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FIFA Soccer 2002 Package Art
GENRE
Sports
DEVELOPER
Electronic Arts
PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-4
CONNECTIVITY
no
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FIFA Soccer 2002

Like most suburbanites, I spent several years of my youth playing soccer. My mother was a soccer mom (though not in the common political sense) long before soccer moms drove Explorers, or even mini-vans. My mom was a station wagon soccer mom. I remember the dirtied shinguards, the bloodied calves, the mud and the cleats and the stupid, shiny goalie jerseys that burned reflected UVs into my retina on cloudless afternoons. I remember frequently being ejected for unsportsmanlike slide tackles. So, it is with especially fond memories that many of us look forward to soccer video games.

Brought to the Cube by Electronic Arts, most famous for games based on that other kind of football, FIFA 2002 comes from a strong sports heritage: and it shows.

visuals

As home game consoles improve, sports games look more and more like television broadcasts. FIFA 2002 doesn't boast the same slick production values as Madden. Still, it's an effective presentation, and should satisfy a fanatic's insatiable need for authenticity.

Player models are well built and similarly well animated. I can't attest to the accuracy of player facial renders; in fact, I know at least one football aficionado who claims the faces are off. Nevertheless, the faces do look like faces; they are expressive and distinct. Post-goal reaction shots psyche up victorious strikers, and engender sympathy for the defeated -- unless, of course, you're winning. Then you'll laugh at the pitiful bitches.

The five playable stadiums are above average, if too few in number. Camera men follow the ball; the fields are affected by the weather; grass looks like grass. The crowds, unfortunately, still suck. Sports games just won't be sports until the camera can cut away to a fully rendered, psychotic English footballer in the nosebleed section crushing a beer can on his wife's forehead.

audio

Cable TV caliber visuals require quality audio to complete the experience. John Motson and Andy Gray, play-by-play and color respectively, introduce themselves at the outset of every match. The commentary is so fluid and comprehensive that it affects an authentic ambiance. But they, like the visuals, can only sustain the illusion of live coverage for so long: after three or four matches, you'll start to hear repeat catch phrases. Still, that's better than every forty seconds, as it was on the N64.

Sound effects are routine but effective. EA's custom techno music is stimulating, and muted during gameplay to maintain the authentic professional atmosphere.

gameplay

FIFA is instantly accessible. While it still retains a heavier simulation focus than the competition, the very nature of soccer makes the sport a more shallow conversion to game format than American football, with fewer logistics to track and freer, arcade-style action. The result is a natural metamorphosis from field to console.

Prior to the GameCube's release, many held concerns that the unorthodox control pad would be practically incompatible with a game like this, especially being a port from the PlayStation 2. FIFA proves these concerns groundless. The axial A button functions as the center around which passing and shooting, tackling and sprinting actions are easily distinguished. During an intense crossover or heated defense, it is imperative that the correct button be pushed with precision timing: the action is well designed, and the GameCube's pad facilitates it.

A player's basic moves are pass, shoot, and tackle. A defender may tackle with finesse, or risk penalty with a more aggressive slide tackle. Offensive strategies are deepened by the ability to add spin to either passes or shots. The developers have integrated quick-pass and leading techniques to speed the action, and help even novices play like pros.

FIFA provides a quick-play option, which throws you immediately into a game with most options selected randomly, and four proper modes:

1. Friendly, a single customizable match,
2. FIFA World Cup Qualification,
3. Season, and
4. Tournaments, which features two traditional European tourneys and five unlockable Bonus tourneys.

Within the matches, almost any facet of the game is changeable: from the weather to the match length, referee strictness to the time of day. There are several tournaments and other secrets to unlock, including an 'Outtakes' movie in which the commentator pleads, "Remember the sacrifice we make for the beautiful game." Indeed.

multiplayer

Any of FIFA 2002's modes can be enjoyed by up to four players, in any vs. configuration. The game indicates offscreen players' position with the typical cursor, and maintains a good balance between keeping players on screen, and focusing on the ball and adjacent action. Four friends, a few beers, a bag of chips -- after a match or two, you'll believe your're sitting at a sports bar, watching the real thing.

overall

FIFA 2002 is a solid sports title. The graphics (while superior to the PS2 version) could be sharper, the options more varied, and the various modes better developed; and with FIFA 2002 World Cup due in April, you'll want to hold off from buying this one. While FIFA 2002 features the World Cup Qualification rounds, this April's update will allow players to compete in the World Cup itself.

If you can find this version marked down and don't need every frivolous detail included in this year's update, FIFA 2002 will satisfy. It doesn't have Madden's depth, but then, it doesn't have Madden's Mt. Everest learning curve, either.

For ease of play and value of replay, FIFA 2002 is simply the most enjoyable sports title presently on the Cube.

final score 8.8/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Gordon Distin
Staff Profile | Email
"In the room, the women come and go, talking of Miyamoto."


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