With both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 about to benefit from Electronic Arts' FIFA 08 goodness later this very year, the company has revealed some more about what you can expect in your actual factual game play.
As anyone who has ever played a footy sim will tell you looks are not everything. These games live and die on fluid motion and player artificial intelligence (AI). So, when Electronic Arts points out that player AI uses "a 35-point decision engine" enabling your pixel pals to "process multiple decisions and reactions in real-time", and that the AI uses a "dynamic Threat Map - well, smiles akin to those on the face of Torsten Frings at the sight of Miroslav Klose leaving the Werder Bremen carpark† are in order.
It's a major leap forward not just for computer footy but for mankind itself if EA's press release is anything to go on, "Players are now aware of their surroundings, reacting authentically to threats and opportunities to make intelligent football decisions" - which is more than you can say for England at the moment.
And that's not the all of it. "Now with the FIFA Soccer 08 shooting system you can enjoy even more control and precision in front of the goal to become a true marksman. A true next-generation ball-striking engine calculates shot success by combining an almost infinite number of different contexts, including ball spin, pressure from defenders, player attributes, and even air pressure to recreate the drama and unpredictable nature of shooting."
Almost infinite, eh? That'll be finite then. However, our pedantry (and EA's marketing department) aside, it does appear that the company is concentrating on the bits that count in a footba' sim - rather than just the bits that look good.
There's even a new mode, "called Be A Pro (that) locks you in the role of a single player and challenges you to master the same disciplines as a real soccer player from positioning and tackling to reading the field and passing."
We are also informed of, "skill moves with a true next-generation organic ‘building-block’ system enabling you to combine tricks and skill moves together to recreate signature moves from the real-world superstars or define your own style of play. Animations can be interrupted at any time to transition into a new move, enabling you to read and respond to the defence, just like real life. Master the skills to break down the defence, elude your marker and lead your team to victory."
All this - plus of 620 licensed teams, 30 leagues, and more than 15,000 players making it 20% larger than FIFA Soccer 07 on current generation formats - and interactive leagues have been confirmed today as well.
Possibly, just possibly Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer could have a fight on its hands (and feet).
† If you don't get that reference, you really shouldn't be playing FIFA 08.