Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: October 11, 2004
The professional sport of soccer, or football anywhere except the United States, is the world’s most popular sport, evidenced by the fact that the American edition has a good portion of the box cover written in Spanish. This is not the sport that goes on in the park and recreational fields or down at the local Y. For one thing, the fields are huge, with 54,000 square feet of playing area. (for comparison, an NFL football field is 57,600 square feet with end zones).
After playing about 10 hours into FIFA Soccer 2005, I learned that the game is aimed towards people with a passion in the sport, not a casual spectator like yours truly.
FIFA Soccer 2005 is amazing in the breadth of the world of soccer that it covers. There are 18 leagues, 38 national teams, and 11,000 players, truly making for a huge selection and adding incredible replayability to the title. This assumes a player can strive to win all of the leagues, let alone with all of the teams.
There are five major games in this title: standard play, career mode, tournament, practice, and Xbox Live. Standard play is a game where two teams play a game against each other, while career mode is the management on and off the field for a period of years. Tournament is playing a league season out or playing in a knockout tournament, while practice just lets the player practice playing the game. Xbox Live is standard play with the online components.
The mechanics of play are the same, no matter which variations of the game are being played. The controls, while not as complex as some games like NHL 2005, still take a significant amount of learning to master. With several complex button combinations, the controls do require some controller yoga and quick fingers to manage the team. There is a significant learning curve, which limits the game for people who just want to rent the title over a weekend, as a good portion of the first few hours are spent just learning how to controller basics.
Graphically, the game has an amazingly realistic look to it, and it is significantly better than FIFA Soccer 2004, since EA had put effort into completely rewriting the game's graphics engine. The close-in shots are just fabulous to watch the players celebrate in victory or sulk in defeat. Also, in a scene I saw often, it is amazing to watch penalty cards being given out. The gameplay itself allows for even more control by allowing the game to be seen from many angles, and with With the HDTV graphics turned on, the graphics become much more amazing.
Audibly, the game is defined by the roar of the crowd and the announcer’s voice. I found it a nice feature to hear the announcer have the accent of the home team’s country. Also, the game has a wonderful soundtrack pulled from the biggest soccer countries of the world, although if that type of thing is not your bag, the soundtrack also allows for certain songs to be turned off. Additionally, the title does not allow for custom soundtracks, but not many titles do.
Xbox Live implements the features that EA added on top of the original framework, with the most notable addition being the EA Messenger, a text-based messaging tool that allows specific users to be sent messages or have a message go to a group of users. Also, there is the EA Sports ticker that shows news and information from EA Sports. They implement the standard cheat prevention to discourage the punks from leaving a ranked game when they are losing, hitting the user with a loss and a disconnect penalty. Considering the amount of times I have had the host disconnect on me in Xbox Live when I am winning, I like that feature. There is no content download to speak of, which I think is a disappointment. Most other EA Sports titles allow for roster downloads, even NHL 2005, and they will not have a season this year.
The game has a feature unlock concept based off of a point system. For an expenditure of a certain amount of points, the player can unlock a feature, like a new uniform for a team. It's not a significant feature of the game, but it is there.
The title also implements the ability to add players to specific team rosters. I used this feature to become a member of the Arsenals, a team that the premier youth team in my area is named after. I find this feature to be just an ego boost to the player.
The most amazing thing that happens in the game is that the weather can change during the course of the match. I found it an eternal pain in the backend, that the whole gameplay changes because the field experiences an English afternoon shower. This adds a dynamic concept to a game where a victory can be robbed from a player due to a wet field.
As stated before, this is a game for soccer fanatics. There is limited appeal to anyone who does not like soccer, due to the complexity of the controls and also limits the playability to children.
The game has decent graphics, sound, and, given the extent of the leagues and teams, almost unlimited gameplay. This is a great game for the soccer fanatics of the world, but has limited appeal for the average Joe Gamer.
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