It’s time to hit the pitch in EA’s latest soccer evolution for Wii.
Never one to miss an opportunity, EA is gearing up to bring the most popular sport on earth to one of the fastest selling consoles in the history of video games. FIFA 08, developed specifically for Wii by EA Canada, brings a whole new feature set to the series, as well as some exclusive gameplay modes, that promises to be a compelling package.
While FIFA 08 will use the PS2’s FIFA engine for it’s core, the game has been significantly reconceptualized to make maximum use of the Wii Remote. Players will initially notice the camera has been re-centered to follow the action from a birds-eye view very similar to the Madden and NHL series’ default cameras instead of the more traditional sideways TV-style presentation of the past. EA Canada has done their best to translate all of the complex control options of previous FIFA games into the Wii version and the control breakdown is robust. Players move with the Nunchuk’s analog stick and shoot the ball with an upward swipe of the Wii Remote. The faster the remote is swiped upwards, the harder the ball will be kicked.
After flirting with gesture controls, EA has decided to map passes to button presses. The A button executes a short pass and the B button will deliver a through pass. Players can throw the ball in from out of bounds by simultaneously raising the remote and Nunchuk above their head and making a throwing motion. Players sprint by holding the Z button and can make specific directional passes by tapping the d-pad. Holding the C button and hitting B will execute a lob pass while holding C and hitting the A button twice will perform a one-two pass. If you want to kick an arching chip shot you hold down C again and make the kicking motion with the remote to try and finesse the ball into the goal.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, buckle up because there’s even more controls for hardcore simulation junkies. Players can do a header by slamming the Wii remote downwards, while special juke moves can be performed by holding down the C button and flicking the remote left of right. On defense holding B down will trigger a tackle, and slamming the remote down while holding B will perform a slide tackle. The A button is used to switch players. If that sounds a little overwhelming, there is a Soccer Academy mode that will take players through 30 different tutorial mini-games to practice the controls and learn some of the basics of the game.
FIFA 08 will also use Mii’s for a special party mode called Footii Party, hosted by a Mii version of the game’s coverboy Ronaldinho. Footii Party will offer 3 distinct party games: table soccer (more commonly known as foosball to the pub crawlers in the audience), Juggling, and Kick It. In Table Soccer, Players will use the Wii remote to control the rotating sticks that spin their little foosball players. The orientation and speed of the spin will kick the tiny plastic ball around the table in a straight-forward adaptation of the frat house gaming staple. Juggling will have players flicking the Wii Remote in time to keep a soccer ball in the air for as long as possible. Competing players will be able to toss trick balls and spins at the juggling player to try and throw them off. Kick It, meanwhile, is a take on the traditional shoot-out that allows up to three different players to take turns trying to kick a goal past another player who is tasked with goaltending duties.
Also making the transition to FIFA 08 are EA Family Play mode and Online play. In Family Play, players not interested in learning all the intricate ins and outs of the game’s controls can play with the Wii Remote alone, using simple gestures to control passing, shooting, and tackling while the game AI handles all the nitty-gritty of player movement and strategy. Best of all, players will be able to play against each other regardless of whether they are in Family Play or the traditional control scheme, meaning Grandma might steal a game or two from you if you’re not careful. For online, EA will support up to four players, two per side. It remains unclear whether the game will take advantage of Nintendo’s own Wi-Fi service or, like Madden 08, use EA’s own EA Nation network.
As always, EA will jam the game to the gills with licensed teams, leagues, and players. The game will include more than 570 officially licensed teams and a staggering player roster well over 14,000.
So just how well will it all come together? Footies around the world will have to wait just a little a while longer to find out, EA is scheduled to release FIFA 08 on October 9, 2007.