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The F.A. Premier League Stars 2001 allows players to experience the fast paced action of the English Premier League right from the start of the 2000 / 2001 season. Including all the Premier League soccer clubs, kits, stadiums and most importantly... their star players.
It all begins pretty much the same as last years 'Stars' effort with gripping 'live action' footage building the adrenaline up to fever pitch. before sadly letting us down with flawed in-game control, delayed sound effects and problematical visuals.
It's such a shame because graphically there is much to admire. Every Premier teams stadium has been immaculately rendered to provide a realistic venue for each game. The players bare a slight resemblance to their real name counterpart, movement is smooth and passing effective.. Then the bugs raise their ugly heads. After only two friendly games I noticed intermittent slowdown when the weather was set onto rainy conditions. Occasional frame freezing when the ball was played back to defenders. The visuals sometimes stuttered when in a goal scoring position. The ball actually disappeared from the feet of a player, only to reappear a few seconds later. And as for the replays. paper-thin pictures badly cut out from a scrapbook. Surely there can be no excuses from the same company that bring us the FIFA series of games.!
Once again Richard Keys sits smugly in the studio, while stuck up on a gantry somewhere are Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray. The match commentary is not too bad with predictions, comments and trivia during the game, but some of the delays between action 'happening' and commentator 'remarking' are somewhat embarrassing. This is most obvious when the ball hits the back of the net.. (...wait for it.) (.not be long now..) (.watch the celebrations first.) (.any time... now.) ."Goal!"
As far as game modes go there are the usual friendlies, seasons, custom leagues and practice facilities. The main difference with F.A. Premier League Stars comes to light in the Season mode. Your chosen team is awarded Star Points after each game relating to their performance. The player then takes on the role of manager and distributes these evenly among the squad... thus improving their skill factor. Should your striker repeatedly miss the target, simply boost up his star rating in the shooting category. Are your defenders too slow and couldn't head a paper bag? Then move up their speed and heading rating a few notches and reap the rewards.
'Stars Challenges' are a terrific new addition to the gameplay. Before beginning a Friendly or Custom match you may (or may not) be offered a challenge. For example this could be to score three goals with a specific player during the upcoming game. Should you decide to take on the challenge a certain amount of your teams Stars must be placed as a stake on the bet. Complete the task and win some Stars, fail and your Star Bank will be debited accordingly. The game also features a brand new 'Stars Stakes' system which will enable the user to play against a human opponent whilst wagering their players on the outcome of the game.
Now all of this 'Star' gameplay sounds like fun, and it should be. Sadly EA Sports have in their wisdom decided not to include a manual 'switch player' button. Instead you get an 'intelligent switching' system where the CPU decides which player is controlled by the joypad. So if an opponent breaks away from the half-way line you cannot pick the defender furthest back to intercept the attacker head on. Instead the CPU usually gives you control of a midfielder who must chase back and often commit a foul by tackling from behind. Unfortunately this also happens when both teams are controlled by human players. I also found the AI (artificial intelligence) very poor. On one occasion two CPU controlled strikers reached my teams penalty box way ahead of my defenders and insisted on passing it back and forth until the referee awarded an offside decision. Meanwhile my goalkeeper (whom cannot be controlled) followed the line of the ball like a dog transfixed on a throwing stick. Amazingly poor!
· Bigger Squads - manage a squad of 22 players and totally control their on and off pitch development.
· New Transfer Market - transfer market includes world class STARS available to purchase.
· Ball Curling - fire in amazing free kicks.
· Improved Shooting System - send in rocket shots from all over the pitch.
· Intelligent Player Switching - improved AI to give the user control of the most appropriate player to intercept the ball.
· New time of day and weather features - day will turn to night and a clear sky will cloud over and rain.
· F.A Premier League Licence - the only officially licensed product that can give you the English F.A. Premier League.
· STARS Stakes - play against your friends and add to the drama of playing for stakes. Wager your best players on the outcome of matches in the ultimate test of YOUR talent.
· STARS Challenges - more opportunities to win STARS by performing spectacular skills on the pitch.
Number of Disks: 1
Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 10
Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 2
Multi-tap compatible (max players): Yes (4)
Link-cable compatible (max players): No
Split screen multi-player option (max players): No
Other accessories: None
Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes