FIFA 07 Final Hands-On

We polish our boots and take a look at the finished version of EA's 2007 football game.

The next update to the FIFA series arrives mere months after the World Cup edition, but the 2007 edition of EA's game looks to be shaping up nicely. It plays quite a different game to last year's iteration, with a more free-flowing and unpredictable style than we've previously seen. We've had a number of opportunities to try it out in the run-up to release, and you can read about the advancements made to the engine in our previous coverage. With the final PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable editions now in our hands, we thought we'd run through some of the other aspects of the game ahead of our full definitive review.

The right analog stick can be used to perform some nice special moves.

One of the more difficult elements to assess during our previous play tests was the management mode. This aspect of FIFA 07 offers a choice of 21 different preset avatars (including four women), who can represent you at any club in the game. It's typical from the exquisitely presented series that you'll first see in the game an officially licensed newspaper report on your signing, but the way that FIFA 07 reacts to the likelihood of your signing is nice. Go for an average club such as Blackburn Rovers as a new manager and the papers will shrug their shoulders, but head to a quality club and British newspaper The Sun will exclaim, 'Where did Arsenal find this guy?'

Dig beneath the surface, and FIFA 07 is no match for a dedicated simulation, but the management mode allows you more depth than simply playing through a normal tournament. All the basics such as training, transfers, and signings are covered, and you can choose to play any of your fixtures or watch them summarised in text form. The main considerations for FIFA 07 managers are quite simple--play your team's star player often to appease the fans and work on finding young stars to be nurtured into the first team. You only have one scout with which to search one country at a time, and while you're trying to find the next Wayne Rooney, you also need to focus on upgrading your backroom staff. There are other minor considerations, such as the ticket price for your grounds and the sponsorship of your kit, but aspects such as training are lightweight. You seem to have a better chance of winning games with a poor team if you play the matches yourself, so if you're going for the management experience, it's best to watch the text-based match reports. Also, you can transfer your 15-year career to a PlayStation Portable and play your game on the move.

Speaking of which, the PlayStation Portable conversion of the game stands up very well against the home console version. However, a few problems with this version are that the new trick system is fairly dependant on the right analog stick (more on that in a moment), a feature which is lacking on the PSP, and the online functionality has gone missing, as well. That said, on the PS2 the online options are comprehensive. The online interactive league lets you take your favourite team through real-life fixtures on a week-by-week basis against players from all over the world. Normal two-player friendly matches can also be set up online, and EA's 'Online Everywhere' technology has been integrated with ESPN to provide streaming fixtures, live scores, results, and even podcasts direct to the console. We'll be testing the online features in depth for the review, so keep an eye out for a full update soon.

Those with a network adaptor will also thankfully be able to update the team rosters with all the major transfers automatically. With the game released on Sony's console so close to the final transfer deadlines, there are a few discrepancies in this version of the game and the current real-life teams (the Xbox 360 version should be up-to-date when it launches in October). Ashley Cole made a high-profile move from Arsenal to Chelsea at the beginning of the season but still plays with his former North London teammates in FIFA 07. Likewise, Carrick is missing from the Manchester United squad, as are Kuyt and Pennant from Liverpool. In the meantime, a simple transfer system lets you send any player from one team in the game to another at the press of a button. You can also create up to 16 custom players and drop them in the game, so you can add any 17-year-old unknowns that happen to sign to your club during the season and even set up a virtual version of yourself to sit on the bench at your favourite club.

Tussles for the ball often result in fouls.

Our play on the full version of FIFA 07 also allowed us a much better look at the new trick system, which has been mapped onto the PlayStation 2's right analog stick. Those ambidextrous enough to use two sticks effectively will find these new tricks to be devastating, not to mention a boost to their ego. To EA's credit, most of the moves can be picked up with intuitive movements of the stick itself. If your player remains still with the ball and you tap down on the pad, the player will gently flick the ball away from the opposition. If you then move the stick in a circular leftward motion, you kick the ball around the other player and run after it. This adds an element of showmanship to the game, and the crowd will react to these taunts you inflict on your opponent.

The right stick isn't just used for lane changes and fancy 360 turns, either. Opponents seem much more eager to jostle for the ball, and while overly aggressive play will usually result in a foul, there are ways to get around them. If you press the analog stick right when making a run, that player will fling the ball farther in front of him in an effort to outrun the opposition. It only really works down the wing when there's no chance of someone intercepting the ball, but it can be devastating when combined with a crafty through ball.

