In theory, Nintendo’s Wii was designed for sports games. The combination of spastic gyrations and random button-mashing makes the system’s controls the ideal format for the interactive aspects of physical sports. And yet with the exception of EA’s “Madden” franchise, the Wii’s motion-censor controls seem to convolute the games rather than make them more enjoyable, and “FIFA 2008” falls to just that flaw.
The sheer physics and rules of the game present the first problem: soccer uses your feet; the Wii, your hands. As such, EA had the difficult task of translating the motions of the sport to your hands while keeping it realistic, and, most important, entertaining. And though most would think this impossible, the company pulls it off with relative ease. To shoot: a flick of the wrist up. To pass in a specific direction: hold the pass button and toss your wrist that way.
The real issue with the controls comes down to the various different actions they try to employ. With a finite amount of buttons, the game requires countless multiple trigger actions. You can spend more than an hour trying to master the tutorials and still be baffled by the game’s basic functions.
As such, EA’s “Family Play” mode allows you to ignore most of this, focusing on shooting and passing. Certainly a way to avoid the compounding control system, it drains much of the fun out of the game.
But in EA’s defense, it has been doing everything in its power to bring the Wii into relevance (read: online gameplay). “FIFA 2008” is another EA release that has an excellent Web version with very little lag and constant action. Unfortunately for anyone who wants to play as the L.A. Galaxy, you’ll run into countless opponents who play as Manchester United, giving them a serious advantage.
The graphics are stellar and the gameplay rather realistic. For soccer fans, “FIFA 2008” is a must-have. For everyone else, continue to ignore “the world’s most popular sport” and just pick up “Madden 2008.”