Hmmm now how shall I start this review, normally this is the hardest part for most journalists, how to begin the article. Scratching my head as I ponder in thought I then realize why it is getting more difficult to know what to write. Oh but then it hits you like a nasty shock from a PC power unit, yes it all becomes clear in a sort of hazy way.
The difficulty stems from yearly releases of certain EA games. The Fifa series is one of those yearly events that are as regular as someone who drinks plenty of prune juice.
Oh well maybe not that regular, but close enough. So Fifa Football 2005, you know the one after 2004, 2003, Euro 2004 and World Cup 2002.
If anything is really going to make an Xbox gamer smile about this release that the earlier ones have simply ignore has now adorned this title with a nice shiny stamp stating ‘Live Online Enabled’. Yes lets get this little gem out of the way first. Anyone who has played Burnout 3: Takedown will be more then a little concerned that Fifa 2005 will have some of the same problems with the online play. This however is not the case, you are just left to concentrate how you play and that eventual thought of how to win with that rather special strike of the ball.
All in all Fifa 2005 online mode is perfection. Response is generally really good and you will not notice much difference to that of the single player reactions when you tap the controllers’ buttons. The only minor issues are the jittery menus when connected to another user over Xbox Live and the slight pauses when the ball goes out of play. Another issue you might find a problem is you are only allowed to face one opponent. This is a 1 versus 1 game. It would have been nice to have 2 on 2 multiplayer with three friends, but hopefully next year hey.
Graphically the game is still up there in the high marks area, however one area that is still lacking a little for me is player hair, looks so dull and unexciting. Plenty of styles, but very little detail. The stadiums and crowds look fantastic although you will not notice that much increase from the previous version, still something that shows how nice Fifa can look. Weather effects are still woefully inadequate with the rain nothing more then a few noticeable lines on the screen with no impact on the pitch. I want to see mud visible on the pitch and puddles even, instead it is extremely pathetic and hardly worth having a raining mode at all. Sunshine can also be a problem as you are almost dazzled beyond a joke as the pitch becomes a glare from your nightmare.
The camera now sits very tall above the action, which allows for some cunning passes and through balls without guessing too much who will be on the receiving end. I prefer this so much compared to the almost on top of the player approach. You will not be able to appreciate the player detail now until you get a cut scene with a celebration and the like, however it makes the game much more calculated and much less hit and hope.
With a new Fifa game, we usually get a few extra player moves, and this year is no different. Although you might be surprised to hear that it is something you will use almost all the time. Now after indeed picking myself up off the floor after that statement I will tell you why.. Fifa Football 2005 has a feature called ‘First Touch’. By utilizing your right analogue stick you can control the ball far greater then ever before by a simple flick of the stick in your chosen direction. Conning the defense has never been so much fun, but do not be fooled into thinking you will get an easy ride to the penalty box as the defense artificial intelligence has been enhanced so much that you will really need to use this new feature to its full potential to even get a look-in.
Also new this year is the Career mode and again this is no gimmick. Enjoy an incredibly long 15 seasons, now remember how many games there are in one season including league games and tournaments and multiply that by 15 and you have a colossal number of games to dig your teeth into. Manage a basic team to start with a progress unlocking points to enhance your staff such as your ‘medical’, ‘finance’, ‘scout’, ‘fitness’ and the regular ‘striking’, ‘goal keeping’, ‘defense’ and ‘midfield’. All the time checking your confidence meter. If you lose a lot of games and this gets to a low level, you could face the sack which certainly piles the pressure on to get results. You can play the matches yourself in traditional Fifa style or simulate by seeing a very speedy version of the match with a simple page that displays the highlights of what is happening on the pitch for you to follow very similar to Championship Manager.
Look through the Transfer Market, but and sell players and there is more. To further push you to use this mode you can unlock extra pitches, team kits and even music. This mode is pure genius for its simplicity and fun factor. Just as Fifa gets online there is a great reason to stay offline and enjoy the superb Career mode.
Blimey there is still more, just look how many teams there are.. 18 leagues, 38 national teams and a whopping 11,000 real players. Certainly makes you think does it not.
Commentary has again not improved much at all. John Motson still sits on the throne of greatness, however commentary mistakes are quite common and now Motty makes this weird ‘uphh’ sound randomly which is just a useless bit of sound to have.
By far the best Fifa to date and just when they needed it. Online is pure fun with friends, but offline this title has a new surprise up its sleeve and this is the Career mode which has surprised me completely. If you love Fifa you can not go wrong with this latest release.