FIFA Soccer 08 Hands-On

EA unveils its soccer debut on the Wii, and we've got the first look at the game.

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EA Sports' long-running FIFA Soccer series is practically a lock on every new game system that makes its way to the market. After all, soccer is perhaps the most popular sport in the world. So while it's no surprise that the game is making its way to the Nintendo Wii, what is unexpected is how the development team has tailored the game to create a soccer experience that is unique on the Wii. During a visit to EA Canada, we had a chance to see a beautiful work-in-progress version of the game and how it is shaping up on the Wii.

The irony of creating a video game centered on hand motions, which is based on a sport that focuses almost entirely on the player's feet, hasn't escaped the development team behind the game. It's a big part of the challenge for developers to make the game familiar to long-time FIFA players, as well as Wii owners who may have never played a soccer game before. Although the controls weren't finalized when we saw the game, the basic system was easy to get used to: The Nunchuk is used to control a player's body, with the analog stick used to control the direction the player moves; the Z button is used for turbo running and to put spin on the ball once it's kicked.

However, the Wii Remote is used for the other primary functions of a soccer player: passing, shooting, and the like. To pass the ball, you hold down the A button and move the Wii Remote in the direction you want to pass. Crosses or lob passes are executed with the B button and a directional gesture. To shoot, you simply gesture upward with the Wii Remote, and the quicker you move the remote up, the harder the shot. You can also twist the remote during your kick to add some spin on the ball. When on defense, the A button is used to switch players, and the B button is used for checking an offensive player or throwing a tackle. To throw a hard tackle, you hold down the A button and flick the remote in the direction of the player you're looking to bring down. A throw-in is executed just as you might expect: by making a tossing motion with both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk (though, unlike in the real sport, you won't be penalized for leaving your feet).

To accommodate these new controls, the default camera view has been moved to a north-south view. This is similar to how you might play in Madden NFL, as opposed to the traditional FIFA sideline camera. Playing with this view takes some getting used to, especially after having played in the traditional view for so long, but it doesn't take too long to recognize the logic behind the decision. Because the gestures for such things as passing and shooting are direction-based, it makes sense for players to be facing the same way as the athletes they are controlling.

Beyond the new controls, the Wii version of FIFA 08 will feature revisions and tweaks from the previous versions of the series. This includes an increased focus on defense, such as the ability to let you take manual control of your goalkeeper by pressing the minus button on the Wii Remote. Controlling your keeper is fun, even though we found that we weren't nearly as reliable as the computer when it came to keeping balls out of the net. Besides that, you can expect tougher defensive artificial intelligence throughout the game. In addition, producers said that virtual players in FIFA will include the same traits they exhibit in real life, so players who tend to take long shots frequently will also tend to do so in the game.

Much like Madden NFL 07's debut on the Nintendo console, FIFA 08 will include a number of minigames that--collectively known as Soccer Academy--will introduce you to the various mechanics in the game. These range from passing basics to corner kicks and more. They should also be a good option to play with friends.

Graphically, the game is looking closer to the PlayStation 2 or Xbox version of FIFA than the more visually impressive versions found on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. The player models animated well, though they weren't as detailed as we might like. That said, the game seemed to run at a solid frame rate, even though it was only about halfway complete at the time we played it. The best news of all is that the Wii version will include all the teams and players found in the other versions of FIFA 08. So, odds are, your favorite team and player will likely be represented in the game.

Translating a game played with the feet into one that's played primarily with the hands is a tall order. But if the developers behind FIFA Soccer 08 can capture the same lightning in a bottle that made Madden NFL 07 such a fun game on the Wii, we'll all have something special on our hands. We'll have more on FIFA 08 in the coming weeks, including more information on its minigames, in the near future. So stay tuned.

Discussion

44 comments
Acyberexile
Acyberexile

sounds great actually, I hope they can pull it off so we Europeans can have a nice sports game on Wii. :P

stonerose
stonerose

Havent played a fifa in about 10 years, i want to see videos of this, showing the game in motion for me to decide

Buttmonkey9000
Buttmonkey9000

I'm not so sure about it.... It's a good idea but i'm far too used to playing FIFA with a control pad...

JBucc
JBucc

This sounds cool. I've never been very good with a traditional controllers in soccer games, primarily with the power meter. Too bad I don't have a Wii.....

placi69
placi69

Then, looks like I can play FIFA, too?

Britesparc
Britesparc

This looks really interesting. I've been wondering how they'd tackle (ho ho!) FIFA on the Wii. Interested in getting my hands on it...

emerald101
emerald101

Theyve actually made it sound quite fun!!

CLeRKSfan4life
CLeRKSfan4life

Looks quite good, though I'm not really in to Football games. Well, except for American Football.

rizzy_boi
rizzy_boi

i quite like fifa even tho im a pro evolution person myself. if dey can pull this off well with the hand controls for a football game then i will definately pick it up jus to get a new feel. das wat da wii is right? nu experiences?

daveg1
daveg1

i would tie the wii mote to my feet and run around my room doing dirty tricks and putting swerve on the ball.....lol

Python_Devil
Python_Devil

its gona be kinda akward but fun. props take me 2 mins to learn then ill be the best

glasgow_dandie
glasgow_dandie

This sounds like fun, fun, fun. Controls will take time to get used to but multiplayer with friends will be hilarious. So much effort will be needed. Cant wait.

galerian86
galerian86

the shooting, passing and crossing sound troublesome

Lord_Alan
Lord_Alan

Graphically not as good as the 360? You don't say! What's next, lamenting the lack of Live support? I think for a football game, precise control is a lot more important than adding waggle. Who plays football with their hands, anyway? In what way is that more immersive?

