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First Impressions: FIFA 09

So I’m a few days into FIFA 09 now and I’ve had a chance to – excuse the pun – tackle a lot of what it has to offer and so far I am not regretting my switch from Pro Evo one bit.

From the traditional season through to the Be a Pro mode and on to Live multiplayer I can’t say I really have any complaints. Players are responsive, play is fluid and the game is another step in the series’ movement away from the high-scoring pinball football of its past.

There are moment when I forget myself and think I’m in a FIFA from a decade ago, trying to charge my way through defences or shoot from 30 yards on certain angle but never to any joy.

The biggest challenge I’ve found myself facing so far is that of the Be a Pro mode. I’ve chosen to be a midfielder in the current Spurs team and it’s proving to be a bit of a slog. Whilst I can track back and help out on the defensive side, the rest of my team seem unable to score or even willing to pull the trigger in front of goal. With my limited forays upfront and my lack of skill when faced with the onion bag I don’t think we’re going to push for the league title this season as so far out of seven games we’ve drawn six, won one with a debious penalty and only scored another solitary goal from open play.

My traditional season is fairing better with my team in a European spot. I still struggle in front of goal but this version of FIFA brings out what I loved about the Pro Evos of the past: it allows you to string together some swift, cutting play that you’ll want to watch again and again and again, or it’ll sit you back and let you lump the ball forward all day long for a lofty centre forward. What it won’t do is make it easy when under pressure so you do really need some space to make a difference, just like in the real game.

Of course, if you do have a moment of magic you can always capture it, upload it and then replay it again and again and again.

Pretty sweet finish, eh?

Do you “FIFA”?

So what did you take away from TGS? Anything monster?

Back home I’m still without a Xbox hard drive and I’m twiddling my thumbs, relying on a storage device that is only just large enough to hold my profile and a Halo save game. It’s a good job my copy of FIFA 09 appears to be lost in the post as I don’t think I’d have room to save out a season’s campaign even if I wanted to.

Why are they using

This year the classic choice of FIFA or Pro Evo has swung in EA’s favour, for once. It’s been a good few years since I’ve bought into their highly polished version of the beautiful game but with all their leaps and bounds forward, compared with Pro Evo’s continuing insistence to neglect to fix up niggles that have plagued the series for years, I’m happy to invest. Play seems smooth and natural, and for as much as I have the greatest respect for Konami’s efforts they just haven’t evolved enough, in my opinion.

Continuing on from my enjoyment of UEFA 2008’s multiplayer, FIFA brings with it what can really only be described as a clan system. A whole squad of you and your friends can get together, form a “club” and then up to ten of you can play online at the same time in the same team. Obviously this could be disastrous and I initially had visions of a school playground where players would flock after the ball like birds in migration, but when executed well with a group of competent team mates it does have tremendous potential.

The sticking point may be which team we adopt as I’ve seen one friend obsess over Cheltenham town, we have a Cardiff support in our ranks and Spurs aren’t exactly setting Europe alight this season. We may have to go for some neutral ground… Spain or Brazil, maybe, as a compromise.