Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: October 3, 2006
Ah, soccer. Won't you ever make a huge smash in these United States? Or will you forever play second fiddle to the popular American football and baseball? Electronic Arts, not to be dissuaded by the lack of popularity of soccer, constantly brings us an excellent game year after year. Now the seventh FIFA title released on the PlayStation 2, FIFA '07 has a lot to live up to. Can EA possibly improve upon the six preceding titles in the FIFA series? FIFA '07 is certainly an excellent soccer game — one that even casual soccer fans can dive into and enjoy — but it falls slightly short of being perfect.
Chances are that if you are a soccer fan, your team is present in FIFA '07. There are over 510 teams to choose from, representing 27 leagues. Each one has the appropriate uniforms, logos, and player rosters, which is probably the most realistic representation of worldwide soccer ever portrayed in a video game. It is absolutely incredible the amount of choice that you have when selecting your team. If you have the desire to pit an outstanding British club against a mediocre MLS team, you can do so. If you want to play a match between two Turkish clubs, you can do so. Of course, if you can't find anything to like about any of the teams portrayed (doubtful), you can create your own club.
The presentation of FIFA '07 is certainly excellent. Just as incredible are the different modes of play that are offered for gamers to try out. If you want to manage your team to a championship cup, you can. Just watch out for the press and fan reactions to your decisions and how your team plays. An incredible addition to this year's title is the Interactive League, which lets you play online with your team against the fans of their real-life opponents. Follow the team's scheduled games, and play when they play. Of course, you can just play a friendly match online as well.
The gameplay in FIFA '07 is very, very good. There are a few places where things don't live up to expectations, but for the most part, the soccer is great. When the goalkeeper kicks the ball away, or when there are other long passes, a small yellow triangle appears on the screen to indicate where the ball is going to land. While the ball is in flight, you'll have to maneuver your player to be in the best position to gain possession of the ball. On defense, this means pushing the offensive player so that he misses the ball, and on offense, this means backing the defender away from the ball so that he doesn't have a chance to intercept. It adds considerably to the amount of strategy involved in playing.
Another upgrade for FIFA '07 was the ball physics, which are now far more realistic than in previous years. Top spin, back spin, deflections, and handballs — they are all in the game, and they serve to add a dose of reality to soccer in its video game form. The trick stick can be used to perform fancy maneuvers that can help give you an edge on your opponents. Signature moves can be performed by the more skilled and famous players, which gives you an incentive to pass the ball to them. Teams that work well together will definitely have an edge on teams with less chemistry, as you can really set up some nice scores.
Scoring in FIFA '07 seems to be just a bit too easy, as some of the goalkeepers don't perform up to their abilities, letting lightly tapped balls go right by them when they have ample time to block the shot. It's quite annoying when it happens to your goalie, but not so much when you take a shot from downfield and it goes in — you'll likely get a huge thrill out of such an amazing shot. Still, the only real way to keep this from happening once you figure out how to score against your opponent is to up the difficulty level. Of course, when you do this, the game gets more difficult on all fronts, which may not be the best option for all players.
The visuals in FIFA '07 suffer from the lack of powerful hardware backing them up. The fields and players are decent enough, but nothing too spectacular. Animations for the players are very realistic, which helps to make the game quite pleasant to look at as you drive down the field for the score. After scoring, your players celebrate in typical soccer fashion, running around the field with arms raised or tackling each other in joy. After a particularly brutal tackle, you'll find the referee marching out onto the field to hand out a red card, and the player will protest vehemently in vain as he is sent off the field. Moments like this are captured quite well. The only real flaw that I can find with FIFA '07's graphics is that when you're playing in widescreen mode, the framerate stutters noticeably at times. This is definitely not a good thing, especially with widescreen televisions becoming more popular as time goes on.
If there's one thing about FIFA '07 that absolutely nails the soccer experience on the head, it is the sound. The crowd is utterly insane and cheers, chants, and yells when you move the ball down the field. If you've got a decent sound system, you'll want to turn it up to hear the bass booming and the crowd going berserk as you score a goal. It is rare in a game to hear subdued announcing, but the announcers in FIFA '07 don't talk too much, which is nice. EA has included their infamous Trax here as well, and depending on your taste in music, you may find it pleasing or terrible. The sound on the field is near perfection, and soccer fans may find themselves thinking they're actually there.
Multiplayer matches in FIFA '07 are a lot of fun, and with the inclusion of the Interactive Leagues online, you'll have a goal to work toward in your battle for domination over soccer fans all over the world. Soccer is definitely a sport that is more fun when shared with another person, so playing online or with another person in the same room adds to the experience considerably.
The final verdict on FIFA '07 is a good one. The game of soccer has never been so complete, with so many teams, leagues, cups, options, modes, and everything else that you can possibly imagine. There are some minor issues with the gameplay, mainly involving the goalkeeping, and the graphics, with the dated models and stuttering widescreen framerate. If you love soccer, or just love playing a good sports game, FIFA '07 certainly has a lot to offer. If you like playing against other people or by yourself, whether in single games or lengthy tournaments, managing the team or controlling it directly, FIFA offers it. There is no reason that FIFA '07 cannot receive a recommendation for fans of the sport everywhere.