FIFA Football 2005
Despite many attempts of other developers and publishers, there are only two real competitors in the Champion’s League of virtual soccer. The first is Pro Evolution Soccer and the second the FIFA-series. From the latter another yearly update has been cooked up and we didn’t hesitate to make our soccer shoes dirty.
As everyone will probably know it’s not the idea of EA to bring a totally new footie-game to the market. Instead they try to improve and perfectionise the total package of FIFA. Of course that means extra gameplay options (think the off-the-ball movements of FIFA2004) and this time the balltaking has been reworked.
Thanks to this update you can much better control the way how your player takes the ball and what he does with it at first touch. The system works equal to the way how you’re doing tricks. You click the right stick towards to direction you want to have the ball go (or you immediately do a trick-take) and depending on the skills of your players you’ll get to see a great of sucky move.
Beware as not everything immediately works: it’s certainly not so that this part has gotten extremely important.
Together with the “off-the-ball” improvements of last year, which are still present, you can now do several fun and satisfying actions. With the left shoulder button you still send players into the depth and in combination with the one-touch balltaking you can set up great actions like that. If you work with top players you can put your defender safe, send another in the depth at the same time, and pass the ball. It may be clear that it’s gotten mighty difficult to dribble through the whole field with only one player. Passing becomes more and more the central part of FIFA and we certainly aren’t sad about that.
Also good is that you can control the receiving players with a throw-in. This adds to the realism and makes a better game: you’ll loose the ball less often. Especially for those that are used to playing multiplayer soccer, like myself, this is a great finding.
One final comment on the gameplay covers the improved ball behaviour. This time it really does what we can expect from a real ball that’s subjected to the laws of physics. Concerning game pleasure we can safely say that the creators have managed thanks to above improvements to give a more realistic feeling to the whole.
The reason why I almost only play soccer games with my friends (next to the fact that 3 on 3 is extremely fun) is because the AI still doesn’t play like a “real” player. FIFA 2005 doesn’t make a revolution here. Not that it isn’t fun or no challenge to play against the CPU but still you see that stupid decisions are taken or that the computer knows more than he could possibly know. It happens more than once that open chances aren’t used or a teammate doesn’t do what he should.
Who doesn’t have any friends of course gets his kicks aswell, not in the least with the Career mode. Here you can bring a team from the lowest regions to the highest during 15 seasons and in the meantime occupy yourself with the games, tactics, transfers, budgets, etc. Downpoint is that you can’t start with your favorite team (only the lesser gods are available at start) so you’ll need to wait for an offer from your dream team. This isn’t really bad, after all we’re talking about the “from zero to hero”-formula, but I can imagine that some gamers would rather instantly start with Real Madrid instead of having to wait a couple of seasons.
The way you have to do transfers could have been done a bit more slick (there’s no search function for stats f.i.) but the many options and finishing make up for a lot. On top of that, if you own Total Club Manager 2005 you can enjoy the pleasure of Football Fusion with which both games go hand in hand perfectly.
Probably and hopefully this will give a better streamlined experience, although one must say that 2005 already brings a big improvement over 2004 and hours of entertainment are guaranteed for the single player.
On to the online options ! Although playing against human adversaries is fantastic, the possibilities are in the end nothing special and offer what we’re used from the Live-services (think Optimatch etc). Also you can start friendly games and tournaments with up to 7 other participants. Quite stupid is the fact that you can’t see which buddies are online and whether they’re playing.
Praise needs to be given but we can expect more now that we’ve seen what’s possible with Halo 2.
Another nice addition, although I’m getting fed up with the unlockable stuff, is the FIFA Store where you can get a lot of extra’s. By getting to certain goals (like a hattrick) you’ll earn points which you can use f.i. to get Collina on the field. Also stadiums at night time and additional soundtracks are part of the rewards.
Lots of people will also be happy to see there’s a “create your player”-function to…create your own player and have him compete with the best. The possibility to see you tackle Ronaldo is always a good addition to a game.
As usual, the graphics are really good and thanks to the licenses we can enjoy authentic players, stadiums and shirts. Especially the top players have been created realistically (think of Beckham’s earring) but it’s a bit sad that most of the lesser gods are built out of a relatively limited series of models and faces. The animations are top and if I’m right even a tad more fluent and natural than in the previous version. Except for the audience (what’s with the cardboard people ?) there’s nothing to complain when it comes to eye candy. Who would still be in doubt, I’ve also seen the PS2 version and it looked less sharp.
Also something we can start to rely on: the songs from the game are good. A lot of different genres and artists pass the lineup and what’s maybe even more important: also the commentary is enjoyable (especially thanks to the voices of Ally McCoist and John Motson). You won’t no all the lines after 10 minutes but of course after a while repetition does start to come in.
The conclusion is clear: FIFA 2005 is a topgame and up to now the best in the series so it will depend most on your personal preference whether you’ll like this one more than PES which probably scores even a little better when it comes to realism. The FIFA episode is what it needs to be: an evolution of the previous with more focus on realism and gameplay without loosing the traditional strengths of the series. Of course there are always things that can be improved but in the end each footie-lover and arcade sports gamer will have hours of fun with this one