There was an article in a Sunday newspaper a few weeks ago, which reported that big name footballers were planning to store sperm samples to create clones of themselves in the not too distant future. We can’t vouch for the reliability of the report, but if such a thing were to happen then it would save EA’s artists and commentators loads of hassle. “Rooney Clone 1 passes to Rooney Clone 2, Rooney Clone 2 has been tackled by Owen Clone 3. Crouch Clone 2 has dropped back to the goal. Crouch Clone 1 has dropped back to the goal. Crouch Clone 3 has dropped back to the goal.” And so on.

FIFA 07 screenshotSeriously though, the commentary in FIFA 07 really impresses. It’s fluid and spontaneous, with minimal repetition. Fluid isn’t a word that we can use to describe the player movements though. It looks like there’s a few frames of animation missing from each player, most noticeable when running with the ball or turning on the spot. The only time the visuals look as good as the screenshots is during the cut-scene-like goal celebrations – and even then motion blur and hazing effects have been applied. It’s most suspicious that out of all the hundreds – and we mean hundreds – of screenshots EA released, not one featured an actual in-game view. Probably because it looks weak and very PSone-like.

In every new FIFA, EA have a stab at introducing a new feature, which is usually half-baked or adds nothing, then silently dropped in the next edition in favour for something similarly useless. This year they’ve avoided this path, instead working hard to create a solid and convincing game of football. The improvement in AI is noticeable from the first kick off, with plenty of scope for human error. In previous FIFAs you could always find ‘sweet spots’ – areas of the pitch that you could score from pretty much every time, providing you used the right type of kick or spin. Not any more. Balls can and will bounce off the posts, and we’ve seen the ball slip through players’ legs more than once.

There’s also a PSP link-up feature – which lets you swap management data, continuing your career on the move – and a deeper management mode. In the My FIFA option menu you can customise the game totally, right down to whether you want digital, classic or analogue dribbling, and of course there’s the usual licensed soundtrack that you can organise playlists for.

The real question is this though: are the improvements between FIFA 06 and this worth £30? If you’ve never played or owned a FIFA game before you’d probably be just as happy with a £2.99 copy of an older FIFA, plucked straight out of the pre-owned section. In fact, the shop will probably pay you to take it away.

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