FIFA 07 DS
Chalk and Cheese. FIFA on the DS is an odd combination. On one mitt you have the videogame's front-runner in innovation. And on the other you have the most predictable, but most successful, games publisher/developer the world has seen. Surely a juxtaposition that is certain to fail.
However EA have made a decent effort at utilising the DS's quirks. You can use the mic to record a unique chant, which plays automatically when you put one in the net. You can also prompt it at any given time by pushing the chant icon on the touch screen. In game, the action plays out on the top screen and a radar takes up the bottom screen. This works especially well as it's easy to tell which players are in space and where to put the ball about.
Surprisingly FIFA 07 DS is poorly licensed. While all of the world's major leagues are featured with club badges and correct player names, little effort has been made to carry this throughout. None of the kits are correct, nor are they particularly well crafted. The player's bear little resemblance to their real life counterparts - in some cases even the ethnic background of a player is incorrect. The stadiums all look like Fulham's Craven Cottage - it all compounds the fact that EA have made little effort to polish off in a way only they know how. Where PS2 and Xbox 360 versions benefit from lavish presentation and all the authenticity you could possibly wish for, DS users have been sorely mistreated.
And this is a massive shame as the actual gameplay has something decent about it. While you'll never get the sheer scale and depth of the home-console versions, FIFA 07 DS does offer, at points, compulsive gameplay. It isn't realistic; the play switches from one end to the other in seconds. It's not especially difficult; in fact the difficulty settings are ultimately pointless as playing on anything below 'World Class' is so easy it's not worth it: Spurs beat Chelsea 3-0 on the opening day of the season - that's what dreams are made of, but the problem with dreams is that they're not real and easier settings on FIFA 07 are pathetically plastic. However when you do find your happy medium you should settle into a game that sometimes shows class and flashes of realism: one particularly pleasing moment saw a ball played over the top for the striker to latch on and side foot it past the keeper. It wasn't sensational, but felt genuine, and for that, very pleasing.
As you would expect FIFA 07 DS is option heavy, you can play online, or against a friend. The main feature though is 'the season'. Here you take any team featured (even 2nd division sides should the desire take you) and attempt to win the respective league. However obviously it's not possible for, say, Bolton to launch a realistic assault on the Premiership title so your board set you an attainable objective. In Bolton's case it's European qualification; if you meet you're objectives you gain manager points...fail and you lose points. If you end the season in massive deficit then your knackers will be for the chop. It's a decent system that enables you to clearly see how you're doing, and puts extra pressure on the big games to get results, especially if the noose is being readied for your weight. Football fans might find it a bit odd however; perhaps a direct comment on your performance from the board would have been a more authentic way of doing things.
The gameplay suits quick bursts; perfect for short journeys and crucially it's easy to pick up where you left off. And this is probably the best way to play FIFA 07 DS. There isn't a huge amount to the gameplay that will keep you hooked for hours. Where Pro Evo can be played almost indefinably, this can't beat its chest as loudly. At times it gets repetitive and the balancing is also amiss - tackling a player, for example, is a complete lottery. Regardless of whether you win the ball, or it's this particular player's first foul, the ref acts like a power-crazed nitwit. Sometimes you'll get sent off, occasionally it'll be yellow and other times it'll be nothing. It leads to indecision and is a total balls-up on EA's part. And this problem bobs merrily along in the undercurrent of the entire game.
FIFA 07 has flashes of genuine merit, but the sloppiness of the title as a whole feels like DS players have been mugged off somewhat. With it being EA's forte that it presents games like no other developer can, this is just simply not good enough. The gameplay has its strengths, but as a whole it's hard not to be irritated by the ineptitude on display at times. When the franchise is performing better than ever on other formats it's a kick in the nuts that the DS version has been rushed.