Credit where credit’s due. It’s been a while since the PC version of FIFA got any kind of specific love from EA Sports, but here it’s tried something a little different. Exclusive to PC owners are mouse and keyboard controls, opening the world of the football game up to the WASD fragging elite as well as joypad junkies. You control the movement of your players (ideally with the keyboard, although the mouse is an option), and move the on-screen cursor to specific points where you want to target the ball, or your player to act. Inevitably, it’s a bit fiddly and the keyboard control of the players doesn’t have the correct amount of precision right now.
Knock the rough edges off, though, and EA may be onto something here. Yet unfortunately no amount of fresh spit and polish can hide the fact that 80 per cent of what’s here is what you forked out for last year. Nevertheless, the game does feel like it’s been tightened. The midfield battles are less stilted, and there’s a feeling of more fluidity to the football action.
Off the park, the bells and whistles have never looked finer, and the plethora of tournaments and game modes is unrivalled. Manager mode, albeit limited to 15 seasons, is probably the best place to surrender your social life, but the game is customisable enough for you to play it your way.
FIFA 09 is a professional and enjoyable game that goes some way to addressing concerns that EA Sports had fallen out of love with PC gamers. It’s still pretty much the game you were expecting, but it does throw down a stiffer challenge to PES once more.