FIFA Soccer 09 Review for Nintendo DS

FIFA Soccer 09 Review for Nintendo DS

Don’t Pass On This Game

If you play sports games, then you know that it’s not often that you’ll experience a lot of improvements in a particular series from year to year. Upgrades are marginal at best, if you can call a new roster an upgrade. Sometimes, it’s best to wait a few years, so that you’ll really notice a difference, but that kind of patience may not be possible if you’re a fanatic.

FIFA Soccer 09 screenshot

Fortunately, FIFA Soccer 09 for the DS is a much-improved version. It’s going to be a hit with both hardcores and weekend warriors. If you’re looking for a good sports game to play on your DS, then this game is guaranteed to score big points with you.

What I noticed about FIFA Soccer 09 is that the gameplay is very focused. This game appears to have a lot of bells and whistles, at least in terms of modes and features, but it’s a very cohesive package. It defines itself not by quantity but by quality. The actual gameplay is so engaging that you won’t be bored looking to see “what else” the title has to offer. There are no real novelties per se, just a good solid soccer game. Keep in mind, it’s not a very complex game, this is a handheld machine and we can’t be expecting next-gen miracles. However, it’s got more depth than what you would expect from an arcade-style game, but it’s every bit as fun.

Of course, there are other elements that contribute to the engrossing gameplay. It just wouldn’t be any fun if it didn’t control well, or looked like a Salvador Dali painting. A new game engine has been designed to deliver more realistic graphics, incredibly smooth animation that runs at 60 fps, and a simple and responsive control system; all of this and a four-player multiplayer mode to boot. This is definitely one improved game. It makes me wonder just what EA can do to top this next year. We might have to sit this series out for a few years after this upgrade.

Similar to the new and improved graphics, the gameplay also attempts to capture as much realism as possible. Popular players are included complete with their special skills and attributes. Some are brutes on the field and can jostle the ball from smaller players, while other are fast and lithe and are capable of outrunning and maneuvering some of these big baddies. Other players such as Frank Lampard are incredibly accurate with their aim at a distance. Accessing these players at the right time allows you to exercise a degree of strategy. There are of course the run-of-the-mill players that have no discernable advantages, but they do act intelligently.

FIFA Soccer 09 screenshot

Interestingly, the A.I. for both sides does a great job of anticipating and reacting to situations on the field in real time. If you’re running, you’ll find a mate or two by your side guarding you or waiting to receive a pass. Your opponents also play a good game, so you’ll have to watch out for them as well. As long as you can stay out of the thick of things, you’ll complete more passes without interceptions. You’ll also be less prone to losing the ball due to jostling from a larger opponent if you can steer clear of the crowd. It’s simple, the more opponents that you’re surrounded by, the more chances you have of losing the ball.

Passing, crossing, shooting, running, jostling, intercepting, and deking are all part of the moves set which are easy to access and very responsive. A lot of the credit has to go to the graphics and animation, in addition to the ball physics, which combine to make things appear and behave realistically. You can make much better real time judgments when you can actually gauge/predict the results of specific shots. A meter appears over players’ heads allowing you to see exactly how much power to put into a pass or shot. This will keep you from over-shooting the ball to a teammate, and risk having it intercepted. It’s another example of the refined control system that gives you a greater deal of control and accuracy.

FIFA Soccer 09 screenshot

Virtually every team you can think of is on tap, but it seems that the create-a-player mode, named Be A Pro, is the hit mode of this title. You can choose an existing player or create one. The goal is to improve your player over five seasons.

FIFA Soccer 09 screenshot

The focus of the game changes somewhat dramatically in this mode, as you’re no longer responsible for the entire team. You are only responsible for your player. The camera actually reinforces the concept of this mode by focusing more on your player. You are required to play more independently but still work within the team framework. A certain amount of skill points are available at the outset of the mode allowing you to choose the assets that you’re most comfortable with. More points and skills will be acquired through experience and good play. Your reputation will grow over the seasons, and hopefully you’ll become a sports hero.

Graphically, the game is incredible. The players have faces, and they are recognizable. The improved framerate makes some of the animations appear motion-captured. Details in the arena are unbelievable, even the crowds come alive. It’s easier than ever to keep your eye on the ball, since it follows a logical path and is not interrupted by framerate issues. You can not only see where the ball is going, but you can anticipate where it should be going.

The announcing is not perfect. He’ll occasionally say something irrelevant, but, for the most part, he’s on the ball. You’ll hear talk on the field, the cheering of the crowd, and a ton of rocking tunes. There are more than 40 tracks in all. An online mode lets you play with three other enthusiasts. I did notice some lag and some framerate issues, though nothing too severe. The A.I. is so good in the single-player mode that you may not be able to tell the difference.

FIFA Soccer 09 is a must-have for sports fans. The simplified touch screen control system ensures that everyone will be up and running in no time with plenty of moves at their fingertips. Don’t pass on this one.

Excellent realistic graphics. Smooth animation with realistic physics. 4.8 Control
Simple touch screen controls are easy to access. Lots of moves to work with. 4.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Lots of tunes. Plenty of ambient noises. Good announcing. 4.8

Play Value
One of the best sports games for the DS. Gameplay is relatively deep and very engaging.

4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • 60 Frames Per Second: Double the frame rate and over 100 new animations deliver more responsive, intelligent, and realistic physical action. Players move more fluidly around the pitch, deliver beautifully placed passes, and snap off precision shots.
  • Be A Pro: Pick a professional player or create a player and test your ability. Master positioning, improve your attributes, and develop into an elite player. Cooperate with up to three friends fixed to their player on the same team or go head-to-head as rivals with a single cart and local multiplayer.
  • Real-Time Feedback: Track your performance in every match in real-time with in-game feedback and a final rating. Earn skill points to develop your player into a national legend.
  • Penalty Shoot-Out Mode: Experience the elation and agony of a penalty shoot-out as if you were on the pitch. New shot animations add a variety of new shots to your arsenal to strike the ball past the goalie. Master your nerves to score the goal that wins your team glory.
  • New Slide Tackles: Defenders now have the ability to execute slide tackles to interrupt passes or block shots in addition to winning challenges.
  • Contextual Shooting Control: Deliver precise, skillful shots around the box or use your power to blast away from long range.
  • Online Play: Challenge your biggest rivals across the world via Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection.
  • Single Card Play: Go head-to-head against a friend who has another Nintendo DS in a Single-Card Play wireless match-even if they don’t own the game.
  • Complete Authenticity: FIFA Soccer 09 features over 500 licensed teams and 30 leagues.

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