|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
The vivid onscreen graphics, handheld control scheme, matches short enough to kill some time whatever situation youre in; Ive always felt soccer games work extremely well on the PSP. You dont have to be a lunatic soccer fan to appreciate how the sport and its atmosphere translate to video games, and FIFA has consistently offered fantastic simulations to represent and recreate the beautiful game. But for anyone who may not be a complete football head, how much each edition has to offer is an annual dilemma more casual fans are faced with.
As for what new features 09 has to offer from recent years, the biggest highlights are its Be A Pro: Seasons mode, its Casual Controls setup, a few new moves added to the list, and an updated animation system. With the release of a FIFA title every year and other EA soccer games such as World Cup and UEFA European Championship, one of which is released every two years, the difference between them all becomes hard to distinguish. Those who havent picked up an EA soccer title in recent years may definitely want to check this one out because, on its own, FIFA Soccer 09 for the PSP is a fantastic game.
Developers have implemented a few new offensive and defensive moves to add a bit more variety to the controls, but essentially its the exact same FIFA weve played in the past. Shielding is introduced to the attack game using R1 or combined with the analog to stop the ball and shield or push your marker. There are new advances in the faking controls to include a fake throw and a fake first touch to pull off before you make contact with the ball. The scoop turn, heel-to-heel, and step-over roll are crafty new skill moves that can be used to school an opponent online or sitting next to you.
In an ongoing campaign for family-friendly play by EA, theyve introduced Casual Controls to FIFA, similar to Rookie Mode in Madden. It simplifies the game so much that controls consist of nothing more than hitting X to pass and Circle to shoot on offense, and X to switch players and Circle to slide tackle on defense. Players are on auto-pilot, which means theyll run and get the ball all on their own with you having only to make their passing and scoring decisions. A.I. works pretty well in this mode and scoring is extremely easy, though anyone who has played any EA soccer game for more than one match will find little use for Casual Controls.
The biggest addition to FIFA Soccer is the Be A Pro: Seasons, which is similar to Be A Pro modes found on other recent EA Sports titles. You take on the roll of your favorite player or create your own to progress through an entire four seasons and improve, building skill levels along the way. In the case of FIFA, your character will be able to do things such as call for a pass or shot and manage the entire team, playing as one player on the field. Be A Pro uses a third-person camera view when playing as single-player, which would be the vast majority of people playing on the PSP. The problem with the camera view is it is somewhat boring playing one position, especially if youre on defense. Much of the game involves watching the A.I. control the ball from your perspective, though it does offer a completely unique way to play the game. Youll have to time your running to avoid being caught offside on rushes on offense, and defensively youll have to hold down your turf and make sure youve got opponents covered.
Other modes make a return this year including the lengthy Manager Mode, Tournament Mode, and the wildly entertaining Challenge Mode with mini-games to occupy your time. There is a whole lot to do with FIFA 09 with replay value in spades. There are also a whole lot of teams included in the game, mostly from European soccer leagues I have never heard of. North American soccer fans will enjoy the inclusion of all 14 Major League Soccer teams.