FIFA 09 Review


My FIFA backlog is finally near the end. It’s been a long journey but a hype one nonetheless. I can’t really say that my skills have evolved much over this period of time but what I can say is that the older FIFA titles do seem to be more fun than the new ones. At this point they start to become really similar though as there is really nothing separating 09 from 10.

When you boot up the game you’re given a whole lot of options. You’ve got the usual play now, franchise, online matches, training, etc. There’s always a lot of options in these sport games and so long as you enjoy the gameplay then the replay value is basically limitless. So as it all boils down to the gameplay lets talk about it. I feel more confident with my kicks and passes now and the arcade style gameplay definitely makes it more solid.

As it’s a team based game you always want to keep track of everyone on the field. Your passes and kicks must always take them into account or you’ll get the ball stolen. At low difficulties you can definitely get by on quick passes and then shooting the easy goal, but on higher difficulties that’s just not going to cover it. You’ve got to pull off a lot of maneuvers. I definitely still think that FIFA is one of the toughest sport games out there. NBA and Madden I can handle a lot of the difficulty levels, but on FIFA it’s just so hard to land a goal. Playing defense is easy, but on the attack side I can easily go a whole game without scoring.

So, this isn’t a “pick up and play” kind of title. You will need to put in the work and learn the mechanics quite well if you really want to succeed. In a way this is pretty nice I suppose. At the very least it doesn’t feel hopeless like in some of the other FIFA titles. You always feel like you’ve got a shot at the very least. After all, since you’ll be holding the opponent to only 1 goal at most you can always try to bring it back. Plus I do feel like I can always fire off a shot even if I don’t get close enough for it to matter. In the newer FIFA titles you also have to account for direction and power more which makes it very difficult to get the goal.

As with FIFA 10 I do enjoy the 1 on 1 practice mode that plays during the loading screens. I really do think that a 1 on 1 mode would have a whole lot of potential. It makes the whole thing pretty high stakes since if the opponent gets past you it’s a free goal. Sort of like the 1 on 1 NBA drills which are cool. FIFA’s probably couldn’t be a full game, but it would at least make for a pretty sound minigame.

Graphically the game holds up just as well as all of the other FIFA titles. There’s a lot of solid animations and victory dances here. They’re programmed to work for every character and the soccer ball is as realistic as you can reasonably expect it to be. There isn’t much of a soundtrack so I can’t speak to the music. It’s definitely not nearly as expansive as NBA or Madden.

There are a lot of different customizations for the games so you can choose the time, difficulty, arena, team, etc. You can recreate whatever kind of situation you need and that’s definitely nice. It’s easy to take that for granted, but EA does give you all the tools you’ll need to succeed. As long as you enjoy the game of soccer (and hopefully you do if you bought this game) then there’s really nothing to dislike here. It’s a very solid all around FIFA experience. While there may not be much reason to play it so long as the newer ones exist, it’s not as if the quality declines just by existing. It’s as solid as it ever was.

One last tip I’ll leave you with is that it’s very easy to cheese the game once you have the lead. Just stay in your territory and keep on passing to your teammates once you have the lead. It’s very easy to confirm the win this way but there is a good reason why most people don’t do it. The simple answer is that it’s very boring and you almost may as well not be playing the game at that point. If that’s your strategy for winning tourneys and all that’s fine, but cheesing against a computer like this? I wouldn’t be able to last for many games doing that. It becomes a running simulator at that point. Might as well go for gold even if it ends up forcing the loss.

Overall, FIFA 09 is definitely a soccer game that you will want to add to your roster. It brings a significant amount of content for only around 2 bucks at this point. I suppose I should add the disclaimer that the online modes do not currently work as the game is too old so you shouldn’t count that in the replay value section. Either way with local multiplayer and franchise options there is enough content where you can fairly say that the game is basically infinite with how long you can play it. I don’t imagine anyone will be buying 09 this late in the game, but if you are tempted to do so then know that I do recommend it as a quality purchase.

Overall 7/10

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FIFA 10 Review


It’s time for yet another FIFA game. You’d think that by now I’d really have the controls down, but it’s still a pretty tough game I have to admit. Scoring goals is really tough although I found out near the end of the game that I had actually been using the wrong button to shoot the ball the whole time. That explains a lot. Once I figured it out I still only scored one goal, but that was an improvement and I did end up winning the game so that was cool. I ended up winning another round in a penalty shootout as well. I think I will one day be able to start really winning here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here. You’ve got your franchise mode, quick matches, exhibition, minigames, and online battles. Naturally all of these modes have quite a lot of content in them so you don’t need to worry about a lack of replay value. The replay value here is endless and you don’t have to ever stop playing unless you don’t want to. Of course, with newer FIFA games out there you probably won’t want to stick with this one for long, but at the end of the day the gameplay is pretty similar for all of them anyway.

