If there were a book that listed everything Americans cared about, professional soccer would probably be 400 pages in, wedged between goat cheese and “Becker” reruns. David Beckham flew across the pond trying to pique our interest in the sport, but after his ankle injury, the public became more interested in his abs and fembot wife than anything else.
Nothing, however, has encouraged our soccer interest more than the “FIFA” series, and this year’s iteration is a perfect example of why. Now in its third season on Xbox 360, you can almost see each individual gap in Ronaldinho’s goofy smile, and really, how much better can a green soccer field look from 100 feet up in the press box?
Having reached what seems to be its graphical limit, “FIFA” has spent the previous year putting every club on Earth into the 2008 edition. That’s right: 30 leagues, more than 600 teams and about 16,000 players – insanity. There’s no conceivable reason you’d ever be some of these teams, unless maybe you were on them in real life, but that you can if you want to is surprisingly reassuring.
“FIFA 08” continues with its exceptionally technical control scheme, and the minute differences between a chip pass, a chip-lob pass and a chip-lob-through pass are just as miniscule as ever. And you’ll spend at least half an hour trying to (correctly) learn how to rainbow the ball, which is the greatest in-game skill move of all time.
The computer A.I. can range from own-goal impaired to teams that appear to be made up entirely of Cristiano Ronaldos on crack. Playing against friends is always entertaining. Nothing is more intense than an overtime penalty kick shootout, which usually results in something getting broken. The game is just as fun as it ever was, and with a few new moves and modes and an avalanche of new teams, everything from the World Cup to the loading screens are enjoyable.
Only a few may like soccer here in the states, but try rainbowing a ball over a goalie’s head and not cracking a smile.