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This Is Football 2004 PlayStation 2 Official Website

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by SCEE London Studio
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

As we've said many times before the PlayStation 2 has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to football games. Whilst Pro Evolution Soccer 3 might be widely acknowledged as the best football game on the system in terms of it's uncanny knack of looking like the real thing it's not the most feature filled football game out there. In fact if you like real team and player names and a whole load of leagues to choose from then it's certainly isn't the most complete football game out there. It's been over a year now since we reviewed This Is Football 2003 but it was a game that whilst it couldn't match the Pro Evolution Soccer series in terms of realistic game play, certainly was a very good overall package. After a long wait it's time to review the latest in the series, This Is Football 2004.

This Is Football 2004, like it's prequel, is once again filled to the brim with teams, leagues and cup competitions. Of course this year we also have online play too. The game features a staggering 18,000+ players with 900 teams and 23 different national leagues for you to participate in. The leagues on offer range from Argentina to Scotland. In case you're wandering the English divisions on offer are the Premier, Division 1 and Division 2. Either one of these many divisions can be played in season mode. You can also create your own custom league and can even have a time warp league featuring some of the best club sides throughout the years.

The game mode options are exhibition, competition, and online. The competition option will allow you to play cup and league competitions, a full season with your chosen league (as mentioned above), a challenge mode and career mode. Challenge mode is basically where you play a game and are given a score based on your performance. The score can then be entered on the official website so you can see just how good you really are. Career mode makes a return from TIF 2003 and sees you taking control of a young team that make their way from the school pitch to the football big time. Of course the stand out feature this time is the online mode which allows you to play simultaneously with seven other players. In fact if you own a multitap you'll be able to have four players on your PlayStation 2 versus four opponents online. I don't own a multitap so I can't claim to have experienced this but it certainly has potential to be an excellent feature.

What really matters though is how the game plays and it's here that This Is Football 2004 shows it's a first division title and not quite up to the premier league standard of Pro Evolution Soccer 3. What becomes obvious when you first play is how the game is more like an arcade game of football. Defensively the AI is rather lack lustre and on the easier difficulty levels you'll see quite a few mistakes being made. What I will say though it that the game play is a lot easier to get to grips with than PES 3 which can take months of practice before you feel you can do everything. Tackling has been fairly well done and you have the usual options including a two feet tackle, which will usually result in a red card. You can even make your player dive to try and get a free kick or penalty although it will warrant a yellow card if the referee isn't fooled by your theatricals. Shooting is probably best described as adequate. Power bars are used to help you assess how powerful your shots and crosses will be. Various skill moves can be performed but as you would expect how successful these are depends on the skill of the player you're controlling.

Graphically This Is Football 2004 looks better than the previous version of the game but for the most part it's up to the standard of PES 3. Player likenesses are passable but nothing special. The crowd graphics are probably the best in a football game on the PlayStation 2 and actually look good instead of the cardboard cutouts that usually fill the stadiums in many football games. What is disappointing though are the very limited amount of camera angles. You can either choose a side-on or overhead view and you can alter the level of zoom. This is actually quite poor compared to FIFA 2004 and PES 3 and is disappointing if you prefer a view from behind the ball or from an isometric point of view.

As we've said so many times before, with other sports games, the only omission for deaf gamers is the match commentary which, as you would probably have expected, is not subtitled. This doesn't really matter though and doesn't cause any problems. All other information in the game is shown in text so you'll be absolutely fine on that account. The PlayStation 2 online system has an advantage over Xbox Live in that text chat is fully supported in the game lobby either by use of a virtual keyboard (pressing the L1 button to make it appear on the screen) or you can plug in a USB keyboard which will allow you to type in a far more efficient manner.

We said at the top of the review that PlayStation 2 owners are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to football games. All things considered This Is Football 2004 isn't the best football game on the console but it's definitely the most feature filled game and boasts an impressive amount of players and teams. This version also has online play and to have the ability to have eight human players in the same game is truly impressive. Whilst it might not be the best football game out there, it is more accessible than either the latest versions of FIFA or PES and won't take as long to master. Essentially then it's good but not great.

Overall Game Rating: 7.4/10
One of the most complete football games you can buy but the game play is not quite up to the standard of its rivals.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Match commentary is not subtitled.