I would have a hard time telling you what is different between this one and FIFA 11 for example. Like with that one you get to play in 3D practice mode while waiting for the screens to load. The gameplay is still fairly simple which works out for me. I still think the goalkeeper is pretty overpowered and you’ll be lucky to land any real shots here, but at least you’ll know what you’re doing. The defenders give you a lot of space so you’re free to run in and try to dominate the pace of the game. Playing defense is a lot easier. So long as you don’t go for many slides you likely won’t attract any fouls. With no fouls to worry about you can just go ahead and crush your competition until they hand over to the ball. It may result in a lot of 0-0 games, but it’s worth it.

As always the graphics are definitely quite sharp here. EA spares no expense on its sport titles. It’s all very lifelike which is pretty neat. Naturally you can’t compare it to the really new ones, but this game did come out quite a while ago. When it came out the graphics were definitely very high end. The soundtrack is a lot less noticeable like in most sport games since the actual sound effects and such end up completely dominating the music. That works for me though since EA’s music is rarely all that great. The tempo tends to fit for the game you’re playing but I can’t really speak to the lyrics much.

There’s really nothing bad to say about FIFA 10. There were no glitches or bugs that I encountered. There are quite a lot of modes to choose from so it’s not as if the game was made in a rush either. It’s just a very direct game. What you see is what you’ll get. It’s got you covered with whatever kind of soccer modes you want to try. The gameplay may be hard to get into, but once you do learn it fully you’ll definitely be ready to dominate your competition quite easily. It’s definitely a very rewarding game in that sense since once you learn it you will completely dominate your competition.

Overall, FIFA 10 is another solid game. Ultimately there really isn’t much reason to play it now though. You can play FIFA 14 for about 5 bucks nowadays and you’ll have much better luck finding opponents online. I get the feeling there even if the servers are still up for 10 (and they probably aren’t) it’ll be a while before you find a match. There just won’t be many people still playing a FIFA game from that far back. It’s just not going to happen if you ask me. Still, just because there are better versions of the game doesn’t mean it takes away from this one’s score. You have to judge the game on its own and in that case I’d say that this one is still fundamentally sound.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 11 Review


I definitely don’t play a lot of FIFA so most of the gameplay mechanics start to go over my head. You could probably tell that from my earlier FIFA review. Well, the marathon must continue and now I’m going at FIFA 11. I am proud to say that this one is actually an improvement. If anything that could actually be a bit of a negative of course since that means the games got worse as they went along, but that’s mainly because I’m a casual. FIFA 11 is a lot more arcade based so the controls are just simpler. I was actually able to score this time.

As always there are quite a few standard sport modes here. You can quickly pick up and play a normal game, do some minigames and challenges or you can run through a franchise. A cool part of the loading screen here is while waiting for the game to start you can head to the field and practice your shots 1 on 1. I enjoyed these quite a bit and while it would definitely be a very different kind of soccer game I think it would make for a fun one. Some 1 on 1 battles would definitely be a good way to practice fundamentals.

Still, the main part is naturally the actual games and in those I do feel like I improved. At first I couldn’t score a single goal, but then I played some more games and was getting some good shots in. I was able to defeat the opponent on the two easiest difficulties and then after that I started getting blown up again. It’s inevitable, but at least I felt like I was playing as opposed to just staying strong. I got my wins and losses and this just felt like the definitive version of the game.

Everything about FIFA 11 just feels right. The gameplay mechanics and visuals are on point. As always EA really delivers on how the game looks and plays. Then you’ve also got the way the shots work. In the later FIFA games you have to be hitting multiple buttons at once to get the shots where you want. In this one you just hit the shoot button and you’ve got the general direction down. From there it’s all about just keeping on until you get to the end.

Naturally there is also online battles to increase your replay value. Fighting other players online is just a great way to really start testing your skills beyond a local level. At this point it’s hard to imagine going back to just having local multiplayer. For some games that works of course, but especially with sports having online access makes it feel a lot more lifelike. You can go through a complete season with 15 other real teams (Well, that’s Football but you get the idea) and then you’re okay even if you don’t have a friend who plays FIFA.