GrimBee
GrimBee

I can see why people would not like this idea. But I think penalty shoot-outs would be AWESOME on the wii. You - as the keeper - would be facing the striker. Wiiremote in one hand, nunchaku in the other. You would then move your hands like a keeper would to save the ball. Something like this can make the game even more interesting because, lets face it - except for a facelift there is no reason to buy a new fifa game. The game has played basically the same since 1996. Even then this was based on footie games from YEARS back! I think, on paper, this idea sucks - but if it is done in the right way, aslong as the ball goes where you want it - I can't think of a better game. Football, after all, is all about precision and control. So I hope the controls are top of the class, giving the player their own unique style. Something which was lacking in football games was giving each contender their unique style. Basically, you grab the pad and move the players about. It was never about using your skill, it was about choosing the best players and using THEIR skill. SImply get near the goal and shoot... But with the wii remote, I HOPE that they can give you precision on your shots so that each oponent you face will be an entirely different game. :D

wiidominance
wiidominance

There are two directions currently in the Wiimote universe. 1. Simulation, like tennis in wiisports or fishing in twilight princess. 2. Fancy controls, This might not be as appealing as the former, but for some (me for example) its more fun and engaging than a tradtional controller. If the fancy controls of the Wii turn out to be successful they might become the standard in the next generations. A proper football (soccer) game for the Wii is big news, after all, its the most important game for millions (apart from the U.S.). This could be a big hit if it turned out well. They really need Online on this one, If mario strikers had online this ought to have it as well..

fartys
fartys

i dont usually buy fifa games i just play them over a mates house but this really does look promising, i was so fed up of the old fifa's by 2005 so i hope this turns the tide.

mighty_shark
mighty_shark

It sounded good until I read the part about having to move the wiimote upwards to shoot.

clarkeyboy21
clarkeyboy21

Kinda hard to think how you would play it hopefully mostly buttons but some motion sensing.

burge999
burge999

wii or ps3 version of the game i dont no ps3 because of better graphics better gameplay just better overall xbox gamertag:burge999 ps3 gamertag:burge999

Keith4Chelski
Keith4Chelski

Playing Fifa 08 on a Wii *shivvers* doesnt bare to even think about but it sounds horrible

jammakane10
jammakane10

why do they have to use all of the american terms? its tackling, not checking.

GrimBee
GrimBee

This sounds kinda fun. Only because football games have now become far more complicated. It makes the game more fun, if you know what I mean. Aslong as the controls are responsive enough that is. It will be like playing subbuteo or something heh heh heh. The bad thing about console football is that as the game becomes more detailed, you get more controls to concentrate about. Just by holding one button down and swaying the wii remote totally eliminates like 4 seperate button presses. With football on a traditional pad - I would presume that you have this "hold x (or a) until the meter goes up, then release, holding required direction". This is all great, but whilst others are concentrating on the game on screen on the wii, using their own motions to power the attacks - the console pad verterans will be looking at those power-meters in game. EIther way, each version has its plus and negative points. Imo, its great to have such diverse gameplay options. I only hope that the classic controller option is there for this too.

KingKoop
KingKoop

"I think FIFA will be bought for the 360 instead cos' it'll look graphically sweeter on the 360 as oppose to the Wii" - That's what a mate said. WTF? How fun will the Wii-mote be?

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

I hate football games, but might actually get this one, the wii is different, I like different

NintendoWarrior
NintendoWarrior

wat about dribbling? this could be a really good game if u could use the wiimote or nunchuk to do tricks and stuff

se14kid
se14kid

...i don't like the sound of the controls

thk123
thk123

sdcazares1980: Skuad_Knight: "They should add an option to play with the classic controller..." Agreed. I don't, what's the point of getting it for the Wii if you are just going to play it normally. If it is coming to the PS2 and Xbox, you can get those quite cheaply. Also, is it coming to the GC, because that will be cheaper, you can play it on the Wii with a normal controller.

macca2222
macca2222

"Strap the Wii remote to your foot lol!" i thought about that but youd need an extension on the nunchuk cord as well as alot of other changes so i dont think you should be LOLing at all its not a bad idea. As long as safety meausures are taking so the remothe doesnt end up enlodged in the screen

sdcazares1980
sdcazares1980

Skuad_Knight: "They should add an option to play with the classic controller..." Agreed.

JiminycricketX
JiminycricketX

Sounds like fun, though I'm more excited for Mario Strikers 2. The controls sound well implemented to say the least. It sounds like, unlike most Wii ports, that these controls will simplify things rather than make things confusing.

dicktruth
dicktruth

"Soccer is perhaps the most popular sport in the world" Perhaps, haha. Bravo!

d-suhiti
d-suhiti

Will probably have the last gens engine - and not the PS3 and X360 one, so a definate pass (no pun intended) for me. Will get the 360 version.

Skuad_Knight
Skuad_Knight

They should add an option to play with the classic controller...

corredordebolsa
corredordebolsa

It's looking very nice but i just hope not to get tired moving my arms during the whole game...

bluezy
bluezy

Yeah, Nintendo Power's preview convinced me to get this. This preview only solidifies my decision.

renger6002
renger6002

I saw a preview of this in Nintendo Power. I'm getting pretty hyped for this game

JuarN18
JuarN18

Yeah! finally something about wii's fifa 08 ... with online and decent graphics this game will rock!