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A.P.I Review: FIFA 99
Developer: EA Sports OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: EA 1-8 Player
Game Type: Sports Sim Memory Card
Review Date: December 1998 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Yes, EA Sports are once again in control of that mega money making 
juggernaut that just keeps on rolling forward, crushing all that pass 
in it's way and without the slightest glance in the rear view mirror 
to the trail of destruction left behind.  Who would have thought that 
four simple letters could be so powerful... especially when the first 
is an 'F'?

All around the world gamers will awaken on December 25th and scream 
to their loved one's "Where the 'F' is my annual dose of F*%@."

I can hardly believe it's that time of the year again.

No, not Christmas........................... FIFA-mas.


FIFA is back - bigger and bolder than ever. The most successful and popular football game ever returns after two World Cup licenced games. As you'd expect, FIFA 99 provides more teams, more ways to play and much more excitement, so get on the pitch and take your team to glory.


I'll not bore you with the history of FIFA video games, I will only mention that no matter which system or format EA Sports have developed for they have always stretched the graphical boundaries to the limit. The perfect example of this was FIFA '96 which outsold it's nearest PlayStation rival approximately five fold. It must be said that it was definitely not five times better in gameplay terms than say... Actua Soccer (in fact if truth be known it was probably two times worse), but visually it was pretty as a peach.

FIFA '97 also looked good but was almost unplayable. Yeah, we wanted quality graphics, but not to the extent where the gameplay moved about as fast as a slug with a limp. FIFA 98 Road to World Cup, on the other hand, set the record straight and has since become a 32-bit soccer classic.

So where do we go from here?
I'll tell you where. Backwards!
Hold on! Hold on! Before you switch off all of your senses this is not a problem, more an improvement. You see EA Sports created a masterpiece back in '97 but they hadn't quite worked out how to get those tasty polygon players up to full fitness. Subsequent games never quite captured the realism of those visuals which were sacrificed for a faster frame rate. I am pleased to announce that they have finally succeeded. The graphics are as good as that early Playstation version but speed is now of the essence and on normal setting the players move around at lightening pace. Switching the tempo up to the fastest setting sees the ball passed around at the speed expected from that in a pinball machine.

The motion capture is excellent as players twist and turn in a realistic style allowing them to execute directional changes and skill moves in the middle of turns. The players now have different heights, increased shading and strut their stuff in a selection of some of the worlds most impressive stadium from Manchester to Istanbul which are immaculately presented in high resolution.

Sounds and Effects

The intro is once again up to EA's usual high standards mixing in game animations with cool CG clips and live occasional live action. Of course blending the splendid visuals with the correct music is something EA have also become master of. Blur were great. So were Chumbawumba. FIFA 99 hits the correct note once again with the brilliant Rockerfella Skank from Fatboy Slim. There's also a few tunes in there from Lion Rock, God Within and Gearwhore. Hip-hop it's time to rock!

English voice overs are once again provided by a top BBC commentary team that includes John Motson (I say Des...), Des Lynam (Mr Smooth Guy who doesn't sweat... he perspires), Gary Lineker (Gazza once stole my crisps), Chris Waddell (I once worked in a sausage factory in Tyne & Wear), and Mark Lawrenson (I once coached Newcastle United's defence and look where they are now). I was also interested to browse through the language options and find David Ginola and José Manuel Pinto offering French and Spanish comments respectively. It's class, but what did you expect.


So why would you want to but FIFA 99 when you may already have FIFA RTWC and World Cup 98? Updated stats is one possible reason as each team is accurate to within the last two months. Of course so much can happen in soccer in such a short period of time therefore the main benefit with FIFA 99 is the comprehensive player, team and management edit screens. So Guivarc'h has moved on to Rangers and Ferguson has been bought as his replacement. No problem when using the transfer system to strengthen your team or raise valuable funding. Ah, but surely Manchester United will be changing their team strip again this month? Simple, alter the color and pattern of their team colors to match those in real life. What if Gascoigne bleaches his hair again, grows a beard or gains a red nose? Hair type, hair color, skin color , face and facial hair may all be adjusted to suit.

Once you have dressed your team accordingly the normal abundance of gameplay, audio and match options may be tampered with. The only new additions worth mentioning are that out of game cinemas may be switched off allowing play to rapidly continue.

Playing options begin with a Practice mode where penalty kicks, free kicks, corners or a full training match may be considered. This is worth a quick visit if only to try out a few of the new special techniques including fakes, rainbow kick, lateral left, 360° and step over nutmegs. Should you prefer to dive straight into the action there is a Quick Start mode that randomly chooses teams, stadium and conditions leaving you only to kick the ball and score the goals.

Season Mode takes your club to Championship glory, with a choice from 220 club sides in 12 of the world's top domestic leagues.

Custom Leagues and Cups enables you to play in any league or any cup you want, with between 2 - 24 teams.

European Dream League consists of Europe's top 20 teams and stadiums, taken from the strongest domestic leagues in the world.

EA Sports Cups have three differently structured cup formats allowing you to simulate even more European competition. There's the Cup Winners Cup, EFA Trophy and the Champions League.

Finally there is the all new Golden Goal Competition. A great idea that takes your mind off the clock... because there isn't one. Simply decide before kick off how many goals must be scored to become the winner and off you go.

Handling and control of the player on the ball is quick, accurate and responsive while playing the game is quite simply a pleasure. The new chest trapping action seems to allow more control with a ball in the air than before and may also be used to shield the ball from the defenders - Alan Shearer style. The AI has been increased in so much as wing back runs and offside traps may be exercised at the push of a button. Thankfully the goalkeeping problem seems to have been finally sorted out. They no longer race towards 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.

Value for Money

I am normally the biggest critic of these yearly sporting updates which are churned out simply to squeeze more money from the average punter. However I do believe that '99 is probably the best FIFA soccer game to date. Of course that statement may only last until FIFA 2,000 turns up.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 If there was one fault it would be that because FIFA 99 is so easy to pick up and play then the boredom factor could set in much quicker than a game that took longer to get to grips with. After half an hours play I had found the perfect scoring position which seemed to work almost every single time.

My sole question to EA would be if Germany has Thon on the box cover, Portugal has Rui Costa, France has Brathez, Italy has Vieri and Spain has Morientes... why does the UK version feature the Dutchman Bergkamp? Just asking!

What more can I say than FIFA 99 is slightly better than FIFA 98. An excellent addition to any soccer fans video game collection which is almost as good to watch as it is to play.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 18/20


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