The same goes for goalies. Clicking in R3 gives you direct control of the keeper. While this isn't really new, it does work well, especially in dead-ball situations where you want to position the keeper yourself. We played four solid matches in the classic (read: normal) mode and the game never did anything untoward. It's a very solid simulation of soccer, and working a goal is a real achievement. We didn't see a single cheap goal. Goalmouth scrambles, yes. Goalkeeping errors, yes. But not a cheap goal like FIFAs of old.
Classic mode is now joined by Be a Pro mode - the game's biggest new feature. This lets you (and up to three friends) take the role of individual players and play through a season together. It's a strange sensation to lose the ball and not be able to switch men, but once you get used to it, the new gameplay is quite refreshing. You can still ask for a pass from the AI players, or tell them to take a shot, but you can also just play your role quietly.
Be a Pro allows you to create your own player (even yourself) from scratch, or take on an existing player. Starting afresh is the best way to play, however, as fulfilling individual tasks and team tasks will reward you with EXP and this allows you to level up your chosen man, developing the skills you want to use in your own game. It looks like an interesting mode - and definitely one for people who play football in real life. Obviously, in future FIFAs, this will be a full 11-v-11 online experience but as it stands, it starts here, like this.
The game will feature the usual FIFPro license, so you'll get 12,500+ players and 30 leagues. Each of the 570 or so clubs will have a unique formation according to real-life tactics, which can be tweaked or changed completely, as you'd expect. Players have a trait system in place, so now when a player is good at long-range shots, he'll actually attempt more long-range shots. It's a subtle addition, but should make for much more realistic matches.
Speaking of realism, the game is looking sweet. The preview version hasn't had all the kits approved yet, so we were playing with attractive placeholder get-up. But the player models look great and the superstar players are immediately recognizable. The stadia are big and look great in cutscenes, although the flat crowds do look like cut-outs when you get to either end of the pitch while playing. This is only PS2, however, so we don't mind.