FIFA Soccer 2005 Review
This is EA Sports' best soccer game to date on the pitch, but it's really unfortunate that the career mode isn't more user-friendly.
In the world of soccer games there are really only two serious contenders for the championship title at this point: Konami's Winning Eleven games (Pro Evolution Soccer in Europe), and EA Sports' FIFA Soccer series. Like rival soccer teams eager to show off their newly acquired players at the start of a new season, these two series show up with a host of new features every 12 months in the hope that they'll finally score a convincing victory over the other. Traditionally, Konami's offerings have boasted more realistic gameplay, but have faltered in the areas concerned with presentation, specifically the lack of licensed team and player names. EA Sports' offerings, on the other hand, have generally felt a little more arcadelike than realistic, but the games have always looked extremely sharp and they let you take control of real teams comprised of real players wearing real uniforms. The line separating the two series has become increasingly blurred in recent years, and this year is no exception, as both games are still seemingly seeking to emulate the other's strengths. But to set aside the competition for a moment, FIFA Soccer 2005 is definitely the best FIFA game to date.
Every year, EA Sports makes a point of improving one key aspect of its soccer games--FIFA Soccer 2004 focused on off-the-ball player movement, for example. FIFA Soccer 2005 retains all of the off-the-ball functionality from last year's game and adds convincing ball physics (the ball doesn't stick to players' feet anymore) and some excellent first-touch gameplay mechanics into the mix. The ability for you to determine how your players control the ball at the exact moment it reaches them might not sound like a big deal, but its ramifications are extraordinary: playing a realistic passing style of soccer is now more feasible and satisfying; skilled strikers can create scoring opportunities out of thin air by embarrassing their markers with a single touch; and the satisfaction you'll get from humiliating an opponent with just one tap of the right analog stick is almost akin to scoring a goal against them.
Like the on-the-ball skill moves that allow you to beat opponents when you're en route to their goalmouth with the ball in your possession, first-touch controls are all performed by tapping the right analog stick in the direction that you'd like your player to take the ball. The actual animation that transpires when the ball arrives at your players' feet (as well as whether or not the move succeeds) is determined by their position in relation to the ball and their skill level. Some players are able to flick a ball back over their head and turn defenders without even thinking about it or ever letting the ball move more than a few inches from their body, while others will struggle to perform even simple turns without letting the ball stray far enough away from them so that opponents have a shot at stealing it. Also, like the on-the-ball moves, EA Sports has got the balancing of the first-touch controls nigh perfect--they're effective enough that you'll want to use them all the time, but the odds of your fancy footwork failing you are also significant enough that you'll still have to work pretty hard to create scoring opportunities for your team. There will be occasions, of course, when you're able to run a single player through your opponent's entire midfield and defense en route to a spectacular goal, but these moments of individual genius are few and far between--just as they are in real life.
For the most part, the only way you'll be able to beat opponents of similar ability in FIFA Soccer 2005 is to pass the ball around and to successfully pick out players that are making good runs off the ball. If you've played FIFA Soccer 2004, you'll know that many of the best runs made by your players are going to be those that you trigger yourself. Sending other players on runs is as easy as tapping the left shoulder button while you're in possession of the ball, and the system is as effective at beating defenders as it is easy to employ. If you prefer to play an even more active role in the movement of your players, you can actually assume control of a second player using the right analog stick. It's not a system that we've ever really felt the need to use a great deal (and our online opponents have invariably had the same attitude), but it can certainly make it easier to pick out your strikers with crosses into the box--provided you can retain possession of the ball while you're using the right analog stick for your second player rather than using it to perform tricks and turns with your first. While we're on the subject of controlling additional players, it's also worth mentioning that the goalkeepers in FIFA Soccer 2005 are often very slow to come off their line, which, since you can make them charge at the ball manually, is definitely a good thing. There are few things more frustrating in a soccer game than conceding a goal because your overly active CPU keeper was on a walkabout.
The other surprisingly significant improvement made to FIFA's gameplay this year concerns throw-ins, which in many previous soccer titles, including FIFA 2004, have made it far more difficult for the team awarded the throw to retain possession of the ball. EA Sports has effectively resolved the problem by allowing you to use the same off-the-ball controls during throw-ins that you can when in open play. When you're awarded a throw, you'll be able to control any of three players and move them around however you see fit while your opponent attempts to mark you with three of his players. The system is different to the jostling mechanic that has you battling for position before corner kicks (there's still no way to play short corners, incidentally), but it feels quite similar, and it affords you the opportunity to come up with some creative ways of gaining an advantage from the set piece.
- Player Reviews: 30
- Game Universe:
- FIFA 2001 (PS2, GBC),
- FIFA 2001 Major League Soccer (PC, PS),
- 2002 FIFA World Cup (PS2, PC, GC, XBOX, PS),
- FIFA Soccer 2003 (GC, GBA, PC, PS2, PS, XBOX),
- FIFA Soccer 2004 (GC, GBA, PS2, PC, XBOX, PS, NGE),
- FIFA Soccer 2005 (PS2, XBOX, GC, PS, PC, GBA, NGE, MOBILE, GIZ),
- FIFA Street (XBOX, PS2, GC),
- FIFA 99 (PC, N64, PS),
- FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer (PC, GBC, PS),
- FIFA International Soccer (GG, 3DO, GB, GEN, SNES, AMI, SMS, PC, SCD)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: