FIFA Soccer World Championship Review
EA's cyber athletes have landed on the PS2 and they are looking better than ever. We all knew that we would be seeing companies like EA releasing their huge sports franchises on next-gen systems. EA has been very loyal to PS owners so it was no surprise to anyone when the company showed off their huge sports lineup for PS2. The eye catchers were NFL Madden 2001 and FIFA 2001. Both games showcased the PS2's awesome power and as well as starting much comparisons to Sega titles such as NFL 2K1. FIFA 2001 will launch with the PS2 on 10/26/00 but in the meantime we have it's Japanese twin reviewed, check it out.
If the first generation PS2 games are looking this intriguing, imagine how 4th or even 5th generation games will look like. The graphics are a huge leap over the PS' visuals, or even the PC's visuals. The anti-aliasing problem seems to have disappeared into thin air because all soccer players are super smooth with not one "jaggy" in sight. Motion capturing has never looked better, there have been new motions included into the PS2 version, but the older ones found in the PS and PC versions of 2000 have returned. Things like new celebrations have been added, just like before their are some recognizable ones but there are also new ones. The field and all of the backgrounds have received an overhaul of detail. When the camera pulls out you can see the spectators doing the wave or just rooting for their team. Another big plus is the waving flags, signs, and towels that are shown in the background. What's weird is that on a system like the PS2 you still have some occasional slowdown, though it isn't very noticeable it's there. Player detail is marvelously good, the player animations are so immersely detailed that I can't look away from the game even once. In fact the detail is so high that you can actually see the players muscles and veins, damn! So far FIFA Soccer on PS2 is the best looking game I have seen, EA will surely be one of the first ones to push the PS2.
The gameplay remains identical to the PS and PC counterpart of the 2000 game. The only difference are the menus and teams, the whole game is in Japanese, even the commentary, but since I have been playing FIFA 2000 to death I was able to get around the game's selections and options without a problem. The controller configuration has also remained the same both on offense and defense. Like any FIFA game you have your regular play modes such as Exhibition, Season, and Training. Everything you played in FIFA 2000 (PS or PC) has remained the same, the only huge difference is the huge visual improvement. What impressed me was how much EA Sports was able to make FIFA Soccer play more like a simulation game rather than an arcade game. Whenever I play the PS or PC versions it always feels as if the action is too fast and isn't like the real thing, but playing the PS2 version of FIFA feels so authentic. Players move around the arena so smoothly and realistically, and the speed is just like real Soccer. The PS2 version of FIFA is so detailed that even the way the players run on the field seems as if I was watching a live televised game. Leaving most of FIFA's key features alone was an excellent idea on EA's part, it allows gamers like me who have killed previous FIFA games to adjust much faster. A definite thumbs up for FIFA Soccer.
That old EA commentary has yet again returned. FIFA Soccer has remarkable commentary, it may be spoken all in Japanese but I have not heard the same Japanese phrase repeated yet. The quality and clarity is much better than anything else you'll find on any other system or PC. Sound effects bone crunches and whistles all sound as if the action is happening around you, especially when the crowd goes wild, that's when everything heats up.
EA Sports has done an outstanding job with FIFA Soccer (which will be called FIFA 2001 in the US), the things that the game is doing on my PS2 can't even be done on the most sophisticated PC's, not until in a few years. Consoles have finally surpassed PC's and it will take quite a while for PC's to get their visual edge back, don't you think? Overall FIFA Soccer World Championship is another big reason to pre-order a PS2 right now. Kudos to EA Sports for prevailing yet again.
6/2/2000 Arnold Katayev