|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||WORLD CUP '98|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Distributor:||Electronic Arts||1-8 Player|
|Game Type:||Sports Sim||Multi-tap|
|Review Date:||May 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Remember FIFA '96? Don't worry, it was instantly forgettable. Surely you remember FIFA '97? Shame, because although the game played about as fast as an uphill slug race the graphics were commendable. Then we had FIFA '98 Road to World Cup. Ahhh, finally EA Sports had cracked it. After three years of trying (and I dare say countless early redundancies in the process) Playstation gamers at last had a soccer game to be proud of. Furthermore this title was ever so generous in playability. Not only could you partake in the long qualifying road to the World Cup but you could actually play out the entire Finals in France 98. If that was not enough the game included every single team and named player from eleven different countries Premier League soccer divisions, allowing you to participate in an entire season or enjoy a selection of single exhibition matches. Barely four months later we hear about another EA Sports title being prepared for launch. What's this, another World Cup game already? Well, yes only this time there's not an 'F' word in sight. What sort of skullduggery is going on here, an EA Sports soccer game without the undeniably successful FIFA logo attached? Ah, but it does hold the only official France '98 World Cup license. Surely it could not have been programmed in Canada and Seattle where their FIFA soccer game engine lies? Actually it was and remarkably it also features many of the same top footballing names who were motion captured for a certain FIFA '98. So what you are saying is that World Cup '98 is the same game as FIFA Road to World Cup '98? No, err, Yes, em, No. Look I have hummed and harred during daylight, tossed and turned at night, all because I couldn't decide which way to write this review. Should I compare it with FIFA '98? What if the reader had never played a FIFA game before? I finally decided to describe the game as it stands in it's own right, offering occasional remarks and comparisons between the two.
EA SPORTS' World Cup 98 is the exclusive, official interactive game of France 98, the largest sporting event of the century. Created by the makers of the internationally-acclaimed FIFA Soccer series, World Cup 98 delivers all the action of the World Cup tournament in precise detail including all 32 teams and 10 World Cup stadiums.
On first loading World Cup '98 I sat back and watched a short demo match between Italy and Greece. As the players took to the field of play the amount of detail was simply breathtaking and anyone catching a glimpse of this demo mode while wandering through a game store would undoubtedly be reeled in for a closer inspection. Equally impressive was the opening title screen which easily slots into my Top 5 EA Sports game intros. A mixture of live action footage captured by intricately positioned cameras, backed by a thunderous soundtrack sets the scene perfectly. They certainly know how to raise the temperature to boiling point even before a ball has been kicked off. I was a little uncertain when a large blue cock kept popping up throughout the proceedings but you had best get use to him because Footix is the official France 98 mascot and he appears everywhere. However it's in-game visuals that really matter and boy have they got it right again. It seems that the players shirts and shorts actually hang and flap from their bodies while each nations home and away kit has been accurately represented. Each of the players bares a vague resemblance to their real life counterpart and apparently a different player has been motion captured for every position on the pitch, including David Ginola, striker Roy Lassiter (U.S. National Team/ Tampa Bay Mutiny), midfielder Preki Radosavljevic (U.S. National Team/ Kansas City Wizards), goalie Mark Dodd (U.S. National Team/Dallas Burn) and defenseman Cle Kooiman (Miami Fusion). My initial reaction was that there had been a massive improvement over the FIFA 98 graphics but when I ran the two games side by side the difference was not as much as had I first thought. In fact if challenged I would have to say that the graphics had more of a similarity to FIFA 97, only this time the players game speed keeps up with the flow of play. Once again the recommended camera angle proved suffice as the Telecam worked perfectly and captured 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, World Cup 98 shows the players perform a selection of elaborate celebrations followed by an immediate slow motion replay of the goal. The players may strut their stuff in all ten of the impressive stadium being used in the France 98 tournament which have been immaculately presented and accurately rendered. During the game the crowds are given a bit of life by the occasional flash from a camera. World Cup 98 has all the customary weather settings which can be individually selected or allowed to run freely by selecting the random setting.
