FIFA Football 2005 (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 29.10.2004

Review for FIFA Football 2005 on GameCube

'EA Sports. It's in the game'. Recognise that and you will most definitely have played at least one of the FIFA Soccer games from Electronic Arts over the past ten years. Yes, ten years – that is how long the series has been going, and yet that is somehow not the amount of versions of the game that have been released. You see, EA is now renowned for milking its franchises to the extreme and has managed to sometimes get two versions out per year. However, the public lap it up and so the yearly updates appear and sell by the trillion. Something must be going right then, no?

No storyline needed here, just pure unadulterated football action that sees you taking control of teams from numerous leagues, guiding players from around the world and aiming to 'score more than your opposing side'. Flick, dribble, dummy, feint and volley your way past world class defenders the likes of Thuram, Stam, Roberto Carlos and, um, Phil Neville! Slide, nudge and just straight out maim attackers like Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to protect your goal line. Get out there on that pitch and play your socks off in the most exhilarating sport on Earth and do it...NOW!

There has always been a lot of effort and painstaking attention to detail put into the FIFA games. Each and every update goes to long lengths in motion detecting in order to get the teams on the pitch looking as close to the real deal as possible. Yet with every update there has always been some sort of problem associated with the graphical aspect. The issue used to lie with the lack of smooth animation when playing the game, with many complaining at how the players would seemingly jerk around and the camera was terribly slow at keeping up with the fast ball. This edition, though, sees none of that, with a certain fluidity and speed of camera that EA can truly be proud of. What EA should be ashamed of, however, is the way that when compared to an unnamed rival football title, the faces of the players resemble those of hideous monsters that appear to have lived for too close to Nuclear Reactors for most of their existences. A mixed bag, definitely, and still plenty of room for future improvements.

Screenshot for FIFA Football 2005 on GameCube

Football games have never been about the music. Never. Never ever. Just look at Human's Super Soccer on the SNES for the perfect example of why commentary is a necessity, whereas cheesy Japanese 'choons' are not warranted in the slightest. However, EA Sports has made it somewhat of a tradition over the past several years to make sure that there is at least on extremely popular anthem leading the way. Blur's Song 2 is one of the most memorable, but this year sees a vast array of musical treats, ranging from the likes of Scissor Sisters, to Morrissey and right through to Gloria Estefan! There is something on the track listing for everyone, something that will at least prevent you from switching on the stereo and turning your TV volume down, and even a few that are there unlock in the 'My FIFA' section.

As for the commentary side itself, things are far improved over previous encounters with the 'soccer' sports genre over the past decade or so, however there are still the regular problems that have dogged older titles and looks like a problem that will only be ironed out in the next generation (fingers crossed). What am I talking about? Repetition. Damn repetition. Whilst the in-game discussion from John Motson and Ally McCoist is on a clear quality, you will soon find that the little snippets of action-talk and prolonged conversation (normally Ally going on a ramble when nothing much is happening during play) can become extremely tiresome when heard for the umpteenth time, forcing your to turn down the volume and stick on some music. A shame really, considering the amount of experience gained in this department over the years, however not a complete disaster.

Screenshot for FIFA Football 2005 on GameCube

There are plenty of football games vying for the attention of the eager public who love the skilful sport so much. However, many are simply left by the wayside due to either a lack of financial backing, advertising support or just because they are completely abysmal and not worthy of anyone's attention. Now FIFA has gone through at least one of those stages and yet still managed to succeed at retail year in, year out. Surely there must be some reason why people keep flocking to the games, right? Well there is, and it is down to the strenuous efforts of Electronic Arts' sports division in keeping the level of realism as high as possible, including all the real world stars, teams and leagues, plus making sure that they are all placed at the right teams at the time of publication.

So you start up the game and what are you faced with? Not too many options it would appear. However, this is because EA has tried to make the interface as user-friendly as possible. Sure, for some strange reason the developer insists on using miniscule text most of the way through, but for the most part things are easy to navigate. Right, so you choices are Play Now (which takes you to a quick match), Game Modes (which consists of Career and Tournament modes, plus the chance to create your own tournament, practice before diving in and load up a previously stored game), create player (which proves nowhere as decent as in Tiger Woods 2005), My FIFA 2005 (where you can change general settings, manipulate how teams play technically and what players are in each side, edit the Jukebox that plays in the background, buy stuff in the FIFA store, check out your trophy room or delete saved files) and the extras section where EA shows off trailers for NBA Live 2005, NHL 2005 and Need for Speed: Underground 2.

But what of the actual football play itself? EA has a track record of not quite getting its FIFA games up to the highest level, despite all of its laborious efforts. This year, though, looks to be another step in the right direction thanks to the Off-The-Ball and First-Touch techniques that are utilised, as well as the tightening of several loose areas that arose in the past and inclusion of special realistic ball physics. These additions are truly amazing and bring the FIFA series right up close to the competition out there. Pass the ball to a player and move the C stick in various ways and you can quickly pull off flicks, step-overs, knock the ball ahead of your opponent and many more skilful moves. Prefer to keep the ball zipping around the pitch instead? No problem! Just tap whichever button you wish to press before the ball comes to you and watch in amazement as your midfielder deftly flicks the ball first time to your winger who is bombing down the line ready to cross to the waiting strikers.

Screenshot for FIFA Football 2005 on GameCube

You see, whereas in previous outings the ball stuck too heavily to player's feet, now it bounces off feet realistically, causes players to stumble and lose their footing and grants the sort of free-flowing game that Pro Evolution Soccer fans have been used to for many years. Something that PES lacks, which FIFA now has, is the spectacular ball physics. It is damn fine to see the ball roll across the pitch and slow in pace depending on the conditions, rather than glide out of play every...damn...time...as if the ground provided no friction in the slightest! Free kicks and corners, however, are not so hot, despite great effort to make them tactically adept, instead they turn out to be rather inept, with a lack of freedom and pure luck determining their outcome most times. The only other complaint, though, is that of terrible goalkeepers that let it howlers on many occasions...but perhaps that is EA's attention-to-detail of real life coming into play again...*ahem*! Overall? Probably the best in the series, but still not a patch of Konami's franchise. Perhaps in the 2006 update...

The question of length when it comes to a game of football is kind of an inane point as you make it as long as you want. Playing a quick match against the computer on increasingly trickier levels of difficulty alone can keep your interest peaked for many months due to the short nature of matches. But then again, it does help if a title adds in a few extras here and there to keep purists extremely happy and this is where FIFA 2005 scores massive amounts of Brownie Points. The ability to jump right into a Tournament and play through a whole season of football in the league of your choice, with your favourite team is such a thrill as you try to out-match the real life performances you watch week in and week out. Then there is the extensive career mode that will have budding managers foaming at the mouth (although Sports Interactive's Championship / Football Manager series obviously blows it away) and entertained until cows come home (I have been waiting quite a while for mine to return...). Throw in the millions of players, teams, leagues, statistics and formations to play around with and already the game begins to swell massively. Then on top of all that is the 'My FIFA' section where extras can be found and the typically superb four-player option that provides endless hours of fun against your mates. FIFA 2005 is here for the long haul that is definitely for sure...

Screenshot for FIFA Football 2005 on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Here we have a difficulty. FIFA 2005 is far and away the best football title on the GameCube, with its licensing, attention to detail and massive amount of features. Yet it still, unfortunately, never reaches the full capacity of greatness that the Pro Evolution Soccer series does every single time. However, since Konami has chosen once more to neglect Nintendo fans, then FIFA is your best bet. Starved of football action and do not own a PS2? Go buy this straight away...

Developer

EA Games

Publisher

EA

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (8 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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