FIFA Soccer 08 Review for the Nintendo Wii

FIFA Soccer 08 Review for the Nintendo Wii

The Wii Takes on the World’s Game

While most of the country is thinking of the World Series and the Sunday battles on the gridiron, EA Sports has turned its attention to the beautiful game. They released their annual iteration of the wildly popular FIFA Soccer on the ninth of October.

FIFA Soccer 08 screenshot

This year EA has thrown a monkey in the wrench; they’ve introduced motion controls to the title via the Wii remote. The control scheme is by no means perfect and the graphics are sub-par, but it is an excellent game for youngsters and their parents. This seems to be a common theme for Nintendo, and EA has wholly embraced the idea. If you are a rabid soccer fan like I am, I suggest picking up the title for one of the other systems. However, if you are looking for a nice title for your kids that expands their horizons out of the kiddy games and into something a bit more substantial, FIFA Soccer 08 on the Wii could be the perfect choice.

EA’s sports titles are known for their extensive licensing agreements with players and leagues. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in their FIFA titles, and this year is no exception. The sheer number of players, stadiums, leagues, and official tournaments is impressive. Any soccer fan will be giddy with the scope of the licensing. All the national selections you would expect are here too, and setting up World Cup-style tournaments with a round-robin format and elimination rounds is a breeze. It’s unfortunate EA can’t nail down the Champions’ League license though. Other than that, the inclusion of official league cup tournaments is fantastic. These tournaments include, but are not limited to, the Apertura and Clausura, FA Cup, Copa del Rey, and the U.S. Open Cup. The realism the licensing affords keeps the player engaged and FIFA Soccer one step ahead of the competition.

Gameplay and player control are very important issues when talking about soccer simulators. EA has always dominated sales due to the aforementioned lock on licensing. However, they have traditionally lacked perfect gameplay and pinpoint control. The Wii version follows this pattern. I don’t fault the developers, however. The Wii remote’s lack of buttons has made EA Canada get creative and actually complicate the controls by having to rely on button combinations. To simplify things substantially, EA has included two button family controls that do away with the Nunchuk entirely. This is not particularly fun for adults, but it is a great way to engage the little ones and level the playing field between them and their parents or older siblings.

FIFA Soccer 08 screenshot

As far as gameplay goes, AI controlled teammates do not run off the ball well. They’ll always be in good supporting positions, but sending balls through to a striker making a diagonal run is not a viable option. Additionally, gameplay feels slow. It’s certainly easy to go end to end via short passing, but sprinting is little more than a burst over five yards. This can be pretty frustrating when you’ve made a solid feint, gotten past the man, and then have to beat him again. You’ll be better off passing your way into the attacking third of the field.

On a high note, executing advanced dribbling techniques, while initially difficult, is the best it has ever been. Stepovers, 360 roulettes, and change of direction are all executed with a quick flick of the wrist. It can be a bit complicated at first, but once you get used to the button and movement combinations you’ll cruise past defenders. Aerial finishing is also quite easy with the Wii remote. Headers and volleys come naturally and are performed flawlessly by waving the Wii remote up to smash it with authority, or down to finish with precision. All of this flicking and waving can be tiresome, however. Playing several games in a row will lead to an aching wrist. Overall, the control scheme is interesting and original. Unfortunately, the unique format loses its excitement quickly in single player modes and can feel clunky and inaccurate at times. There is also a significant learning curve for advanced controls. This game should be considered a multiplayer novelty rather than a deep single player title. If you do purchase the game, be sure to have some friends over and jibe each other while frantically waving your way to football fun.

FIFA Soccer 08 screenshot

Sadly, the graphics are poor even for the Wii. The stadiums look fairly good as do the movement animations, but that’s about it. Player likenesses, while accurate, look blocky and many are full of blotches. In fact, some of the players’ scalps are clearly visible through their hair. This is an unfinished effect that makes a bad impression. The crowds in the stands are also very crude and add nothing to the feel of the game. Additionally, while the world’s best players’ likenesses are well captured, there is a paucity of second and third tier professionals. This isn’t so bad while playing with English or Spanish clubs, but the MLS athletes are not well represented at all. It’s a good thing the game is not sluggish because it sure is ugly. Contrary to the mediocre visuals, the music, sounds and commentary are very good. EA always does a great job of selecting cutting edge tunes from a wide variety of international bands. Not everyone will like all the tracks, but to be sure, a lot of effort went into song selection and the presentation is crisp and clear. The sounds on the field are fairly standard, but the crowd noises are nice and add to the setting. The commentary is the same as always, quite well done. The same comments are made over and over again, but no developer has yet to solve that conundrum.