One gameplay tip for all aspiring FIFA players is you definitely want to pass quite a bit. Get close enough to the goal and one player will always leave his man to try and get to you. That’s when you want to quickly pass the ball and get yourself into a prime position to make the goal. Even then it’s going to be pretty tough of course since the goal keeper is incredibly OP no matter what FIFA game you’re playing. You just gotta keep going and you’ll score. There are less tips to give to the defensive side since it’s pretty easy to stop the goals from being scored so long as you keep tackling the other players. Don’t bother with the slides since you’ll usually get penalized for them. Just go for basic shoves and the other players will never be able to get past you. That’s one thing I’ve been consistent about in both FIFA games, the opponent just doesn’t score.

I did try one game at the highest difficulty level though. It didn’t really follow the same path though as this time I couldn’t stop them from scoring. In my defense, the highest level in any sport game is typically insane. Even in Madden, which is my best series, I have a hard time keeping up at this level. The other team inevitably ends up winning the game by the end even if I can keep it close. So keeping it close in FIFA at this level? Nah…..I can’t do that.

Overall, FIFA 11 is definitely a very solid game. Soccer still isn’t really my sport, but I do think this one is more beginner friendly and the controls are more straight forward. I can see how veterans may not like this, but at the moment I consider this to be the definitive FIFA. I do have other FIFA games to go play (At least 3 more) so we’ll see if those can match up. Considering the trend they just might end up getting even better.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 14 Review


It’s time to look at an old FIFA game. I would say a “modern” one but at this point 2014 feels like a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of experience with FIFA, but I’m a little better at it than I am at MLB. At the very least I keep the games close. It’s definitely a fun title, but certainly one that you will enjoy a whole lot more if you are actually good at it. Knowing how to make the plays that you want to achieve simply makes for a world of difference here.

There are a bunch of different modes. I imagine that you will spend most of your time in Franchise mode ordinarily. After all, that’s where you get to really learn and grow with your team. If you can’t get the hang of the controls for a while you’ll start out with some bad records, but eventually you’ll be able to completely flip that. I don’t really have enough time to do all of that, but it’s always a great mode for any sport. Beyond that you can also run drills, practice, Go online and play, or a bunch of other options. There is no shortage of modes and content here.

As for the gameplay, it seems pretty good. it’s definitely one of those games where it’ll take a while to actually master the controls. There’s a lot to them and you can’t really skate by on just doing the easy controls. You’ll really need to apply yourself here. For example, I played a few games, but couldn’t score a single goal. I just can’t get close enough to take a realistic shot, it’s crazy. On the other side though, I didn’t allow any goals to be scored in most of the games. (They did score on me once) So…either the goal keeper is just OP here or I need more training. I imagine that it’s the latter because otherwise the FIFA games wouldn’t be nearly as big as they are now. I felt more confident than in Baseball since I’m at least not getting blown out, but at the same time you can’t win without scoring right?

The graphics are certainly solid as always. EA doesn’t hold back in that area. As always in the sport games the music isn’t all that memorable, but it seems to be pretty fast and fitting for the sport. On a technical level the game is quite good and the gameplay is solid as well so I have no real complaints. The only thing really hurting the score is the fact that the game won’t be incredibly fun until you get good at it and you also have to love the sport. If you think about it, technically you’re going to be going through the same motions in every match. That’s true for many games of course, but it does emphasize how much you need to like the gameplay in order to go through with it. Otherwise it would just become a chore by the end and you don’t want that.

To date the best Soccer game has definitely been Mario Strikers. It took a more arcade style look at the sport with simplified controls but still hitting all of the right mechanics. It’s a game that holds up well today and I think FIFA could learn a thing or two from it. FIFA is of course going for a Soccer Simulation style as it’s very realistic but I think it could loosen up on the mechanics a bit. Make the ball go in more precise locations instead of just anywhere and that would help with the shooting. Of course, this is something that would help casual FIFA players like me while professional gamers would likely not like having their experience go to waste so it’s definitely a mixed proposal. I’ll definitely still be buying the next FIFA games once the price is reasonable so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, but I do think it would be a way for the series to get to the next step.

