Normally I'd start a review with a big build up about history, story, plot, context and where the game finds its roots etc, etc... Well, this one's nice and simple. If you don't like football, or football games then stop reading and go spend your money elsewhere. Its not like there's a shortage of games around to buy at the moment! Believe me, its bad when the only thing keeping me from declaring my wallet bankrupt is that I don't have the time to play them all!
Right, now they're gone it's just me and you... You understand the beautiful game, you know that if I say greatest goal ever scored you're not going to mind me saying for me it's between Paolo Di'Canio's Volley for West Ham or Marco Van Bastens Unbelievable strike in the Euro's against USSR.
So are you here because you want to see if we agree on our opinions of this game? Are you here to see if you should swear allegiance to FIFA over PES? Or are you just wondering how 09 compares to 08 and what improvements have been made?
Its been said many times that Football is the beautiful game, and every year its a two horse race to see who can provide the closest example of this in the virtual stadium.
A few years ago PES was the undisputed football king with EA's FIFA series lagging a distant 2nd, it just didn't cut it. Then with FIFA 07 they completely re-imagined the series and built it again from the ground up, creating a more realistic simulation of football to separate itself from PES's more Arcadey feel, so much so that apart from the subject matter, you're almost dealing with two completely different animals now!
Let's start at the beginning with a simple overview of this year's iteration of FIFA. Quite simply put, they've improved over last years by working on the basics and creating what comes close to the best football game I've ever played.
EA have been shouting from the rooftops that they've made 250 changes to the core gameplay of last years version, the most obvious of these that you'll pick up on within seconds of your first game are, they've made it play faster (you don't feel like your players are underwater anymore), they react quicker, they tackle better, they pass the ball better, they are more accurate with passing play, all in all, I still make mistakes in this game but I no longer feel like I'm not in control and that I'm incompetent. I know that the mistakes I now make are mine and that things don't work for me in-game because I'm just not that good at the game! But I'm getting there, and it's really enjoyable to try!
Graphically its not a massive leap from last time, with this Gen of consoles we're getting the best graphics we've ever had from games and sometimes its easy to forget that they don't necessarily need to have improved as games develop, granted Facial likeness's are better than ever now, and players are much more recognisable as ever-so-slightly caricatured versions of themselves, even down to their animations of how they run, stand over dead-balls and how they hit it.
Where 09 has made strides forward (excuse the pun) is within the animations off the ball and in the general flow of the game. You'll actively see players pointing where they want the ball played before they make their run into the space, when you receive the ball facing the wrong way, with a quick flick of the left stick you can change direction with a backheel, turn or even a quick kick-up over the head and you're away. Everything feels fluid and real, it doesn't feel scripted, it feels like they're movement and their skills are totally on the fly and completely unique.
Weight and build has been considered now within players build. Hulking Defenders now carry their appropriate weight, knocking down nippy wingers and winning jostles a bit easier. You also have much greater control while vying for a header in or out of the box and overall it makes you consider who's on the ball and what they're up against a little bit more. Its something I'd been hoping they'd add but didn't think they'd get it quite this right!
A nice touch that has made it into FIFA 09 that first appeared in the Euro Champ 08 game is the ability to customise your goal celebration. Dependant on a sequence of buttons that you press once you've scored your man will either quiet down the fans, slide to the corner flag or backflip his way down the touchline. This feature, although simple, does give you some serious bragging rights online when you hit that 89th minute winner and top it off with a gymnastic celebration!