Sounds and Effects
"We'll be singin', when we're winnin'" "Ah get brought down, but ah get up again, ain't never gonna keep me down". Hot on the heels of Blur's Song 2 (FIFA 98) comes another classic in the form of Chumbawamba's Tubthumping to smack you straight between the eyes and really kick off the mood for yet another fantastic feast of football. An additional neat touch is when the players first take to the field and line up for inspection - each teams National Anthem can be heard blasting out from the stadium public address system. The crowd sounds have been accurately recorded in a sound package that never becomes boring or too repetitive. Similar to FIFA 98 the introductions once again come from Des Lynam while the commentary is provided by the BBC's top sporting man John Motson. This time he sits alongside the former North East sausage factory worker and 'legendary' England winger, Chris Waddle who summarizes all of the action. Further words of wisdom are offered from 'old timer' Kenneth Wolstenholme who makes an appearance during the later stages of the game. I'm not so sure about the inclusion of Waddle whose uninteresting tone seems to dampen the proceedings. Half time and full time opinions are offered and if you listen carefully a certain amount of tactical advice is included that may prove useful.
Following the sudden increase in speed witnessed in the FIFA 98 game I was interested to see if further improvements in this department would be evident within World Cup 98. Get this, not only do the players react instantly to every situation that arises but the options have a setting that allows you to boost the game speed substantially. I would judge this to be an increase of about 33% over FIFA 98. That must be at least twice as fast as the '97 version. 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 through passes. two skill modes and an intentional foul. When defending the face buttons implement sliding tackles, normal tackles, sprint and switch control of player. As with most EA Sports games you can spend an age tinkering around in the options menu and World Cup 98 is no different. In fact there is little within the game that cannot be tampered with. Rather than reprint the 'FIFA 98' list it may be worthwhile just mentioning the new features. The game now includes the options to implement a handicap system and switch on a catch-up logic. I've already mentioned the speed setting but now you can switch on AI assisted headers, automatic crosses, skill mode and In-Game Tactics which are a set of plays which, when activated, your team runs at your command. During the half time interval you are posed a selection of World Cup Trivia questions and the answer will be revealed on the full time whistle. There are initially four modes of play. A friendly exhibition game between any of the 40 available world 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 big deal is obviously playing in the Finals of the 1998 World Cup. Unfortunately this is a whole lot less than what was offered with FIFA 98. There are no Premier League teams from across the globe and to add insult to injury there are only eight of the national sides that failed to qualify for the Finals up for grabs. To slightly compensate this reduction a World Cup Classic mode opens up after you have successfully conquered the France 98 tournament. This allows you to alter the course of history by taking part in every World Cup Final since the tournament began back in 1930. Think about it - Pele, Zico, Gerson, Charlton, Puskas, Jerkovic, Muller, Kempes, Maradona, Rossi, Linekar, Stoichkov, Cruyff... the list is endless and they are all available for selection.
Value for Money
The big question has to be this:- Do I purchase World Cup 98 if I already have a copy of FIFA 98? Lets look at the facts, PROS:- Slightly improved graphics. New soundtrack. Faster gameplay. New World Cup Classic mode. Improved goalkeeper AI. Fully rendered France 98 stadiums. Footix, the big blue cock. Let's face it, it is the World Cup. CONS:- Similar commentary. No qualifying rounds or league option. You already have the same competition on FIFA 98. If FIFA 98 passed you by then I can thoroughly recommend this quality title. As for those of you who already own it - it's your call, but if unsure then I would suggest rental first to avoid disappointment.
first thought that passed my mind when I heard about World Cup 98's
imminent release was how were EA Sports going to improve the FIFA 98
game engine in such a short period of time.
Remarkably they have included a speed slide bar that boosts the gamespeed by some 33%. This leaves me with the burning question - were they holding back on us last Christmas?
Although World Cup 98 has improved on the graphical side of the game I believe that the lastability suffers slightly. However the thought of controlling some of the classic teams and players from the past may just prove too tempting for many.
Had FIFA 98 not been released so recently then I am sure that this game would have scored in the nineties, but it has and it didn't.
I must also apologize for the many similarities between this review and FIFA 98 but to be honest EA Sports started it.