Review of FIFA 2002
If you have ever wondered what it would feel like if you woke up one morning with your right hand attached to your left wrist and vice-versa, then FIFA 2002 provides the perfect insight. Gamers whos first PS2 game was TimeSplitters will know this feeling very well… just when you think you have got the hang of using the analog joypads in every way possible, someone comes along and forces you to use BOTH sticks AND the R/L buttons at the back of the pad to play a game. FIFA takes this approach even further by including the regular buttons too..!
All these extra buttons must be used for something, so lets find out what… The right analog stick is now used for the new 1-2 move that allows the player on the ball to pass to a nearby team-mate and have him automatically send the ball back to you. If timed just right, it allows just enough time to run past an opposing player into space before it arrives back at your feet. This simple addition completely transforms the gameplay and is worth the hassle of re-training your thumb to do something that feels very un-natural at first. The skill moves also require up to 3 buttons to be pressed at the same time and spin is now added to the ball using the L2/R2 keys rather than the Left stick.
Regular passing now has an on-screen power bar (just like shooting) to indicate how hard the ball will be kicked. The pressure that you push the button also affects the height it will travel, with a quick but hard press giving a low level short pass.
When you get closer to the goal and start thinking about shooting the next new element comes into play. EA have tried to play catch-up with International Superstar Soccer in this release with regards to the thru’ ball move; which has always been pretty useless until now. Holding the L1 button makes the players closest to you start to sprint into space (and away from their marker). The length of run and its direction is highlighted on the grass and the aim is to accurately pass the ball into their path, giving them a clear scoring opportunity.
With this new passing system, hitting the ball too hard, too soft, or off-line will invariably hand the advantage back to the other team. Because this all has to be done manually (rather than just pressing a button and then relying on the computer to do the tricky stuff), FIFA suddenly feels like more of a simulation and will offer a real challenge to those expert gamers who found previous versions too easy, or too automated.
There are two more revelations that enthusiasts of this series will find it hard to believe. First the developers have finally selected a good default camera view that lets you see enough of the action to make intelligent passing and through-balls possible and secondly you can at last redefine the main keys to make them the same as your other soccer games.
Graphically things are… well… different. All of the players now have far more shading on their skin and so by rights should look more realistic… but they don’t. Rather than looking computerised, they now seem cartoon-like and move with far less speed and grace than last years game. Having seen how players CAN look in the gorgeous ‘This is Football (Soccer) 2002’ the FIFA squad have some catching up to do.
Vastly improved from 2001 are the grass textures used. Gone is the Astroturf, replaced with a surface that you would swear was the real thing; especially the muddier pitch. All of the small touches are back; such as the cameramen, security staff, substitutes and linesmen (although why they are carrying cardboard flags is beyond me). Worth a special mention is the detail that has been used for the crowds, which it the best seen, both in terms of animation and looks.
As television replays have improved, so have FIFAs. Goal celebrations and replays now pan and cut between cameras in a far more professional way; zooming in and out and then exploding into fragments. Off-sides and fouls are now given the 5 star treatment too.
The new custom player builder allows gamers to choose from:
31 Hair Cuts
9 Facial Hair designs
6 Hair Colors
4 Skin Colors
The sound quality is on a par with last year, even though some of the player grunts would be better suited to Tekken or DOA2.
EA have used the spare capacity on the DVD to good effect including the usual crop of great dance tunes that can now be played in-game instead of the commentary; which is a surprisingly refreshing change. Other extras include a hilarious out-takes video with computerised players falling over, missing the ball, running into goal posts etc. There is a video tutorial that shows players how to perform each of the moves and gives some important insight into how the newer ones should be used. The ‘Showcase’ video profiles the main players that were used to make this years game and is further proof that Sportsmen should be seen and not heard. Finally there is an alternative intro movie set to a different tune.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'FIFA 2002' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Stevie Vincent © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 14 FIFA 2002 in-game screenshot slideshow
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