November 25, 2001
FIFA Football 2002 - Review
Until only a couple of weeks ago when Sony's impressive This Is Soccer 2002 was released there were really only two major soccer games available on consoles. The biggest of these is Electronic Arts' FIFA series which is now well over a decade old and has sold millions of copies worldwide. Meanwhile Konami have been releasing their International Superstar Series for almost as long, and despite slower sales has earned the respect of gamers for their simulation style gameplay as opposed to the arcade style found in FIFA. Electronic Arts have listened to the criticism from gamers and with this game have begun to move FIFA towards a more realistic simulation of the worlds most popular sport. FIFA 2002 is a massive departure from the previous games with plenty of changes designed to keep fans happy. But have the changes worked?
|Player detail is improved yet again.|
One of the most impressive things about FIFA 2002 is the amount of teams and options available. The game includes 16 leagues and over 500 different teams from around the world. You also have the chance to participate in 10 tournaments as well as the World Cup Qualification through the AFC, CONCACAF, UEFA, CONMEBOL etc. The game also includes a basic card system to unlock tournament but it is nothing like the detailed Card game in Madden NFL 2002 or NHL 2002. The game is rounded out with the standard game modes such as quick play, seasons etc and also includes a detailed roster management and a creation mode where you can edit teams uniforms, player stats and even entirely new players through one of the most detailed player creation utilities ever seen.
|This one of the in-game viewpoints.|
The biggest change to FIFA 2002 is in the passing game. No longer will a ball stick to one players feet, be passed across the field and the sick to a recipients feet. This game requires precision passing with the analogue stick to hit the intended player. As a result it is now possible to pass the ball into open space ahead of a player so he can run onto the ball. The developers have even included a trail on players who are potentially running onto the ball. It opens up a whole new set of plays and opportunities for gamers and increases the skill level required to become successful in the game. While passing the ball you will also have to keep your eye on a power meter, which determines the strength of the pass or lob. More power increases the speed of the pass reducing the chance of it being cut off, but also increasing the chance of your player missing the ball or gathering it in to take a shot on goal.
Also changed is the shooting for goal. FIFA 2002 now includes a power meter to determine the strength of the kick as well as, more interestingly, using the analogue buttons on the controller to determine the height of the ball. This is quite a change from the standard shooting for goal in the past games. By doing this the developers have given gamers a much more precise way to shoot on goal.
|Yet more close action.|
It must be said that the changes made to this game are very welcome, and for the most part they work very well. My biggest complaint is that the passing system becomes infuriating when you only want to pass the ball a few meters. At long range it's easy to cut off a pass, but at short range the power meter, even with the briefest of touches, the ball often goes straight past the intended recipient. Perhaps a button to pass to the nearest player would be a great inclusion for next year.
As you can probably see from the surrounding screenshots the graphics in FIFA 2002 are very impressive. The first thing will hit you is the stadiums which are extremely lively with the best crowds ever seen in a video game without a doubt. The actual grass texturing is extremely well done with varying color patches across the field. The animation on the players is quite solid with very few jerky movements. The actual players themselves are quite detailed although their facial texturing and expressions leaves something to be desired. While they are varied in their appearance their likelihood to some of the players is questionable (have a look at Australia's Kewell and Vidmar to see what I mean). The only other complaint I have is that the players all look too similar in both size an appearance from a distance which makes telling them apart on sight a near impossibility.
As with previous games the sound in FIFA 2002 is of very high quality. The commentary by John Motson an Andy Grey is quite realistic and fluid with many great colourful and insightful comments made throughout the match. The music which includes tracks provided by the Ministry of Sound are upbeat and quite refreshing, even when playing a game, although it will still come down to your own personal music tastes. The only disappointment with the game is the crowd noise which seems a little flat and monotonous. More variety, such as a cheer from sections of the crowd for an off field incident, more liveliness in the exciting parts of the game etc would have been welcomed.
|Check out the action on the screen.|
This is a tough game to assess. Electronic Arts have made a bold decision to move FIFA away from an arcade style to more of a simulation game. The problem is that Konami's ISS and Sony's This Is Soccer 2002 have that genre pretty well covered. Still, the changes Electronic Arts have made in FIFA 2002 are significant and yet won't alienate fans of the series. Graphically, FIFA 2002 is very solid with some wonderful texturing and fluid animation while the number of options is impressive. Is it actually better then This is Soccer 2002 from Sony or Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer? That's a tough call. While I haven't seen Konami's effort enough to judge it this game is about level with Sony's stunner from a couple of weeks ago. It's your choice, but whichever game you chose you can't go wrong.
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