If You Want to defeat your enemy, sing his song. It may be an Aboriginal proverb, and they probably didn’t have football-based computer games in mind, but the sentiment is relevant. As the rivalry between FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer escalates, they’re in real danger of turning into each other. With early dabbles on PES6 hinting at a faster- paced, more arcade-like game, FIFA 07 drops on the floor and reveals itself to be an intelligent, realistic, absorbing simulation of football.
What this means is that we can’t simply wheel out the usual hollow plaudits about the excellent presentation being let down by simplistic gameplay. What you have this year is the usual top-drawer production values, all of which complement a genuinely excellent game of football. So how have they done that? To put it bluntly, by copying PES. give the people what they want. From the default panned-out camera view to the PES controls -as they’re known internally at EA, where everyone plays PES – the nods towards its arch-rival are clearly evident.
Arguably the major advance however, is in the ball physics – something we’ve been banging on about for years. Amazingly, they’ve finally listened. Whereas previous games have been akin to kicking a bag of magnetic shit around the pitch, in 07 the ball behaves largely as you’d expect a leather sphere full of air to behave. So instead of a set of predictable moves, you actually get a real, organic, live game of football, with the ball bouncing off players’ arses, getting hoofed off the goal-line and being scrambled round the penalty area while you buck wildly on your sofa.
While a few flicks and trick remain, much of the superfluous crap such as sending players on runs has been cut out, and success is largely down to playing decent football. As such, this is arguably the first FIFA game that makes you care about the result with the huge variety of goals being greeted by jubilant celebrations. ‘This Is The Season,’ claims EA. For once, we have to agree.