Eight hundred years ago people thought the world was flat. One hundred years ago the world had not seen a world war… A single year ago, FIFA almost caught up with PES. In many departments EA’s flagship title was far superior to its rival however, question marks loomed on whether EA could ever match the fluidity and responsiveness that their Japanese rivals had mastered and supplied for over a decade. There has been much hype around FIFA 09, since the first videos of the game appeared and reports filtered down the wire that the response time was indeed sorted. I personally had the pleasure of flying to Vancouver to witness it for myself at EA’s own studios. I was very impressed with what I had seen.
Yesterday, there was a frantic race online to download the highly anticipated demo that was favourably received by the majority. But surprisingly, it was the population that were impressed that stood out. By now most of you are hammering away at the demo and digging deep to find issues with the game that you want rectified. Well, remember that this is not the retail version; it is simply a demo that gives you a good taste of the game but not the whole experience. For this reason above all, I begged my good friends at EA (you know who you are) to let me get my hands on the latest preview code. I got my chance to play it (on the PS3) yesterday!
Let’s get down to business. So what did I think? Fantastic to put it lightly, compared to the code I played in Vancouver, this game felt like it had been worked on a whole year. The truth is this was only two months work on top. However, in every aspect the game had been improved. Graphics have been sharpened up and look much more appealing on the eye. The player faces have also been improved, along with the level of detail on the kits. Compared to the Leipzig build this one had only undergone a couple of weeks work. But even then I could tell that it was even more responsive. The fans begged for responsiveness… well you got it with interest. The three words I like to use to describe this game are; organic, fluid and composed. If football games were likened to real life players, then FIFA 09 is clearly in the Zinedine Zidane mould.
The collisions engine has been met with mixed feelings by the fans, most of whom still haven’t got their hands on the game. But believe me when I say, once you see it in action and realise the impact it has on gameplay then you simply cant live without it. No more limbs through players! Every ball, every tackle and every header is contested and that in itself makes FIFA 09 even more of a simulation.
The gameplay engine in FIFA 09 feels so different to last years version it is unreal. A very close friend of mine who was hammering EURO 08 all summer claims it’s even significantly different to that in all aspects. One thing that seems to come under fire online though is the ball physics. I feel that the ball physics in this year game are excellent, so will all the moaners please take a deeper look. There are claims that the ball consistently flies over the bar, however this depends on so many factors its untrue. The balance of your player, the timing of the shot, the type of shot and the momentum your player has before the foot-to-ball impact. In a way shooting in FIFA 09 may have become very technical but in a good way. Once it’s mastered and gamers understand how to set themselves and find the best timing/positioning combo’s then it will become a joy. Saying that hitting the occasional hit-and-hope that flies in also feels great!
So what are my thoughts you ask? Well I do have a review on the way at the end of the month prior to release. So tune in to that for my final verdict on FIFA 09. But as things stand… EA really do have an impressive title on their hands this year. One that I just can’t stop playing.