FIFA is the longest running video game footballing franchise. Some ten years ago they lost their place on top of the video football pile by new upstart Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). Hard work and innovation have now seen a resurgence in FIFA's critical reception. Testament to this is the ground breaking Wii version that (along with Madden 09 Wii and Tiger Woods 09 Wii) now includes their All Play controls to wider the experience (and audience further).
Sports games recreate a wide variety of real life competitive games. Depending on the sport, these will either have an action or strategy focus. Popular sports games are often released on an annual basis, each year the game receives new player rosters and game improvements.
FIFA 09: All Play is unique because of its controls. While providing the well known and loved FIFA football experience it provides the player a variety of control options.
The All Play mode enables younger and novice players to take part in a game using just the Wii-Mote. The game itself looks after player movement, so you can concentrate on swinging the Wii-mote at opportune moments to pass or shoot. This really does meant that anyone in the family can play FIFA together, and with up to four people being able to play at once this FIFA turns into a genuinely social experience.
The Advance mode provides more proficient players the usual controls over their team plus the new point and pass technique. Here, players use the Wii-mote's pointing ability to accurately direct a pass. Rather than relying on the computer to work out an appropriate angle when the pass button is pressed, this lets the player accurately pick out other players.
The motion and pointing controls is some instances replace a more varied scheme of buttons. The effect is a more direct and simpler control scheme. In fact EA have simplified these controls since FIFA 08 Wii where you had two different motions to shoot (finesse and power). Here you simply waggle to take a shot and the game decide what type of shot is appropriate.
The game offer the usual one off and league competitions. This time out they have added a great eight a side version of football. We have seen attempts at this in other games like Sport Island Wii or EA's Playground Wii, but it is only here that the game still feels like football. These little eight a side games not only use the full controls of the main game, put also use Mii's for each player (including a well crafted Rooney and Ronaldinio) that give the action a fun five a side feel.
Players looking for a new FIFA experience will be first drawn to FIFA 09 on Wii. The ability to play alongside mum, dad, sisters and brothers (regardless of their ability) adds a lot to the overall experience. Once acclimatised to the simple set of Wii controls there is a real sense of experimentation and creativity to the play. The reduced number of buttons creates an understandable arena in which imaginative play seems to flourish.
Executing a one-two with simple Wii-mote pointing, then running onto the lay-off with Z held down is something else. Jinking past the last defender with a tap of the D-Pad and banging in a shot with a whip of the Wii-mote is then the icing on the cake. Top this all off my your Mii's appearance once the shot goes in and the experience is something pretty special.
You can set games to last anything from five minutes to half an hour. Once you have spent a bit of time working through the tutorials (something that shouldn't take much over an hour) you can play FIFA 09 for as long as you like.
To progress through the leagues is more of a commitment. But failing that you can always knock the computer up for a quick game, or jump online for a ranked or friendly game against real people.
It's not often we can say that a game really caters for super young players, but of FIFA 09 this is certainly true. Youngsters and novice gamers of all ages can take part via the All Play controls.
Intermediate players looking for more control will appreciate the innovation of the point and pass controls, as well as the sensibly simplified shooting.
Experts may baulk at the lack of control options when compared to FIFA 09 360 and PS3 versions, but the more adroit will agree that the ability to play with a wide range of friends and family more than make up for this drop in complexity.