As far as game organization is concerned, it is very easy to navigate through the menus. EA has a very user-friendly interface. The infrared component allows the Wii remote to cruise easily around the screen while you make your selections. The rumble feature buzzes perfectly in your hand, clearly distinguishing the various options at your disposal. The clear menu design and accessibility of the game extends to the online interface as well. You will connect to the EA servers, as you do with other EA Sports titles, and have to login or create a gamer account. Online matching, ranking and leagues are nicely done. Regrettably, there is a spot of lag at times. There are also a few too many lost connections that will frustrate a close match. All in all, it is a pleasurable multiplayer online experience that is a good sign of things to come for the Wii.

FIFA Soccer 08 screenshot

Online play is just one of the game modes available to you. If you want to fully manage a club, you’ll have to turn to the other systems. However, the addition of the Footii Party and Challenge modes are nice touches. Footii Party is a set of three mini-games sponsored by a cute, little, bucked-toothed, Ronaldinho Mii. The games included are Table Football, Juggling, and Boot It. Table Football is a Foosball game controlled by twisting the Wii remote as you would on a real table. The controls are a bit touchy, but the game is fun. I especially liked the ability to select the kind of table setup you favor. For example, do you play with angled corners and goalie, or do you do you prefer a three man back line? I grew up with the former setup and was delighted to have the choice. The juggling mini-game is simple but addictive. You’ll have to time the juggling by pressing buttons, swinging the remote, or a combination of the two. The frequency and difficulty of the button combinations increase the longer you last. The competition is broken up into rounds with the player that lasts the longest being crowned the winner. The Boot It game is the weakest of the three. It’s a penalty shootout where the player with the most points at the end of each round stays as the shooter. You get points for scoring goals, stopping shots as the goalie, or by hitting point targets in specific areas of the goal. This game is fun, but the controls are inaccurate, especially while minding the net. All in all, the mini-games are fun, but the number of games should be expanded upon and the existing ones should be refined in the future. The Challenge mode is a very cool scenario-based set of challenges that has you try and best a multitude of difficult, historical situations. The challenges increase in difficulty and are widely varied across a number of different leagues. Challenge mode is the best way to improve your skills in difficult situations in order to prepare yourself for online competition. EA also included a Soccer Academy mode that is a well constructed tutorial. This mode teaches you the ins and outs of the motion controls. Completing the Academy is a must for all gamers to control the game proficiently and get the most fun out of the title.

FIFA Soccer 08 on the Wii is not for everyone. In fact, there are a lot of people who will find this title quite dull. The good thing is that these people probably aren’t interested in picking up the title for their Wii anyway. If you are looking for a new take on an old theme, have children that long to play like their parents do, or simply need a soccer title and only own a Wii, the FIFA Soccer 08 experience is a good one. EA has a lot to work on in the coming years, but the base game they have created is a solid one.


  • A New Soccer Experience: Revolutionary game controls allow you to pass, shoot, and perform skills such as stepovers and drag-backs, all with a flick of the wrist. Dictate the play with new manual controls for through-passing and crossing, or control your goalkeeper in one-on-one situations to deny an onrushing striker.
  • Footii Party: Play three completely unique Party Games exclusive to the Nintendo Wii, hosted by the world’s first Mii professional soccer player, and soccer’s greatest player, Ronaldinho.
  • Join the Soccer Academy: Learn the basics by playing 30 interactive tutorials. Each lesson teaches you how to master the motion controls and perform all the necessary movements to dominate on the pitch.
  • Customizable Formations: Design your own unique strategy to create the perfect formation and tactics, including four-four-two, three-four-three, Christmas tree, diamond formation, and more. Assign roles and move players to the exact position in relation to teammates to undermine the opposition.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 480p (Progressive Scan, Widescreen).

    Players look blocky, blotchy, and unfinished. 3.3 Control
    They make the game unique, but they can be difficult to manage. Your wrist will tire quickly. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The sounds and commentary are well done, and the music really stands out. 3.5

    Play Value
    A fun experience that you can share with the whole family.

    3.5 Overall Rating – Good
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

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