EA Sports
Electronic Arts
Sports
1-4
04.23.02

2002 FIFA World Cup


I always used to be a fan of the FIFA games ever since the first one that I played on the Sega Genesis, and I loved it. And then seeing the graphics and style advance so much with Fifa 97. I was in awe. But I must admit that the last good FIFA Soccer game that I played was World Cup 98 which was released on multiple platforms. All of the games since then have just become worse and worse. They weren't fun to play. So when I picked this one up, I was skeptical. But once again EA has brought out another good Official World Cup game.

Graphics

The best graphics that I have seen in a soccer game thus far. It really is something to behold. The stadiums are modelled accurately and look really great. Then you have the crowds. With flags waving and different sections wearing their team's colours just adds to the atmosphere. The fans jump up and down as well. The players are modelled really accurately as well and you can clearly make out each individual just by looking at their faces. I have never been able to play a soccer game knowing which player I was controlling at that very moment without toggling the player name's option, but each player is clearly distinguishable in World Cup 2002. The only problem that I have with it, is that the heads appear to be a bit large. Some of them look REALLY big. But it's not an annoying problem.

Sound

EA really payed attention to the sound. It's not just the crowds cheering. You hear the touch of boot against ball. You hear your teammates calling for the pass when they are in the open. You hear the ball hitting the back of the net. It all works really well. And the atmosphere and roars of the crowd is even better than in previous games. They cheer when you do well. They boo when a foul takes place, or when they think that the ref should have blown the whistle. And the eruption that occurs when you score a last minute winning goal is enough to give you goosebumps.

And for once, they have actually made an effort with the music. And at the same time they have tried something new, which I am pleased to report works very well with this game. What they have done is to compose an original symphonic soundtrack with an orchestra. The music is dramatic and suits the World Cup perfectly. It doesn't play during the game, which is a good thing, because then it just wouldn't feel as realistic. But when you score a goal and your players begin their cutscene style celebrations, the band strikes up a stirring tune which just makes you feel good about the goal you just scored. If you score an own goal, the music is of a darker tone, and makes you despair for your error. All in all, a truly masterful soundtrack.

Gameplay

This, as with most games, is the make or break factor which will determine whether the game is any good or not. As seen in previous FIFA incarnations, great graphics with some terrible gameplay add up to a shoddy attempt at a soccer game. Fortunately, World Cup 2002 does not suffer from this. The gameplay is rather good. They have added a new passing system, concerning through-balls. Press the white button, and the player that you are facing will go on a run up the field, and you will see indicators showing you where to pass. Now it is difficult to master, but if you can get the pass just right, your player will be in the open with a shot at goal. This is a great system, which requires quite a bit of practise to use. The other passing and shooting systems have also been brushed up, and they have made the tackling and sliding for defense more realistic.

Another new feature is that you have star players. These are easy to see because they have a white star over their heads. Some teams have plenty of them, some have one or none, but they do help out in the game. For example, a star player could be an exceptional passer, who will find the mark a lot easier than a normal player. Or a star player that is a strong defender will make a legal tackle and get the ball a lot better than a normal player. This system also works very well, and you will find yourself moving the ball around a lot to try and get it to your stars.

And as for continuity, if you are a huge fan of soccer, this game could last until the next decent FIFA comes out. If you not really a fan, but like the World Cup, then this game will last you until it is over and you have had enough of soccer to last a lifetime. Even then, it's at least 3 months, which is quite long. There are hidden teams to unlock to keep you going as well, and let's not forget playing it with a few friends. Multiplayer always adds to the longevity of sports games. It will last a while. Maybe not being played constantly, but you will definitely pick it up at least once every 2 days and have a few matches.

Bottom Line:

All in all, a very good soccer game. As I have said before, the past few years of FIFA have been filled with lackluster games that really don't make you feel as if you are playing the beautiful game. Finally, EA has made a return to good soccer games. And what better to do it with than the Official World Cup game. Buy it!

-Ben Kirsten




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