Currently from the big EA titles I’d rank them as Madden>NBA>FIFA>NHL>MLB>PGA. If we threw Tennis in there then it would be third after NBA. In general those are the 3 games that are way above the others. Starting with FIFA they just aren’t as interesting. Put it this way, Madden is a 9 star series and NBA/Tennis are 8 stars. FIFA is a 7 and the others range from 6 to 3. There’s probably a strong correlation to how I enjoy the real life sports too I suppose.

Overall, FIFA 14 definitely continues the series off well. I look forward to playing some of the other FIFA games I have in the backlog but haven’t played yet. They’ll all be older, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be even better. The more I play them the better I should get so that could help plus sometimes the older games had simpler controls which is also important to notice. It’s the opposite of fighting games where they’ve gotten a little simpler over the years. (Although in some cases that’s been a good thing like with Super Smash and Street Fighter) Whether you’ve played a previous FIFA game or not you should be able to jump in pretty quick here as long as you know how the sport works. Actually winning a game is a completely different discussion though. For that you’re gonna need to practice your shooting for quite a while and that’s no easy feat.

Overall 7/10

Need For Speed Most Wanted Review


It’s time to look at the next Need For Speed game! One impressive thing about the franchise has always been how long each game is. This is another title that will potentially have you busy for 20+ hours and that’s no small feat. EA really put a lot of heart into this series back in the day so I’m curious if that will continue to be the case as I get close to the end of the game series. Most Wanted brings back all of the good elements from Underground 2 while improving on them. It’s the definitive NFS game so far.

The game starts with you heading into town for some good races. You find the top dog and challenge him to a race. Unfortunately he cheats and steals your car. You now have to rise back up to the top from the bottom with a random car. The problem is that your old car was the best in the world. Defeating that is going to be very difficult. There is one lady in your corner who defends you from the blacklist, but ultimately you’ll have to take down all of the racers if you want your dignity back. Are you ready to challenge these guys or is it curtains for you?

At its core the main gameplay of Most Wanted is naturally racing. You have to beat the other cars to the goal. If we go more in depth, the game has a consistent flow chart of how things work out. To challenge a member of the blacklist (There are 10 people on the blacklist) you have to meet certain criteria. This includes: Complete 6 races, 5 Milestones, and achieve a certain amount of bounty. The races are self explanatory, but there are various types like Drag, Circuit, Sprint, Speed Trap, Lap Knockout, and a Time Attack. They all have differing rules but as long as you drive carefully and quickly you’ll be okay. I personally like Sprint and Speed Trap the most. Just boost at the right times and you’ll be set.

Milestones involve escaping the police and doing some time trials. These start out easy but by the end of the game they are quite difficult. For example, one milestone is to run from the cops for 13 minutes without being caught. You can definitely imagine that this is not very easy. If your car tips over then it’s likely over. There’s also the spike traps that are left out which serve as one hit KO attacks against your car. If you’re hit then it’s all over. The bounty also naturally goes up by destroying cop cars or surviving for a while.

Once you’ve taken down 1 or 2 members of the blacklist you’ll be able to see how the game goes from there. While there aren’t many cutscenes here there are still a few more than in the last game. I imagine that the number should keep going up as you go through the series. The cop takedown videos are pretty fun when you lose although it would be nice if they were skippable. By the end you’ll have seen them many times so they aren’t quite as hype by then.

The graphics are definitely pretty nice. The fact that this game finally takes place in the daytime is cool as it makes for a great contrast during the gameplay. It’s like you’re finally back in a real city. The soundtrack is pretty similar to the last one. At least you are given the option to disable songs you don’t like which is very handy. That is already a pretty big game changer if you ask me. The soundtrack isn’t amazing, but the tempo of the songs certainly fit the races.

There’s a good amount of replay value here. Even after you have beaten the game there are a bunch of races to play. Perhaps not as much as you may think, but certainly enough. You can also just have fun running from the cops for hours. It’s an aspect of the game that won’t get old. Then you’ve also got Challenge Mode which has over 50 things to tackle there. The final challenge is sort of like the final mission in the game as the cops have everyone after you. Don’t think it’ll be easy to evade those guys. This time they’re playing for keeps.

One interesting thing is that you can max out your car before the final two members of the Blacklist show up. You will literally have a car that has all its stat figures maxed out. That means that the final two cars aren’t even worth equipping as they are actually slower than yours. It’s an interesting decision and it was almost a bit odd. Still, I guess it shows that you just have to keep your driving at a high level because at the end they’ll all be matching you. I do recommend trying for the pink slips when you beat the rivals on the blacklist since getting a car is worth the odds.

