By making some small changes to the gameplay and overhauling the
career mode, EA Sports has turned a good “FIFA 2004”
into an even better “FIFA 2005.”

TV/New Media Reviews
Damn, they reissued “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain?” (Courtesy of EA Sports)

The most notable change to this year’s installment in
EA’s soccer franchise is the increased realism of the
gameplay. Whereas in past games, balls stayed glued to
players’ feet at some times and it was easy — almost
expected — to inadvertently boot balls out of bounds, this
year’s “FIFA” corrects those types of problems.
The ball physics are true to life and give players more realistic
— and maybe a little less — precise control than in
past “FIFA” editions.

EA has also added a “first-touch” control to the
game, meaning the user can touch the right analog stick in any
direction when a pass is on its way to a player, and the player
will tap the ball in that direction. This feature is useful when a
defender is overplaying the offense to a certain side.

In addition to the tweaks to the gameplay, EA has made some
solid improvements to its previously lackluster career mode.
Players can manage the “career” of a head coach, and
then pick a team to guide. Players choose a region of the world and
then are given a number of second-tier programs to choose from.

Options are plentiful as the user can assign attribute points to
its coaches and staffs, consisting of the striker, midfielder,
defense and goalkeeper coaches. Points can also be assigned to the
fitness, medical, finance and scouting staffs. Wins in the season
accumulate points that can be added to these eight areas to improve
different aspects of the user’s team.

Players can measure how well their team is doing based on their
“job security” meter, which dips up and down with wins
and losses. By running a team well and winning on the field, the
user can improve his coach’s “career” and move up
to the better teams in the game, like Manchester United or
Liverpool.

One new feature of season mode is “FIFA’s”
“simulate” game option, which adds a unique element to
the typical videogame simulation. The gamer can watch the game
clock as text comments flash on screen describing the action, in a
style almost like an Internet gamecast. At any time, the user can
“intervene” and pick up the game where the on-screen
simulation left off.

While this feature is great for players who simulate
infrequently — imagine how fun this feature would be in
“NCAA” or “Madden” — it gets
irritating for users who want to simulate chunks of games at one
time.

Overall, the improvements to this year’s
“FIFA” further polish an already outstanding game, and
both die-hard soccer fans and casual sports fans alike should enjoy
this one.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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