Fifa Soccer 2005 (PS2)

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The 2005 installment of the massively popular FIFA series from EA Sports has just hit the market.  FIFA 2003 was a firm favourite with the lads at ITM-HQ.  Many a night after work was spent fiercely competing for the championship and games were known to go into the early hours in search of the winner.  2003 is by far my favourite PS2 game and I have been pretty much addicted to it for a couple of years now (much to the despair of my partner). 

So, it’s fair to say that the ITM team was very excited to see what FIFA 2005 had in store.  On first impressions the game felt graphically superior to 2003 (which you would expect).  The new user interface was a big improvement and was much quicker and easier to navigate.

New features that add to the realism of the game include first touch which allows you to flick the right joystick and pull off skillful moves to outwit the oncoming defender.  This can make for scoring some pretty special goals (although this is quite tricky to do).

My favourite new feature is first time passing or shooting.  This allows you to choose a pass or shot option as the ball is approaching you and means you get an instant response.  You can pretty much pass the ball from one end of the pitch to the other in a matter of seconds by playing the ball first time rather controlling the ball and then playing it.

There are several other neat tricks like the ability to highlight several pass options at once and control the receivers run using the second joystick.  This seemed tricky to do and as yet I’ve not fully explored this option.  Corners and set pieces are better.  You can push and shove defenders to create space in the box to meet the incoming cross.

Additional game options include being able to manage your own team on and off the pitch and take them through the ranks to glory and success (admittedly I have not had time to give this a good go yet).  As well as being able to create your own player and add him to your team.

The makers have clearly worked hard on creating as realistic a Football experience and in that sense they have succeeded.  The up to date players and teams, the commentary and chants of the crowd all makes for an eerily real game. 

But after two weeks of having the game I’m still not completely into it.  The realism seems to somehow take a way from the enjoyment of the game.  Shooting is very difficult and scoring goals seems a real challenge.  This would usually suck me into the challenge and add to the addictiveness of it all but I just don’t feel as hooked as I’d hoped (my partner is delighted!)

I lent the game to another ITM staffer who is arguably even more addicted than me and the response from him was the same.  Maybe it’s that I’m not winning or scoring as much as I’d liked?  For me the jury is still out on FIFA 2005.  Its many features and tricks will take a long time to get to grips with and in that sense it has longevity and I’m sure would keep you occupied for weeks on end. 

If you’re good at football games and a real fan of the actual game you’ll find this a real challenge.  If you’re an amateur then this is going to probably frustrate you and dramatically expose your lack of skills.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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