FIFA Soccer 08 (Wii)
Are you ready for some Futbol? EA Sports is as ready as ever, and once again FIFA brings soccer action to living rooms everywhere. This year's game debuts on the Nintendo Wii, but it isn't the same game as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions at all. It's not bad, but it's also nowhere near the achievement you'll find on other systems.
EA Sports created an all-new control system for the Wii, called Advanced, which works okay. It's hard to get around the fact that the Wii remote and Nunchuk aren't exactly intuitive tools for soccer gaming. In Advanced mode you can move your player with the Nunchuk stick, run with the Z button, and swipe with the remote to pass, pass through or shoot. You can even finesse your shot a bit by moving the remote up or down. The alternative is the new Family Play mode. Family mode uses only the remote and takes over most everything but shooting and passing. This lets grandma play, and win, and for that reason we hope EA continues to experiment with this concept.
As far as graphics go, these guys look surprisingly good considering the Wii's limited graphics capabilities. Your favorite players don't play like carbon copies of each other. They play like individuals, and many of the stars move eerily like their real-world counterparts. All 30 licensed stadiums look real, the field looks green and lush, and play is super smooth.
The soundtrack is fun -- mostly Euro-dance tracks -- and Martin Tyler and Andy Gray handle the commentary. As always, commentary grows repetitive fast, but these guys are pretty entertaining to listen to.
FIFA offers decent online play, as well. There are interactive leagues and custom leagues with fewer teams and players. There's a wealth of databases tracking your performance online and you can use ESPN Soccernet integration to keep up with the real-world version of your favorite team. On a broadband setup, online play was a bit laggy, but there weren't any dropped connections. You can even challenge fans of your favorite team's rivals to matches prior to real-world matches. All scores and results are tabulated, and just before game time the 'winner' is announced. It gives one the feeling they're helping their club, even if only in a small way.
Missing in the Wii version are the Xbox 360 and PS3's excellent new trick modes and the Be a Pro mode that adds so much to the experience. But the Wii version does have a Challenge mode that tasks players with entering and winning historic games. For example, try to beat Manchester United by scoring in under 2:00. There's also the Ronaldinho-endorsed Footii Party mode, which offers a handful of mini-games. It's typical Wii mini-game fare: There's a ball juggling mode (use the remote to juggle a soccer ball) and one called Boot It! that works as a shootout mode. These are mediocre, but the four-player version of foosball (they call it Table Football) is fantastic.
FIFA 08 comes to the pitch in a kinder and gentler way -- which just might be a good idea for the casual fans that comprise the bulk of Wii owners. Just be aware that if you're lucky enough to have more than one console, the Wii version is lacking a bunch of features available for the bigger systems.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.