Casual players may be worried by this emphasis on advanced play but rest assured FIFA is as easy to pick up as ever, especially at the lower difficulty levels. While it's too frantic to reflect a real-life playing style, it does promote football basics. Passes now have to be more accurate than before, with the passing player needing to face his receiver to make the most direct passes. If he isn't doing so, the ball will often go wayward or short of the receiver, meaning he has to run to collect it. Again though, advanced players will learn how to direct the ball by holding down the button for different periods of time. Hold the pass button for a couple of seconds and he'll pass to the man farthest away from him, while a quick tap will make a short pass.

Finally, the right analog stick can also be used as a new taunt mechanism for penalty shoot-outs. When you're controlling the goalkeeper, pressing up on the stick will make him put his arms out in that direction, mimicking the psych-out routine that keepers do in real life. You can also now place shots more effectively by holding L2 while shooting, and you can chip the keeper by holding L1. Free kicks have also been adjusted slightly so that you can now bring in a layoff man with R2 and then make him take the shot or pull off a fake.

Like 2006 FIFA World Cup, FIFA 2007 asks you to choose between digital and analog player control, with the other method used for in-game tactical switches. The game lets you initiate counterattacks, wing play, box overloads, or third-man releases quickly and effectively, and if you hold the L1 button down, these options change to pressing formation, an offside trap, zonal play, and a flat back formation.

The Player rosters are correct as of August 27.

On the pitch, FIFA 2007 is comprehensive, and it offers plenty of different ways to play a game of football. The tournament mode lets you create a new tournament from scratch or play through a preexisting league such as the English FA Cup. In the create-a-league mode, there are a number of different options to choose from, including a simple league or a knockout. You can choose to include 8, 16, 32, or 64 teams, and you can extend a knockout league even further by choosing to play through the group stages.

The player lounge mode is, as the name suggests, a more relaxed area in which you and your friends can chill out. Up to eight players can get involved, all choosing their favourite team, and then specific conditions for games can be set. The computer will rank your chances against other teams, and if you find yourself outclassing your opponents, you can give them a two-goal head start. From here, you can keep the games flowing with a number of different game types, such as winner stays on or best versus worse. You can also save these lounge sessions and come back to them at a later date.

This version of FIFA is quite heavily tied into a points reward system, as it lets you not only buy new moves to use on the pitch, but also unlock classic teams and even equipment such as branded footballs. Winning points is tied into accomplishing 102 challenges across nine categories, which you can see detailed and ticked off in a separate menu. The points are usually awarded for winning each of the game's major cups, but there are also endurance challenges such as 5-, 10-, and 20-game winning streaks and scoring 10, 50, or 100 goals. There are also master challenges to get through, which are incredibly difficult tests such as not conceding an offside against opponents of professional and world-class difficulty levels.

FIFA 07 is shaping up nicely, and if we haven't said it enough times already, it really feels like a new game to play. The online features add to an already weighty package, and there are plenty of unlockables and features that we've only just touched on here. Based on our preliminary play test, it looks like the Christmas football battle is far from decided. We won't be sleeping until FIFA has been played to death, so keep an eye out for our full review to find out whether it's worth buying.

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Discussion

38 comments
--michael--
--michael--

it looks good but i hope it doesnt have a long load time like all sports games

Yzzycz
Yzzycz

foley:get over it man.I don't care about your hate towards FIFA .It is your opinion and we don't need to read it over and over again.I can see you sleeping with copy of EVO nicely wraped into your bunny.

jfoley20
jfoley20

The computer never makes substitutions when controlling a team, I just went into extra time and the comp still didn't make a single sub or tactical change.

pashark
pashark

Nice work this year.

jfoley20
jfoley20

Just look at the screen shots all the players except for the superstars have the exact same face, it is realy bothersome and I never noticed it until I played Winning Eleven.

jfoley20
jfoley20

I had purchased every single FIFA game since about 1994 then became a Pro Evo convert about four years ago and have never looked back. The ball physics are far superior and the depth of statistical information concerning players and teams is unparalleled . Concerning the graphics I have come to despise how for the last 5 versions of FIFA a majority of the players in the game are cut from about 5 different moulds (eg. generic bald guy, generic long haired guy ect.) and look nothing like their real life counterpart and there is no way of editing them such as in Pro Evo Plus if you want some authentic licenses and likenesses there are memory cards for the game floating around for purchase on the web and many sites devoted to detailing how updates may be created and downloaded.

ice_blade_77
ice_blade_77

Looks like another "best FIFA yet but not as good as Pro Evo"... is anyone gettng tired of the pattern?

lukey405
lukey405

Actually, Michael Carrick is in Man U's squad in the game....

u2i_l0ver
u2i_l0ver

"get over pes and wining 11 fifa has alwyas and wil alwyas be the best, im getin thsi game and u stingy ppl can miss out coz u stik 2 ur non liscenced povo games lol" Dude, how is anyone supposed to take you seriously when you write like someone with 'special needs'?

lwa02vkc
lwa02vkc

Pro Evo / Winning Eleven will always triumph over FIFA .

