Review of FIFA 2003
FIFA 2003 doesn’t take much to set the scene – it’s a football game – where you can play the beautiful game and transfer players into and out of your team for money.
In addition, to extend the life span of the game you can play different tournaments as well as the season in each of the 16 leagues available. Since it is a game you can also unlock things along the way – e.g. a few stadiums in friendly mode (this is like the quick play option in many games) and open an extra tournament or two.
So now that we are all chanting the same tune its time to let the football begin.
Instead of the usual FIFA style opening this game has footage of the 3 cover stars – Giggs, Carlos and Davids playing with the ball – its got something to do with Giggs’ dribbling, Carlos’ power and Davids ball control all being included in the game – to increase the realism.
Now we know that the game sets out to be a realistic football game, and this is enhanced by the TV style presentation and commentary – from some of Europe’s best – though why Ally McCoist is in the English version I will never know!
The graphics have received the annual makeover and this time they are truly wondrous – the majority of the major stars are startling in their likeness, and so are the stadiums. Yes – at long last EA have included the stadia – but these are only for the top 18 or so clubs in Europe – they do look stunning all the same. These improvements also apply to the club strips – the player’s names and sponsor details, as well as the finer details of the strip design are all included. There are the usual replays but now there are highlights sequences in abundance (half-time and full time).
All of this runs at a nice smooth 60 fps about 99 percent of the time – its only in a bit of a fracas on the pitch does the frame rate get a little jerky.
The sounds is also glorious – chants for all the major teams, lots of individual comments about players, the home or away team sing depending on who is in the ascendancy. In addition, the TV style commentary is the usual top-notch production. The only fault I had with the sound was that on occasion the commentary seemed to dip in volume for no reason.
But EA Sports have sold this as a football game – not a look and listen game – so can the on pitch action cut the mustard?
Yes it can.
You can still dribble down the pitch on mazy runs to score – but you will be lucky to do it on any difficulty setting higher than amateur. There are now four difficulty levels amateur, semi-pro, pro and world class.
And EA have also changed the controls a little – sprint is no longer a case of hammering away on triangle – now you hold in R1.
The game now is all about the team – short, controlled passing play is the only way to unlock the opposition’s defences. Running with the ball is a good way to lose it as your control diminishes at speed.
The player animations are fantastic and as is that of the ball – it is a lovely, fast flowing game to play – pass and move – reminds me of something….
Should you find yourself in the position of being a couple of goals to the good in a game, a screen will appear saying you seem to have got to grips with this difficulty level, want to increase to the next one. I would advise you say no the first few times you see this – you can be facing a poor team and hammer them – only to discover your next game is against one of the top sides and you are the one on the wrong end of a drubbing.
The AI has improved dramatically over that in the last incarnation of FIFA – the oppostion now change their tactics during the game and if they are trailing in the last 15 minutes they push forward hard in an effort to find that equaliser. – you can never drop your concentration until the final whistle blows.
The set-pieces have also had an overhaul – its now easier (maybe easier isnt the right word – as its not easy – simpler would suit better!) to score from free kicks and corners than before – I can bet David Seaman is quaking in his boots!
The only flaws that I can see to the game are that your own players are a bit stupid at times – the game is supposed to be team orientated – but you won’t find it easy to get your wingers into the box, nor will you be able to pass over the midfield should you find yourself outclassed in that area. Occassionally, your players pass to someone other than the one intended and every now and again they ignore the ball completely.
Finally the new freestyle control – the right analogue stick – can pull off the wrong move at the wrong time – and this can cost you possession of the ball – not good in world class :(
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'FIFA 2003' 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 Rory Kelly © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 12 FIFA 2003 in-game screenshot slideshow
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