last years prize turkey award, EA Sports have had to dig deep to
repair the damage that they brought to the FIFA logo. Yeah, we want
quality graphics, but not to the extent where the gameplay moves
about as fast as a slug with a limp. In my opinion FIFA 97 was
unplayable. FIFA 98 Road to World Cup, on the other hand, could
almost become a 32-bit soccer classic.
Last year I sang the praises of ISS Pro which scaled new heights in
the graphical and gameplay departments. Actua Soccer 2 was a further
improvement by the inclusion of a management type customize mode and
top quality commentary. FIFA 98 more than matches Gremlins worthy
efforts and furthermore allows you to play out the entire World Cup
Tournament which is soon to reach a climax in France where the final
stages are to be held this summer.
long road to the World Cup began for many teams over two years ago.
FIFA 98 includes every single nation that participated in the
qualifying stages, each in their respective groups, just begging for
you to help them succeed this time around. Also included is every
single team and named player from eleven different countries premier
league soccer divisions, allowing you to play out an entire season
or enjoy a selection of single exhibition matches.
Sports could well be named MI Sports as they are fast becoming the
Masters of Intros. If the opening to NHL 98 blew your socks off then
prepare to become legless as Electronic Arts ups the tempo even
further for FIFA 98. A mixture of live footage, slick motion
captured animation, swooping aerial cameras, backed by a thunderous
soundtrack sets the scene perfectly.
For the first time I can ever remember I did not need to switch from
the recommended camera angle onto one of the more basic sideline
views. The Telecam works perfectly and captures all of the immediate
play while offering sufficient vision to allow a tidy passing game.
Another excellent view is given from the classic camera position
that is situated a little further back and at three quarter angle.
Should a goal hit the back of the net FIFA 98 shows the players
perform a selection of elaborate celebrations followed by an
immediate slow motion replay of the goal. The game moves along at a
fair pace and this is helped by not showing near misses and disputed
calls but instant replays can be viewed at any time by pausing the
game and entering the options menu.
The players strut their stuff in a selection of some of the worlds
most impressive stadium which are immaculately presented in high
resolution. During the game the crowds are given a bit of life by
the occasional flash from a camera while on field during floodlit
matches the players cast four-way shadows offering further realism
to the occasion.
Spurs French winger David Ginola has been motion captured by EA and
the outcome is a highly polished graphical representation of the
worlds most popular sport. The players look and move even smoother
than they did in ISS Pro but the speed is not quite there yet even
though they must be shifting five times faster than last years
FIFA 98 has all the customary weather settings which can be
individually selected or allowed to run freely by selecting the
random setting. The games take place in day, evening or night while
scortching hot conditions show a little lens flare on the screen and
stormy weather has blinding flashes of lightening streaking over the
Hoo, Woo Hoo. You just know that FIFA 98 is going to be something
special when the opening bars of Blur's Song 2 hammers out of the
speakers. You just can't stop yourself from blur-ting out the chorus
every time the ball hits the back of the net. Woo Hoo, Woo Hoo.
Once again the commentary is provided by the BBC's top sporting man
John Motson only this time he is introduced by Des Lynam and sits
alongside Sky Sports pundit Andy Grey who summarizes the action.
Combined, this trio serve to set the scene before each match while
during play, not only is the player on the ball given a name
mention, but reaction is offered to his skills and errors. Half time
and full time opinions are offered and if you listen carefully a
certain amount of tactical advice is included that may be useful.
Thankfully the crowd sounds have been accurately recorded in a sound
package that never becomes boring or too repetitive.
FIFA series has always featured quality graphics and I am pleased to
inform you that the gameplay has finally caught up. The 97 version
caused serious damage to my thumbs caused by excess pressure on the
pads as I attempted to push the players into a jog. Now an increase
in speed sees the forwards zip up the wing with pace rather than
wearily trudge along the sidelines. The run button need not be held
down constantly as it works better if sudden bursts are given when
entering the box, allowing you a little extra space to get in that
all important shot.
