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"FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play" - Video Game Review

With Multiple Control Schemes and Looks, All-Play Tries to Make Everyone Happy

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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I am not a sports guy. I don’t play sports and I don’t watch sports. In spite of this, I quite enjoy sports video games, which offer the thrill of battling for supremacy without the discomfort of falling down in the dirt or getting hit in the head with a ball. So even though I have never watched a soccer game, and have no intention of ever doing so, I quite enjoyed Electronic Arts’ FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play.

You Don't Need to Like Soccer to Like a Soccer Video Game

Sports games aren’t really designed for people who don’t like sports. They expect you to get excited about licensing deals that allow you to put famous athletes on your team and offer team management options that probably make perfect sense to someone who actually knows what skills players need.

None of that means anything to me, but I do enjoy running players up and down a field to score a goal. Sports games have been especially enjoyable on the Wii, offering intuitive control systems that give a physicality to sports impossible to achieve on other consoles.

All-Play actually has two control systems, “All-Play” and “Advanced.” Either can be played with just the remote or with the remote plus the nunchuk, but the controls are somewhat different. In All-Play if you don’t use the nunchuk players will run where they see fit; plug in the nunchuk and you control your player with the analog stick. In Advanced you move players by holding down the B button whiling guiding them. Passing is also somewhat different in advanced, where you can use the remote to choose a player. While the term “advanced” might intimidate casual players, the so-named control scheme is no more difficult to master than the All-Play scheme. It is also a more comfortable system that uses the Wii remote more effectively.

To shoot a goal you shake the remote, to pass you press the A button. At times I would accidentally do both, resulting in a player trying to shoot a goal from halfway across the field. This is a problem inherent in mixing buttons with motion control; overcoming it is simply a matter of practice.

You can perform a sliding tackle by shaking. If performed well you will wind up with the ball, but if you simply ram into the player you the referee will raise an objection. I really like tackles, so the referee was not a big fan of mine.

Your Choice of Visual Styles

Besides having two control schemes, All-Play also has two visual modes. One is the standard emulation of a soccer game, with well-animated players running up and down the field while sports announcers repeat the same handful of phrases over and over. The other is something called a Footii Match that is simply the same gameplay using cartoon representations of children playing on a cartoonish field. It’s a cute idea, allowing soccer families to purchase a single game that works for both kids and adults.

There are also a few decent mini-games involving pastimes like juggling a soccer ball for those moments when you’re sick of playing soccer.

You can also go online and play the game. I kept losing my connection, although whether this was a problem with my router or with the game server is something I cannot say.

The Verdict

If you aren’t a soccer fan, you probably aren’t going to buy All-Play. Certainly if I hadn’t become a video game writer I would never have thought to play a sports game. But once you get into the rhythm of a good soccer game, which involves lots of passing and turnovers, even the least athletic of us can enjoy team sports. Just as long as we don’t get hit in the head with a ball.
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