Deep into its second decade as a major franchise, you'd like to think that FIFA had got it right by now. It's an ever-changing beast though, not least due to the introduction of new platforms. With the Xbox 360 version in its second incarnation, it's surprising that the PC gets lumbered with a shoddy port of the PS2 game.
However, scratch beneath the surface of the 'press R2' instructions and the PC has actually had a result, as this a far more honed affair than its 360 and PS3 brethren. And besides, it's practically unplayable with anything but a PS2 pad.
In case you thought that EA released the same game every year, FIFA 08 comes with three in-game videos outlining exactly what's new. The manual through ball control theoretically enables you to play forwards in more accurately; likewise the manual crossing, which should let you stick it on the striker's head.
They're both much of a muchness; a bigger deal is being able to directly control the goalkeeper both in open play and at set pieces, although unfortunately it didn't work with our PS2 pad. There are also some interesting co-op modes, including 'Be A Pro', where you control one player on the pitch.
As ever, EA has pushed the boat out in terms of licensing, including a staggering number of leagues, teams and authentic players, and it does genuinely make a difference being able to play as your shithouse League Two club.
As a multimedia world of football, FIFA 08 is unrivalled, extending to in-game podcasts and even a news ticker giving real-world scores and fixtures while you play. It's an excellent feature, even if it can cause you to occasionally take your eye off the ball.
As for the all-important gameplay, it's not wildly different from last season, with more than a nod to the flowing movement of Pro Evolution Soccer. In general, it's end-to-end stuff, with the scores kept realistic by some superhuman goalkeeping.
The tackling has been improved, and while the whole thing can feel a bit spongy, it still plays a decent game of football. And if you don't like it, there'll be another one along soon.
World of Sport