The world cup has come and gone, and EA is again counting how much it made from the world's biggest sporting event and the new seasons upon us. So here we are again, the wheel comes around and we see a new FIFA and Pro Evolution game hit the market. Do I sound jaded? Perhaps, as it is hard to fathom how we need another FIFA just three months after the World Cup game, but it is here and, surprisingly, it improves a large amount over the other FIFA games and really is starting to give PES a few worries.
Of course we are being a bit tongue in cheek with the introduction, and no doubt some gamers do feel like this, however EA has worked very hard this year with FIFA and other than Madden, it is probably getting the most love from the developers in Canada right now because of the big gargantuan Pro Evolution series. Although, FIFA 07 does have a distinct feel of evolution rather than revolution and it seems we will have to wait until FIFA 07 on 360 or FIFA 08 to really get the next big thing from this series.
EA haven't added too much to the game side of things this year, rather choosing to focus on other options and improving what was already there. The management side has been improved and there is a few more custom options which probably aren't as fleshed out as many gamers would have liked. Season and Exhibition modes are of course present and it is possible to manage a team rather than play with them which is interesting considering EA has a management game, it's as if they are making competition for themselves.
The main mode puts you in the shoes of Mourinho and Wenger and that is the life of a football manager. If you ever thought that it was an easy job, FIFA 07 will shock you into reality. You begin with a small club in a lower league having to impress the board, reach goals and hopefully get spotted by clubs in the premiership who can then lead you to premiership and European success. Where you choose to begin your career determines just how far down the pecking order you start. It's an interesting format which is unique to the genre and really is the only fleshed out management simulation that allows you to put your destiny in your own hands, that is, take control of the players during the games.
That brings us to the game itself and how it plays. Overall the improvement from 06 is minimal and we were quite disappointed, especially as EA is boasting a new physics engine and new animations to find. It has improved but it still pales considerably to even Pro Evo 5 let alone the new version due in a few weeks time. There are times where the game does amaze us in its life-like nature, but most of the time we think we're playing FIFA 06 with a bit of new paint. However, when the animations come out to shine, they really do shine and it's a shame that the rest of the game does not portray this jaw dropping feature well.
Other than that, FIFA is pretty much what you've come to expect. All the big licenses are featured and EA has gone to great lengths to make sure the game is up to date and you can perform in-game transfers to keep the game up to date during January and next years transfer window. There were a few changes that EA have implemented as well such as Arsenal's change from Highbury to Emirates Stadium which gives you a new field to play on but really we are clutching at straws to see what is new in the license side of things as well.
However, it's not all gloom for the FIFA series as EA have come up with one of the most ambitious and interesting online formats we've seen in years. Basically you take part in an online league which reflects the real world leagues and your score, along with every other score that week, determines who wins the match and the table. It will be interesting to see how the tables look in comparison to the real world once the season finishes.
Visually the game is disappointing but does the job. We're really surprised that EA kept the PC version on the same engine as the Xbox and PS2 when the next generation 360 title is only a month away. PC gamers can feel robbed by this because there is no doubt the PC could run the 360 version adequately. With that said, the game does have very good visuals and are improved upon last year but against the 360 it's going to look rather dated from what we've seen. Commentary is provided by the usual team and the soundtrack is again one of the highlights with EA again producing a superb list of tracks which fit the sport very well.
FIFA 07 may seem like a poor game in our eyes going off what was said above but its not. It's just a massive disappointment that EA has decided not to update the PC title to the Xbox 360 engine, leaving that until next year at the earliest. If you simply can't wait for 360 or don't own one then the PC version will do, but for those who have the 360, wait, because it will be worth it.