Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FIFA 2005

Fifa 2005: Greatest Soccer Game Ever
Review By DeAdMaNRoLliN

The Fifa franchise of EA Sports, after 8 years from the release of the first game, stands in a position from where it cannot be toppled very easily. Very few games have managed to remain on the top favorites list of gamers for such a long time. Every year, we think that "nah..this game can't get improved..EA has done it all", and EA comes out with a new Fifa game, which surpasses all expectations and takes the gameplay and presentation to newer heights. Such was the story up to 2004. For several reasons, Fifa 2004 was a disappointing game. But Fifa 2005 is a different story.

GRAPHICS: If you talk about stunning visuals, Fifa 2005 has it all. Even on low end graphics cards, the game looks gorgeous. Some glitches do appear, from time to time..but they can be eliminated by scaling down the details to some extent. Moreover, it is very much expected that EA will release a graphics patch for fixing this issue. All the big names, teams, stadiums are clearly recognizable. EA has the official license to all Fifa names, so everything has a television like presentation. The pre-game sequences, mid game analyses, replays, post-game celebrations, goal celebrations, everything looks amazingly realistic. It is not that much unusual to stop and wonder.."Is this a game, or am I watching TV?". This is indeed a remarkable achievement for EA. I still have Fifa 98 with me, for nostalgic purposes. Now when I look at the two games side by side, one aspect that has advanced leaps and bounds is the graphics. If you run the game in full detail, in a powerful PC, you will thank yourself for buying that gorgeous graphics card of yours. Most people buys new graphics cards for FPS games, but I believe Fifa 2005 can be a good enough reason for getting a Radeon 9800.

SOUND: The sound, as always, is as realistic as it can get. The chants from the audience, the shouts from the players, the commentary, everything is done with precision. However, the commentary does get a bit erroneous, at times. This happens mainly due to skipping replays, or a too drastic change in the course of action. That is, maybe Team A had the ball for a quite long time, and suddenly team B grabs the ball and instigates an attack, and the commentators keep on talking about how good Team A is! Once Team B scores a goal, John Motson and Ally Mccoist gets back to their job. This year around, both of these cool dudes have new tricks up in their sleeves—new expressions, new phrases, new catch lines, which is all good treat for the fans of the great sport. I would love to put up some quotes here, but that'd spoil the fun for those who are planning to get the game.

The soundtrack list is huge, and there are a good number of catchy tunes. However, there's no flagship or “big” song in the list, apart from a Dido number. In 2003, we had Avril Lavigne, in 2002 it was Gorillaz, in 99 it was Fatboy Slim, in 2000 it's Robby Williams, and lastly, in 98 it was Blur with song 2. This is a disappointment, but the number of soundtracks won't disappoint most, and there's “something for everyone” in the mixture. As an added bonus, there's a third party software that lets you import your favorite Mp3's into the game, which is an awesome experience.

GAMEPLAY: Gameplay is good as ever, with the retention of familiar moves, tricks as well as some new ones. I am a Fifa purist, and I don't use some of the gamepad friendly moves. You can score awesome loads of goals through only using a few buttons, i.e. pass, shoot, long pass, player run, sprint, etc. There are lots of hidden moves like chip shot, fake shot, as well as one touch control. People who'll get bored over the usual goal scoring tricks will find these advanced techniques quite useful. Moreover, in higher difficulty settings, the only way to beat a goalkeeper in a one to one situation could be the usage of a fake shot.

I have deducted one point from the gameplay element because the AI follows some unusual passing behavior, from time to time. As an example, it can be seen a lot of times that despite of having advancing forwards, an AI midfielder suddenly decides to pass the ball back to a wingback, or someone lagging behind. If the pass receiver applied a long shot towards my goalpost (a cross, or whatever), this behavior could have some sense in it. But, this looks quite bizarre.

When AI is lagging behind by a goal or two in the first half, it will definitely come back with more aggression in the second half. This is a good thing to watch. The team balances are quite realistic, which means you will find it really difficult to hit the target with a team like Piacenza from Italian Seria B, against the likes of Roma or Juventus. Applying the same speed and using the same angle, Del Piero will hit the target more, compared to Piacenza striker Simone Pepe. Player stats are realistic, and get reflected in the gameplay. Having one good midfielder can change the outlook of a team. This is more prevalent in the Season mode.

