EA predict Euro 2008 winner

Here’s a story for everyone outside of the USA. EA SPORTS have used their latest version in the long running FIFA franchise, UEFA EURO 2008 to predict the result of the Euro Championships, which kicks off for real on June 7.

By simulating the competition in full, they have confidently predicted that Portugal will win the tournament, beating the current world champions Italy 2-1 in the final. More good news for the Portuguese is that they also predict mercurial winger Christiano Ronaldo to win the Golden Boot with 5 goals. Fans will, of course be keenly watching to see if they are right.

Although residents of the USA and other non-footy fans find it hard to believe, the FIFA series is a huge seller around the globe along with its niche competitor Pro Evolution Soccer, or Winning Eleven as it’s called in its native Japan. The rivalry between these two titles goes way back to the 90s with FIFA always coming out on top in terms of sales, but ProEvo usually being the connoisseurs choice in terms of gameplay.

While ProEvo has been constantly chipping away at FIFA’s sales lead by producing a consistly high quality game, the EA product has had mixed fortunes in terms of it’s quality and has always been thought of as playing catch up to its Japanese counterpart. There are whispers that that might be about to change with the arrival of the next full blown release FIFA 2009.

Independant PS3 magazine PSM3, has a hands-on this month in which they hint that this time FIFA might be able to topple PES from its position as the BEST FOOTBALL GAME EVER!

Lead producer David Rutter boasts, “there are roughly 50,000 possible combinations. That’s not really doing it justice. The point is there are over 40 different defensive ways to play and over 500 attacking ways.”

Well, that all sounds very impressive but what really caught my eye is the smaller details. Play is now reportedly more fluent, players are able to skip realistically out of tackles, and animations run smoother. They have also added mass and momentum to the game engine, so now when a teeny player like Michael Owen runs into a wall like John Terry, the little fella should bounce off leaving Terry with the ball. Just like in real life!

To be honest, I am a big PES fan and I have heard this kind of news about FIFA before, almost every year actually. I think it is best to wait until we see the final code but I am certainly going to keep an open mind this year. As they say in PSM3, maybe this year is not “FIFA or PES but FIFA and PES.