|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4, 2-20 Online||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The new online features in 09 include the Adidas Live Season and BAP: Online Team Play. The Adidas Live Season feature, similar to NBA Live 09s Dynamic DNA, allows you to update real-world player form. However, unlike Dynamic DNA, the service updates weekly rather than daily and is available only for an additional fee. Having to pay for current player form is discouraging. Nevertheless, gamers can update player form from any or all of the following leagues: English Premier League, French Ligue 1, German Bundes Liga, Mexican Primera, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A.
BAP: Online Team play is a neat mode of play, though it suffers greatly from selfish ball hogs. Players can hop online and join a match with 19 other people. These ten Vs. ten matches are cool because you get to see a lot of great tactics being employed off the ball; human players are constantly making great runs. Regrettably, there are always a few players who decide theyre better than everyone else and hold on to the ball too much and waste these brilliant moves. As a result, BAP plays a lot like Be A Pro except you have absolutely no control over how the ball should be moved or when it should be shot. Also, because the game has to match 20 people together, lobby waits are long and you may experience some lag if enough people have poor connections. Nevertheless, there are always people participating, so its easy to find a game. And, getting friendly with locals and demonstrating your ability may allow you to join a virtual club (much like clans in shooters) to vie for the top spot among the FIFA faithful.
The visuals are amazingly crisp. The stadiums, players, animations, the pitch, signage, etc. all look fantastic. It is extremely easy to get lost in this beautiful title. The only jarring aspects are the pixelated crowds and the often inaccurate look of key players that have yet to get the fully realized facial tuning. Case in point: Marcos Senna of Villarreal. Heck, the entire squad at Villarreal is woefully depicted.
The sights and sounds of the game are of very high quality. Andy Gray does an excellent job of color commentating, Martin Tyler complements Grays insight well, and the crowd noise is spot on. Unfortunately, the selection of global pop, usually such a standout feature of FIFA titles, seems to be less dynamic. Dont get me wrong, the list of titles is varied, but it seems that the selection is far too difficult on Yankee ears. In fact, localization seems to be a problem throughout the title. The folks at EA Canada have simply made one UK-centric English edition of the game and havent bothered to tweak the song lists or spelling for the unshackled and unkempt colonials.
As is usually the case, FIFA 09 is yet another sterling entry in their line of footie titles. Tweaks to gameplay and the silky smooth HD visuals do make for the most convincing offering yet. Nevertheless, the old mantra still applies: There arent enough new features to make this game substantially different from last years effort. If one were to apply transitive logic, it would mean this years title is essentially the same as that from two years ago. Thankfully, transitive logic doesnt exactly hold, as the cumulative effect of the minor gameplay tweaks does result in a more refined experience. If you havent played FIFA in a while, nows the time to jump back in; this is a great game of soccer. But, if youre an old hat to the series, the most compelling reason to purchase FIFA 09 may only be the roster update.
CCC Editor / News Director