. Especially when the camera zooms in, you notice the bland and granular graphics, not to mention the horrific audience. Luckily though, it never gets PES Wii ugly, because that was an abstract piece of art, and not in a good way.
The comments given by our English friends are better than the ones we have to endure in Belgium and The Netherlands, yet we can’t shake the feeling it could be far better. The sound from the audience is well done though, and the atmosphere is spot on.
FIFA 09 All Play is a nice game with outdated graphics, yet it never really gets spectacular. The controls are nicely done, especially the combination with the nunchuk and the wii-mote. As you can expect from EA, you can choose all the options you can imagine, though again, nothing mindblowing. You can play online, but don’t expect the same depth as the PS3 or Xbox 360 version.