This is Football (Soccer) 2002
Review of This is Football (Soccer) 2002
I was quite shocked to see the latest version of This is Football released so early in the year as the emergence of newer soccer games is usually reserved for around the festive season… that point in the calendar when elderly relatives head straight off to Electronic Boutique looking in desperation for a ‘quick fix Christmas present for little Billy’. Seeming as EA Sports covet the most obvious ‘FIFA’ brand name, Sony hatched the ingenious plan to name their soccer franchise ‘This is Football’. Surely that little simplistic gem couldn’t possibly confuse granny?
This Is Football 2002 is the third game of a series that is slowly winning over the fans of computerized soccer. But could this relatively unknown project eventually lead to Sony showing us just how good a sports game can actually look on their all-powerful PS2 console? So far we have hardly been treated to anything sporty that could be regarded as ‘next generation’. FIFA 2001 came closest, but was really only a highly polished version of their PSOne engine. International League Soccer was almost damaging to your health, while ISS just plain sucked. Maybe THIS could be the one?
Seeming as almost every PS2 title is now being launched accompanied by one of those lavish intro movies I expect most of you to skip the remainder of this paragraph. After all I’m only going to slap your face with a description such as ‘stunning’, ‘stylish’ and ‘superb’. However the realism of this computer generated intro far outweighs previous efforts because every player is instantly recognizable… even the referee.
Within the game it quickly becomes obvious that the extra graphical capabilities of the PS2 have allowed the Sony team of developers to not only map facial detail of over 250 International stars, but the clever bit is the inclusion of animated expressions. Now this could have backfired and maybe frightened a few people off… were they not so realistic. Barthez, Beckham, Henry, Fowler, Davids, Cafu, Desailly, Renoldo…. are all there grinning and grunting their way through a simulated soccer match… quite eerie really.
For the first time in a soccer game all-three camera distances are workable. Obviously the close up view restricts passing vision to a certain degree, but is rewarded with some amazing close contact animations (shirt pulling, dives, over-acting... and as for the after-goal celebrations…). There’s even a top-down perspective for those who yearn for a return to retro gaming. The overall effect is that of watching a crisp TV style presentation of the game of football, including a full slow-motion replay editor for those ‘would be Andy Gray’s’ out there (God forgive us).
The animated crowd certainly racks up the atmosphere with flag waving, tickertape throwing, red devil flares, camera flashes, anthems, cheers and rowdy songs. They even rise to their feet during goalmouth action. Peter Drury supplies the commentary, which is fine because he doesn’t push himself in your face.
Most good-looking soccer games fall flat because of a control system that handles like a hammer and chisel or is too complicated to remember. Thankfully This Is Football 2002 is a dream to play with responsive and accurate analog controls. Obviously much has been learned from other soccer titles therefore the inclusion of a neat through-ball and a non-tapping run button take the chore out of playing. After barely five minutes play everything should come naturally, even the excellent dive button (which is a hilarious but true to life addition, especially when wrongly timed).
Game modes include the ability to put any two International or European league teams on the same pitch. If there is a single world soccer competition missing from the prepared list then it can be simply created in the custom menu. There’s also a selection of time warp teams, super teams… even schoolboy teams. Most of the squad members are correct from the start of this season (2001/2), but any transfers in or out can be catered for in the options. You can even create a player in your own likeness and take to the field as captain of your favorite team. Now that’s vain!
On the downside TIF 2002 lacks the fine placement of players and marking instructions that make ISS Pro such a marvelous game to play. Personally I like to push a player inside a little or even man mark a quality opponent, but all you get here is the standard formation and strategy options. This doesn’t make it a bad game. On the contrary, I couldn’t recommend a better sports title for granny to buy you this Christmas.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'This is Football (Soccer) 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 Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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