When attacking, a single press of the pass button provides an
accurate stroke of the ball while a double tap puts a little more
pace on it for a through pass. A similar system allows a lob to
become a through lob and a shot becomes a chip shot, thus doubling
up the amount of actions. The top shoulder buttons are set for
backpass and evade tackle while double taps make your player perform
a dive or run on to the perfect position to receive the ball.
When defending the face buttons impliment sliding tackles, normal
tackles, sprint and switch control of player. The shoulder buttons
are for aggressive tackles and the now illegal elbow tackle. A press
of the R2 button or combining it with any face button holds a
selection of skill moves, of which some have never been seen on a
video soccer game before.
As with most FIFA games you can spend an age tinkering around in the
options menu and FIFA 98 is no different. In fact there is little
within the game that cannot be tampered with. Take a deep breath and
get a load of this: Match length, replay, continuous clock, time and
score display, radar, visual indicators, player numbers, kit
clashing, camera views, offside, injuries, ref strictness, bookings,
subs, fatigue, attributes, catch-up, music, commentary, sound
effects, difficulty level, shot targeting, skill mode, AI assist,
auto crosses, pass-back, sub management, starting line up,
formation, strategy, aggression, kick takers, positioning, attacking
bias, half length, weather, day/night and stadium. That's not the
half of it because within the main menu is a customize squad option
that allows you to transfer players, create your own team, alter the
genetic make up of your players abilities, skin color, facial
features, facial hair and color. This 'do-it-yourself mode makes you
wonder why we need developers, don't you think.
Back to basics. There are five modes of play. A friendly exhibition
game between any of the available world or club sides. A penalty
shoot-out between any two teams. An excellent training program for
you to practice defensive and attacking scenarios. This allows you
to take part in a number of set plays such as defending or taking
corners, taking or defending free kicks and you may even take part
in a full training match. The League option allows you to play out a
full season as the team of your choice. The big deal is obviously
playing out the qualifying rounds on the Road to the World Cup.
Finish top of your group and you head off to France to take part in
the finals. There is a safety net in the form of a best runners up
knockout. See, just like the real thing.
excellent addition to any soccer fans video game collection. It's
almost as good to watch as it is to play.
looked long and hard at FIFA 98 for quite a few weeks now and
although it's not perfect it is difficult to find fault. This I
found strange as EA's soccer games have recently survived on the
strength of the FIFA logo rather than the content behind the
brandishing name. I say it's not perfect because it does suffer from
that age old problem of shit goalkeepers who race to the edge of the
box to collect a loose ball and then run away scared leaving a stray
attacker to easily pop the ball into an empty net. Should they solve
this problem and find a way to up the speed a little more then EA
should have a seriously good soccer title on their hands.
simply this is the best of many Soccer simulations that have been
released for the PlayStation. It is both easy to pick up during the
early stages and yet challenging to the more experienced player when
the difficulty levels are raised.
Add to that the massive amount of teams to choose from (Both
Domestic and International teams are available), the quality of the
graphics and animation, and the huge number of in-game options that
are available and you will begin to see why this game will surely
become the biggest selling soccer game to date!
Contratulations must go to E.A, who at last have come up with a game
that matches the pre-sales hype.
can be only one and this is it.Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Fifa 98 is THE soccer game for the PlayStation. Looks like E.A have
finally come up with the goods after their two previous (sloppy rush
em' out for Christmas) efforts. It's all there - Fantastic
sound,fluid animation,context sensitive commentary,excellent
computer AI and a wealth of customisable options that are both
understandable and for the tactically minded a sub game in
themselves. Gameplay is the word.
Many people have posed the question ISS PRO or FIFA 98. Now you know
the answer. The King is dead,long live the King.
Derek has written a brilliant READERS REVIEW
of this game which can be seen in the MEMBERS ONLY section of this