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While Iím not a soccer player in any sense of the word, I tend to end up playing the FIFA series of games year in and year out for one reason or another. And while there are stumbles from time to time, such as the shoddy Road to the World Cup release a couple years back, FIFA 07 was a return to glory and with the latest release FIFA 08 EA proves they are a quality soccer developing house.

The one thing that FIFA seems to always get right is the sheer amount of teams available for play. With over 600 teams to choose from, the chances are quite high that the game will feature your favorite team, player or even league. Once you Ďve got your team selected you can enter one of the many modes of play, most of which are quite common across any sports title Ė although tweaked to fit the slightly different way that this sport handles leagues and tournaments. If the ridiculously full featured manager mode doesnít grab you the newest method of play takes a page from other EA Sports titles, and lets you take the role of a single player on the pitch and follow them though a season. This is exactly like the mode from the Madden series and actually quite beneficial for a non-soccer player such as myself. It allows me to learn better positioning and even set plays while gaining in game skills for the player I control when making great passes and scoring goals.

The game also features a full set of online play options, leagues and tournaments can be set up quite easily for those who feel so inclined. Also the Be a Pro mode makes its way online in an interesting take on the game. Up to ten players can join a single team and each assumes the role of a single player on the field. While this has potential for getting boring should you end up with a not so glamorous position, it can be actually a lot of fun if you can find a good group of players to play with. The online play was quite solid and suffered no lag, save for some issues over the holidays with Xbox Live.

The gameplay is once again excellent, just like it was last year. Players are very fluidly animated and react very true to life. If youíre expecting a sprint from one end of the field to the other, followed by some very quick turns and ball dribbling, you will be disappointed as the physics in the game prevent inhuman acts of athleticism. And believe me, that is a good thing.

The right analog stick takes a lot of abuse this time around, thanks to the great foot control actions that have been assigned to it. Feel like juggling the ball then passing to your teammate in one smooth motion? Itís possible with the right combination of buttons and stick twitching Ė and when it works well, it looks fantastic.

EA has always done a great job with the look of this title, and once again FIFA 08 looks and sounds great. The stadiums from around the world are rendered very cleanly and as far as I know, quite accurately. Having never been to, well any of these places I canít vouch for authenticity but based on the fact this game sells around the work year after year, Iím guessing they are doing something right. And once again, EA went all out with the soundtrack for the title which features a great mix of music from around the world.

On the 360, naturally achievement points are given out, and spread across the 49 goals are 1000 points to dole out. Gone is the team swap cheat that allowed players easy access to a small chunk of points so youíll have to spend a fair amount of time playing the game to earn all these points. Some are given out for playing online, hosting games and winning matches while others are given for simply exploring the other modes of play like create a tournament or player. A large portion of the points are divided out for the challenge mode, and that mode is sure to keep a player busy for a long time as you have to meet specific goals for teams around the globe.

Itís hard to justify a new version of some games year after year, and when you have a game which included over 15,000 players itís hard to imagine getting bored with a prior version. Need more of a challenge, just pick a weaker team and enter a tough league. But some gamers are going to want to always have the most up to date version of a game regardless of the cost or changes to the title, which is easy to see thanks to the yearly revisions. But as a standalone game this is easily a recommended title if you enjoy the sport in any fashion, itís true to the sport and plays, looks and sounds great and thereís a large pool of players around the world to play online. Recommended.