GAME MODES: You get almost everything here, from exhibition matches to a 20 leagues and a number of cups. To add icing to the cake, you have the option of creating custom leagues and tournaments. The concept of combining management aspects in Fifa games was first seen in this years Euro game (Euro 2004). In Fifa 2005, you can play a 15 season quest for becoming a 5 star manager. You start off as a zero star manager, and you can only take up a 2nd division club. It's a challenging game, where you start off with a mediocre team, inaccurate strikers, and dwindling budget. You will be given a number of coaches, e.g. Striker coach, fitness coach, etc. After each game, based on your performance you may or may not receive points. You can spend these points in upgrading these coaches, and your team's performance will be affected accordingly.

If you don't spend points for your medical staff, your injured players will take more time to heal, which might cause you to field a tired team. You will have control over two player stats, straightaway. These are fitness and morale. If you field a team with demoralized players having low fitness levels, you can't expect good results from them. Passes won't be accurate, shots will go disarray, the opponent's slightest challenges will make your players fall down—there are too many aspects to see. All these make the season mode a very intriguing affair. I recommend this game to any footy enthusiast, only because of this mode.

Management geeks can play the “Football Fusion” mode, where teams, games and settings can be interchanged between “Total Club Manager 2005” and “Fifa 2005”. Though I haven't tried it yet, the concept sounds interesting. The only reason for me not liking management games is that I can't get involved with the actual game. I buy the players, train them up, and then they play like idiots—this is something I can't stand. But in Fifa, you can make them play the way you want them to.

Buying and selling players is allowed twice a season, and it's pretty simple. You only get a few messages, and in the early years, keep yourself prepared for heartbreaks because players will often turn down your offers, as you are not a prestigious manager yet. It takes approximately 60 games to end a season, so it's a huge game. After each season, you will get offers from your existing club and or other clubs, depending on your performance.

In a nutshell, there is every reason for one to actually pursue the game for 15 seasons, amounting up to a whopping 900 matches! To make life easy, you can simulate any game in between. But there's another bonus here—you can intervene the simulated matches, at any point of time. You will see commentary of the game as texts, as games are being played. This is a common way of showing games in Football Management games. If you see that your team is 2 goals down before half time, you can play the next half and win the game. You can intervene any time, but once you start playing, you have to play the rest of the game. This is not a very essential feature, but multiple intervention-simulation situation could've made the game a bit more interesting; in this aspect. Usually in a season, you will play the league and an additional 2/3 cup challenges. You get bonus points for winning points, which you can use for unlocking bonus items.

EXTRAS: You get points by winning games with 5+ goals, winning against rival teams, winning cups, etc. and you can use these points for buying a number of bonus items, which don't sound that interesting in paper, but is actually quite a nice touch. As an example, the night version of most stadiums featured in the game needs to be unlocked, and these stadiums all look absolutely gorgeous in the night. You can also unlock the famous referee Collina, and also a few classic soundtracks and alternate jerseys for your favorite teams. This is a good bonus, because in season mode, it is natural that you will get bored over seeing the same team with the same kits over and over. An alternate kit can alleviate the pain, to a great extent.

Another extra feature is the “create a player mode, where you can customize almost everything, starting from player stats and ending up to the slightest details of hair, eyes, etc. Creating a player with your own name and physical attributes, and buying him for Manchester United does sound a great idea, doesn't it?

OVERALL: In recent times, Fifa is facing stiff challenge from Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven, and many say that Fifa is an inferior franchise. I played PES3 and the demo of PES4, and my two cents is, Fifa can't be matched. Maybe PES has some nice gameplay touches, but Fifa is more realistic, both in terms of gameplay and graphics. I will prefer Fifa over PES any day. If you ever liked a soccer game, you should get this game. Even if you need to upgrade your PC, you should get an upgrade.

SYSTEM: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PC, XBOX, GameCube, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone, Gizmondo, N-Gage



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