A-E-M
A-E-M

manager mode wasnt on psp fifa 06 so the ps2 version of 07s gona be off the chain

A-E-M
A-E-M

get over pes and wining 11 fifa has alwyas and wil alwyas be the best, im getin thsi game and u stingy ppl can miss out coz u stik 2 ur non liscenced povo games lol

Stark
Stark

When i see people saying: Fifa owns because of the real names ect.. I just sigh.. I Actually got a chance to play this game, and i really think it is a GREAT footballgame! And if there was no PES i'm sure i would be playing this instead. There is however a gameline with a little more depth, and much bigger rewards than the ones in Fifa... I like the fact that Pro Evo is easy to learn, but hard to master. And unlike Fifa there is allways a chance that you will loose to a amateurplayer... Just like in real football!

ov3rdance
ov3rdance

fifa 07 gameplay look just like pes6. fifa will be better because of the License, graphic and manager mode.

M1_grand
M1_grand

can some1 tell me how u curve the ball. ive played all fifa games, but confused which way the ball is turning, it always goes the wrong way?

Le-Beave
Le-Beave

I got it on PS2, it's alot like 06, but i'm still impressed....

BigNudeGuardian
BigNudeGuardian

Hope that this game is alot more than just send the ball to the other side of the field and scoring. Realistic gameplay should be the key.

bobby1690
bobby1690

snds good but im a pro fan:P

jharknett01
jharknett01

i own fifa 07 on the psp and on the case,in the manual and in the game it says that the game has infrastructure mode

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Please let me be able to flop anytime I want, that's what this sport is all about.

mechafreak01
mechafreak01

whats wrong with you Calpag and Liam if you read what this game puts more is the moves you can do iv'e seen the official version and iv'e played the demo for Fifa 07and it's better than 06 or Fifa Germany World Cup. Also to mention Evo doesn't do anything like this and Thomas are you stupid iv;e been playing Fifa ever since ever and it's not easy to make a goal from the half way mark of the field ok. When you people learn your facts about the difference between Fifa and Evo, Fifa just win's better graphics and the crowds emotions, and the moves obviously the moves anhillates Evo so for all you Futball ( soccer ) fans out there go with the official game and it's called FIFA 07 ( or any other FIFA )

GTCzeero
GTCzeero

I'm a Pro Evo fan, but I've played this and I must say that it feels good to play. The presentation is spot on, it actually feels like watching a match on the TV. my only complaint is that only some of the recent transfers are present, for example Obafemi Martins plays for Newcastle but Sibierski does not.

kalkhaja
kalkhaja

y the hell didnt they update the team transfers as of sept 1st, WHY AUGUST!

babyeaterwolf
babyeaterwolf

ive played the demo of this, i have to say its kinda crap.....the commentary is much better than pro evo...but u dont get the same kick out of it when u score. Any sense of achievement is washed away by the multitude of confusing controls that just slow down the boring, crappy gameplay.....just stick with Pro Evo IMO

HXCDEW
HXCDEW

Good team like Arseanal lol :roll:.... anyway, looks good but I prefer Evo

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Hmmmm FIFA 7 EVO ARE BOTH DOING THE SAME, THE BESCT EVO in my oppinion was the 1st, the best FIFA in my oppinon was Probabbly the !st Fiffa on the PS2 (Think it was roead to world cup). Big deal they have changed the controls to analog & they have both sussed the garaphics but are probably holding back for the next issue of the FIFFA or EVO Series. I havnt Played a Footy Game Since EVO 1 i found it good but a little hard to get used to the controls, unlike FIFFA wgere you can score from half way like NP :-p I Do want to get a Footy game again & Soon but are they worth it anymore because to me they all just seem more of the same :? Any Of You PLay FIFFA 07 or EVO 3 still, can you post me some good & bad points plz before i make up my mind. THX Tom !

Liam_Uncooley
Liam_Uncooley

I agree with Calpalg it does look exactly the same, what have they added, made different etc.

Calpalg
Calpalg

this looks exactly the same as previous versions

ryuburger
ryuburger

They are removing online from the PSP version? Sucks!

PhantomDX
PhantomDX

hurry up and write a review!!! lol

akif22
akif22

all FIFA has over pro evo is the licences ... i wonder if FIFA will ever have gameplay of pro evo's standard

popwariorwithin
popwariorwithin

so, can you pick a good team like Arsenal from the beginning and not get fired like you would on FIFA 06?

call1
call1

Yeah i want this soooooo bad

DanC1989
DanC1989

I'm waiting for Por Evo 6, thanks. :P

princecas
princecas

i played the demo and it plays nice the right stick moves are amazing