Also, one thing I liked about the final blacklist race is how the villain appears to cheat which fits with his character. He’ll suddenly vanish from the map and appear in front of you or take a shortcut that you don’t have access to. He beat me once using these cheap tricks. It was cool though because I can’t think of a time a game has done that before and it just makes sense. He cheated the first time, why wouldn’t he do so now? The villain’s name was Razor I believe and while he’s definitely not even a good villain, I did like the voice. It oozed confidence from start to finish.

Overall, Need For Speed Most Wanted is definitely a great title. If you haven’t played a Need For Speed game then I’d say you should certainly start with this one. It’s got the huge hub world from Underground 2, but without the style point grinding. The story also takes more of a focus as you can choose to just do the story battles and go from there. The other games forced you to do a bunch of extra races. Next up is Carbon and I’m interested in seeing how that game is set up. It looks like it might be a bit shorter than these last few, but it’s still Need For Speed so we’ll see about that.

Overall 8/10

Madden 16 Review


It’s time to look at a game that I forgot to review a long time ago. That game is Madden 16. I bought it ages ago but somehow I just didn’t write a review for it. Well, better late than never right? The Madden series is one that I’ve always considered to be one of the very best. There’s a ton of detail put into the game and while it may not change much from year to year, you can still see a noticeable difference if you skip a few games so the changes are there.

The gameplay follows the rules of the real life version of the game. It’s the kind of title that is fairly easy to pick up and play but hard to master. The series grew more difficult with each game as new mechanics are added each time. You used to be able to just throw the ball where you wanted and then tackle other players. Now you have multiple ways to throw and tackle to the point where you often are not sure which one to use. They all have their weaknesses and strengths. Personally I think the simpler style controls work better but that’s probably because I’m a casual player. I realize that more times than not, complicated controls are the way to go because it leads to a higher skill ceiling. There’s just a lot to take in.

As always, being on offense is the best part. You’re just really in control of the game when you’re playing quarterback. You throw it where you want and it’s not like the computer can force you to toss it. Sometimes a defender will make a crazy play to get at the ball but for the most part any play that goes badly is likely your fault. You’ll realize as soon as you threw the ball that it was a bad idea. Small things like that are what makes this such a legitimate experience. Running the ball seems a little harder than in the old days, particularly in breaking away for super long runs. However you will often pick up at least a few yard which makes for more realistic football.

There is one more realistic thing added although I could have done without this. There are a lot of flags in this game. At one point I thought I was watching the NFL because there were flags on almost every play. It always feels pretty iffy when it’s on your team. I had a long touchdown taken back because of a flag like that. Seemed rigged and I wasn’t playing in Cowboys stadium this time so maybe the developers added some extra Home Field Advantage in this one.

Playing defense isn’t my favorite thing in the world because you often feel helpless against the computer. It’s mitigated a little by the new mechanics of being on the line and trying to shake the offensive player but at he end of the day it still isn’t quite as exciting. I don’t think it’s an issue with the game though, it’s just a personal preference. At least I appreciate that it is easier to try and make a play on the b-ball instead of jumping helplessly like in previous games. Also you can use super sim to just skip all defensive drives completely. It’d be nice if you could have that feature as a saveable option. Meanwhile special teams is probably the least changed from all of the sections but there really isn’t much to change here.

As always the graphics in Madden are very impressive. There’s a lot of detail in every play and the facial expressions are on point. There’s even a nice pre game show and a lot of nice moments throughout that may slow the game a bit but ultimately make the experience that much more realistic. It all feels like a big production and I can say that you will be satisfied when you finally get to jump in.

The soundtrack is not very noticeable since the majority of the time you’ll be in the middle of a game where there really isn’t any music. What’s there is the typical EA mash. The tunes are very catchy and all but the lyrics aren’t always the best. It’s pretty much a non factor in the game but better to have it than not I suppose.

There are many ways to enjoy this game aside from normal matches. You can go through franchise mode and re-enact a bunch of seasons. You can also go online and prove yourself against a plethora of opponents. There are some rage quitters here which can get a bit iffy though. Sometimes it seems like you don’t get the points that you should have. There are also modes to practice and buy trading cards. The replay value here is basically endless.

Overall, Madden 16 continues the series on an elite level. There have been many great Football titles over the years but none have come all that close to Madden as the definitive Football product. It feels like an insurmountable hurdle for any company to hope to achieve. Of course that works out quite well for the players since it’s just such a complete product.

Overall 9/10