Another global “football” season means another edition of EA Sports’ excellent soccer sim, and we shouldn’t take this demo for granted, considering that FIFA’s hefty cousin Madden NFL hasn’t provided a trial version in years. That said, the 550MB download doesn’t deliver anything unexpected or much different from the demo for 2006 FIFA World Cup. It’s fun to play with famous players like Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, and Wayne Rooney, and it’s hard to knock a demo that allows unlimited four-minute matches with six international club teams, but there’s simply not enough content or customization to warrant a higher rating.
The demo allows you to play as and against Manchester United (U.K.), Lyon (France), Werder Bremer (Germany), AC Milan (Italy), Guadalajara (Mexico), or Barcelona (Spain), and each team includes recognizable superstars, like controversial World Cup star Cristiano Ronaldo. The only provided field is Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and the matches are limited to one four-minute half. The game controls will be familiar to anyone who’s played FIFA, and since it’s clearly a console port, a controller works much better than the keyboard. Unfortunately, though the controls are logical and easy to learn, you can’t change them or refer back to the control guide during an active match. Also, matches are limited to single-player action, so forget about competing against a pal.
A new game engine this year feels more realistic than in previous years, especially to players comfortable with the style of the slower Winning Eleven series, and the graphics are likewise improved. The physical interaction among players on the pitch is particularly good. However, most of this year’s additions, like the enhanced manager mode and interactive online leagues, aren’t included in this demo, leaving non-diehard fans of FIFA to wonder if the lengthy download and installation process is worth the effort. We recommend this game only to big fans of soccer sims or those considering the full version.
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