FIFA 08 - updated impressions

Hands-on with the PS2-exclusive version

Just to clarify, FIFA 08 on PS2 is not a cut-down version of the PS3/Xbox 360 version. It's being coded from the ground up specifically for the machine. Not only is this good news for the PS2 game, but also for the "big" versions as they won't have to keep old technology in mind. But enough about the big boys - the PS2 version got its fanfare when we visited EA, and with good reason.This looks to be thebest FIFA yet.

Firstly, and surprisingly, this isn't aping Winning Eleven any more. It feels like a FIFA game, and yet it also feels more like soccer. We know that's easy to say and the developers would tell you the same thing, but it really is true. The crucial difference between this game and previous FIFAs is the manual crossing and manual through-ball feature.

When you want to cross the ball, you must hold the stick in the precise direction you want it to go. Then hold down the square button - the longer you do, the further the cross will go. The same goes for through-balls. Instead of pointing the stick at a man and automatically playing it into his path, it's now completely under your control. Point at the space your teammate is running into, weight your pass and deliver a truly killer ball.

Above: We'll have PS2 screens for you soon, so watch this space

With these two buttons, you can play the ball to any point on the pitch if you've got the skill. You could even play the whole game without touching X if you were confident enough with triangle, although X-passing is quicker to initiate and more likely to find its target. The freedom of play makes this FIFA even more open than WE. It takes time to get used to, certainly, but there's more scope for reading the play and delivering the goods.

Another feature that addresses a common problem is the player select feature. We play WE most every day and it's heartbreaking to concede a goal because the game wouldn't let you select the man you wanted to. FIFA 08 fixes this with the right analog stick. You can still use L1 to switch players, as 80% of the time that's enough. But if you want a specific player, just flick the stick in their direction and there it is - the arrow above their head, waiting for your command.