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FIFA 07 - first look

Every year, we're treated to new versions of practically every sports game imaginable. The updates are usually minor, but sports fans keep buying the updated games in the millions of copies. FIFA 07 for the 360 could easily have taken this route, slapping together a new roster and calling it a day, but judging from our hands-on time, the very idea you have of the FIFA series could be changing for the better.

This one's being built from the ground up - no recycled technology or easy days off porting over old tricks that worked on the current-gen games. The most drastic, important change of them all actually hinges on the purest aspect of any game: fluidity. The animation, handling and behavior of everything in 07 are getting the developer's full attention, with three key points presiding over the project.

The first is all about momentum. Ever notice how every player on any field (or court) sorta runs around with this unchanging, Terminator-like stride? Now players lean into their jogs, cut back when they stop or hop over fallen players on the field. This is something you can appreciate without even playing the game - it just looks smoother and a hell of a lot more lifelike.

Up next is foot planting, an improvement that removes the ghost-ish sliding so many sports games suffer from. Athletes shift and move like real people instead of just hovering around a flat plane floating inside your Xbox. Foot placement, along with accurate momentum, combine to bring the third trick to life.

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