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FIFA World Cup 2002 Package Art
 GENRE
  Sports
 DEVELOPER
  EA Canada
 PUBLISHER
  EA Sports
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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FIFA World Cup 2002

The greatest spectacle on Earth. No, I’m not talking about a Brooke Burke Playboy spread, and you can calm down all your mothers and sisters because I’m not taking off my shirt (this would truly be a spectacle). In the sporting world, nothing touches the global presence and excitement of the World cup tournament. People of all ages and nationalities will unite in a passion for the beautiful game as the biggest tournament in sports kicks off in Asia this summer. EA’s crazy Canucks have created a game that captures the splendor of the tournament both visually, aurally and in terms of game play.

I do feel cheated here though because the World Cup edition of the FIFA series also seems like the biggest whore of the entire EA sports line up. Look at that beautiful gold trinket on the cover; shining and selling copy after copy of a game that in reality is just a “patch” or “tournament edition.” While EA sports captures the joy of World Cup play it is also very restricted by the confines of the tournament. You only get two play modes with this game, friendly and tournament, and that just isn’t enough.

I think that EA would’ve come correct if they‘d knocked some bling bling off of the sale price of this “special edition” version so that you wouldn’t feel so cheated. But as is, you can’t just play exhibitions and tournaments over and over, there’s no depth features here including: all the create-a-_____ options, franchise mode; nothing! Everything is kicked up a notch from the plain 2002 edition of FIFA in terms of the entire game experience. But EA would’ve done better to include every single national team (instead of just a few) and allowed you to at least attempt to qualify for the World Cup and THEN play in it. That would’ve been a deeper game. As it is, this game is a fantastic playing experience but way too shallow for today’s sports games in terms of modes and features.

visuals

While the animations are nowhere near the quality of ISS64 the clarity and crowd ambience and detail is staggering. WC is even a step up above its predecessor. I was really impressed to see the amount of effort put into the stadium crowds. Mind you, unlike other FIFA titles, EA Canada didn’t have to represent hundreds of international stadiums. Only the stadiums in the tournament are involved here but EA certainly made every single one of them count. You’ll be stunned at the crowd celebrations, the balloons and flags fluttering in the wind, it’s all very believable.

All of the cut scenes after near misses and fouls are brilliantly executed. I would like to have seen a lot more crowd cut scenes though, similar to the ones used in the EA NHL series (you know that one that EA is too full of sh*t to bring to the Gamcube?). More crowd representation can mean more immersion in the game. Having said that, the cut scenes are totally seamless, well executed, and add to the drama of the game.

I like the addition of the star player icon above certain players heads during game play. This helps you focus on your more talented players. Also, the new passing icon vs. the old off-screen passing icons is well done. The overlaying power meter for passes and shots are really nicely done and functional. Finally, the camera during game play is excellent as it always keeps you in the game and doesn’t become a nuissance.

A very important word of warning: before you even begin the game please go into the option and turn up the game speed to at least “fast”. This game really really moves too slowly and bogs down every chance it gets. So turning up the speed is crucial.

The front-end menus are easy enough to use and navigate but they certainly aren’t as explosive as the in game visuals. In fact, they’re as exciting as signing for a mortgage. You can do better EA!

Finally, if you really get tired of the redundant friendly or tournament action, you can always watch some DVD quality movies about soccer. As if this is supposed to be a real bonus... but they’re there and it makes me wish that my purple shoe box could play DVD’s.

audio

Out-freaking-standing! When you really take a crack at the ball you can hear your player “umph” as he cranks it. Much like Sega’s NBA series you can hear the players interact with each other on the pitch, whether it’s calling for the ball or yelling at each other. One thing that’s definitely been improved is the sound of the ball. In previous games, kicking the ball sounded like hitting a well-filled scrotum. Instead, the ball now strikes sound full and rich.

Coupled with the visual aura of the magical world cup games are the beautiful and rich sounds of the stadium during game play. Taking a cue from the invincible ISS64 (still the greatest soccer game EVER made) you can hear all the whistles, drums and screams from the raucous international fans. I had my speakers absolutely cranked for my first game of World cup and it was stunning how rich the audioscape is. Very impressive EA.

The musical accompaniment is as refined as the WC tournament itself. In fact, the string symphony that backs up the game is highlighted at the opening movie of this title. EA went with the tasteful choice here, and it works. Besides -- who needs another Blur soundtrack?!?

gameplay

I have to reiterate that the lack of game play modes restricts the enjoyment of this game. I wish that EA Sports would’ve included the option to take ANY international team rather than only the ones that have qualified for the tournament: select any international team, complete a “season” where you have to qualify for the tournament, and then play the World Cup with the ratings that you garnered through the season. You know? Just like any other sports game? Instead, all you get from 2002 FIFA World Cup is World Cup (playoff tree) and friendly. This simply is just not enough for a full priced game. It’s not like this is the first time EA Sports has cashed in on a world cup year with three different games, so there is precedent here. Combining FIFA 2002 and World Cup 2002 into a single title would have been the generous thing for the consumer.

As for the actual game play… very well done. Almost on ISS quality (but not quite). There’s definitely a more refined feeling to the control and game play mechanics. From the lead passing to the new ball “juggling” (ha!) that involves every button on your controller, improved airplay, one-twos using your C stick, and so much more, this game really does offer a solid bevy of control options. While the FIFA series never did feel as smooth and fun as the ISS series, this latest installment from EA certainly gets bloody close. I will say this, the game play of FIFA has come a damned long way since the original FIFA 64. EA has to be commended for offering a true soccer simulation rather than a game where players catch fire and turn into monsters or Pokemon or some other immature crap. Even if we don’t get an updated ISS this summer for the Cube, I’d be happy with the FIFA series because of its excellent progression recently.

multiplayer

I opened a bottle of homemade wine, called an uncle my dad and my best friend over (we’re all W.O.Ps.), set the game to amateur mode and took Italy straight to glory. It was a great time! It was a real education too, because I never even knew half of the Italian swear words that my uncle spewed out over the course of that cup run. Nice! This may be the only reason to come back to this game after beating it, so it’s a good thing that EA made accommodations for full four player support.

overall

Again, I don’t agree with EA sports whoring the World Cup license and not living up to it by providing a full assortment of options. They either should’ve included more teams and a “season” option or simply just lowered the price by about twenty bucks (CAN.) to make this a novelty purchase that’s certainly worth those type of bucks. Having said all that, this game kicks its predecessor in the ass. It looks better, plays better, sounds better and damnit, it just feels right. If you have the first GC version of FIFA you may just want to hang on to it until FIFA 2003 comes out with a full franchise mode instead of trading it in for the Coppa di Mondial version of FIFA. Make no mistake, this is a better playing game and presentation, but it is lacking serious depth.

Still though, maybe it’s the Italian in me, but when I saw that trophy on the shelf in my local game shop, I had to have this game. Some of you may want to rent it first. Besides, if you’re a sports nut, what else can you buy for the GC? Jeremy McGrath? Yeah right! Don't make me reach through your monitor and bitch slap you.

final score 8.0/10





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Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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