Review by Wamx

"A decent game, but nothing special"

So there I was standing at the shelves looking for a new game to buy, and I saw this title (on sale, mind you). After watching the World Cup just a few days earlier, I was willing to buy a soccer (note : i will refer to the sport as soccer, even though a larger portion of the world refers to it as football. forgive me) title and try it out. So I did. What did I get ? Basically, I got just that : a soccer title. Its what you expect, but nothing more.

Gameplay : 6/10

Its soccer, not quite the most difficult sport. But it certainly can be in this game...

Firstly, the system of gameplay in this FIFA title is actually quite different than the other ones (if you've played them). This new passing-shooting system is quite nice, but it isnt near perfect, and has its fair share of flaws.

Passing the ball is the first issue. I simply want to move the ball from one player to the next. So I press the button. But, unfortunately, it just isnt that easy. There is quite a delay or lag that you deal with. The reaction is slow. You press the button, then the player seems to sit there for a moment, then kicks the ball. This makes it far easier for the computer opponent to take the ball from you than it should be, making the game, likewise, far more difficult. The lack of crisp movement and fluid motion isn't something that I'm used to, and it becomes quite annoying. Adding to your trouble is how this lag isn't seen anywhere in the computer's play. They have the quick, crisp passes that you desire, which becomes very frustrating...

Shooting, however, isn't quite as bad as the passing system. Although that slight lag is still there, it isnt as bad and not quite as noticeable. The shooting system, overall, is quite solid. Learning to control your speed and direction of shot takes some practice, and that is expected. But overall, shooting isn't the problem. Getting into the situation where you can shoot is the larger difficulty.

Proving the difficulty to get the ball in a passing situation is how hard it is to win the balls out of the air. No matter how hard you try or what maneuvers you attempt, the result will either be a foul on you or the computer ends up with the ball. This problem becomes even more clear when you move up through the higher levels of play. This leads to the huge difference in ball control. If you manage to have more than 25 % ball control in a game, you are doing fine. It doesnt matter if you take France, the computer will still have the ball control, especially in higher levels...

Free Kicks are solid on the offensive side, but harder to stop now on the defensive side. This however is certainly more realistic and would be seen in real life.

The 'star player' feature of the gameplay is nice, giving certain players on a team better abilities (because they are better in real life), but the change in skill level is a bit too much. If you try scoring a goal with a non-star player, you will have a much tougher time than scoring with the star player. This turns it into whichever team has more start players. Luckily, you can turn this feature off if you dislike it.

Graphics : 8/10

The graphics are very good, although they could be better for a computer title... The players and field are nicely done, but the environment around that are what lack. The stadiums and fans aren't done very well, and only have crude animations, and not very good textures...

The close up faces of the players are obviously designed to look like the actual players themselves, but it isnt done too smoothly. The proportions are out of line and the players head is significantly larger than his body.

Sound : 6/10

Its very simple all around. The chants are what you would expect. The announcing is rather lack-luster, but not that bad to make you turn off your speakers or replace it with music...The music is more Asian due to where the games were held, which is actually quite nice...

Lasting Appeal : 4/10

Once you win the World Cup with one team, it may be hard to find the motive to do it again. Maybe you would like to play it through on a more difficult setting, but then the gameplay problems shine through and it becomes frustrating.

Buy it ?

This is a great title for soccer fans. Its just that though, for soccer fans. If you aren't a big fan, this game won't make you one. If you enjoy soccer, however, this is a solid game for you.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 08/13/02, Updated 08/13/02

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