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Previews

FIFA 07

Our scouts take an exclusive look at the latest version of EA's all-conquering footy franchise!

It seems FIFA games come out more frequently than your team plays in their league. Is it really worth shelling out £40 every time a new edition hits shelves, with near identical gameplay and a few new shirts and a transfer update? You've played one FIFA game you've played them all, right? Not this time.

FIFA 07 is changing the game. It's not simply going to recycle the same old gameplay and dump on loads more excessive features that you don't need. This time EA has picked through its past work, wiped out the crap and has given the whole thing a complete overhaul.

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We like new FIFA producer Joe Booth's way of thinking: "We didn't want to come out and say we're just adding one or two new features. We wanted to say we're just being passionate about football and really taking the whole experience up. You can't just improve one area without addressing everything else."

And that's exactly what EA has done. We were among the first people outside EA to get our hands on the controls with FIFA 07, and can tell you that EA has gone a long way to try and make this the most realistic, most believable football game you've ever played. But before we get into the intricacies of the on-field gameplay, we first want to tell you about FIFA 07's most exciting new feature - the Interactive League.

This is a new online gameplay mode that ties the game in with real life league fixtures. Fixtures in the game open up a few days before real life. You enter Xbox Live as a fan of your team and the game will place you in a match against a fan of the opposing team. You play as many games as you like until the fixture closes at the end of the real life match. All the wins and losses from everyone playing the game around the world are collated, and the team that got the most wins will get three points in the online Interactive League. This means that all the fans of a team are working together to get the most wins for their team so that it gets the three points at the end of the fixture.

Joe Booth explained that his aim was to link the game in with real life football as much as possible. "We were brainstorming everyday about how we can create an experience that ties you into your club," he said. "This is a taste of where football games are going to go in the future."

And what a fantastic feature this seems. The communal aspects of this system are awesome. Imagine it - you'll be able to log onto Xbox Live everyday to see how your team is doing in the Interactive League compared to how it is in real life. The only difference here is that if your team is getting humped in the standings, you don't have to cry about it (or turn your TV upside down and pretend they're winning), you can get online for their next fixture and kick some ass, contributing to earning the three points they need. And the hard work you put in will be well worth the effort because the game will also keep a record of how many games you've won for your team, and display a leader board for the top 100 players for each team. Hit the top of that leader board and you'll get RESPECT, from us at least, and fellow fans of your team.

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To enhance the game's ties with the real life sport, the game uses a system called Online Everywhere, which basically means that it will go online the moment you switch it on (providing you have a Live account) and keep you connected with real footie events. You will be able to keep up to date with the latest league standings, game scores and fixtures all from within the menus of the game. It will retrieve live information from the internet over Xbox Live, so you never miss a beat. Even better, Booth told us that players will have the option to have live score bulletins appear on-screen during gameplay. So even if you're a FIFA addict and can't put the pad down, you'll know what's going on in the real sport. Being the official FIFA game, we're surprised EA didn't do this before. Finally, our wish list is coming true.

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