Fifa Football 2002
by EA Sports
For PC owning football fans there are only two game releases that matter. One of these, Championship Manager, we have already looked at. Now the other important title is here and this year Fifa 2002 brings some much needed gameplay changes.
If you have played any of the Fifa games over the last four years your initial experience of this years version will come as quite a shock. Gone is the 'players on rails experience' with the apparent same moves coming off again and again. Gone is 'no effort to score' syndrome too. No, this year you're going to have to work to stick the ball in the back of the net. The first time your striker is one on one with the goalkeeper, it is almost certain that you will put the shot wide. The reason being is that EA Sports have at last decided to take the stabilisers off our footballing bicycle.
It is obvious that EA have listened to the criticisms voiced by fans over the last few years as plenty of gameplay basics have been altered. The main alteration to the gameplay can be seen in the passing element of the game. The previous versions of Fifa passed the ball right to the players feet with very unrealistic accuracy. This unfortunately made the game far too easy as you could string a quick succession of passes together without even trying and it made the game seem like football pinball. Anyway this year it's all change. Now the ball is played into space and you can even vary the power of the pass with the aid of a power bar. The longer you keep the button pressed the greater the pass will be. There is even the risk that you can overhit the pass which oddly enough seems very refreshing. This new passing mode enables you to put the ball a few virtual yards in front of your strikers for them to run on to and once you've adjusted to this new system you'll find yourself creating beautiful long and short passes that just wouldn't have been possible in previous versions.
Along with the passing system, another new feature is the ability to instruct your players to make forward runs and run into space. A simple press of the appropriate button/key will put a series of dots on the pitch that show where your player is going to make the run (see below).
All you have to do is to play a pass in the same direction as the dots and most of the time your player (who has already begun moving in the direction) will collect the ball. When this is performed correctly it is devastating and will leave you with a clear shot on goal.
Scoring is no longer easy. Remember in the past when all you had to do was hit the shoot button and it was a goal? Well that's all gone. Because Fifa now lets you put the ball anywhere you want you really have to aim your shot on goal. EA Sports have included a superb chip shot and fake shot to aid you in your attempts to score but at the end of the day it now comes down to your ability to put the ball in the net and goals are now ten times more rewarding. In a further attempt to make scoring that little bit more difficult AI defenders now mark your forwards and anything less than a well placed pass cross will end up with you losing possession.
EA Sports have left the option for you to have assistance with passing and crossing so don't be put off if you think the game may be too hard. On the easiest setting the AI does actually give you a game this time around. In Fifa 2001 your team would be far quicker than the opposition and the game would play very unrealistically as a result. In Fifa 2002 there is no such nonsense and the only weakness of the AI on the easy setting is that they are not too sharp in front of goal and occasionally will let you get away with a sloppy pass.
Feature wise the Fifa series has always been superior to the competition and this years version is no exception. With 16 leagues for you to play in and over 450 teams to choose from you're going to be spoilt for choice. Should you have the desire to do so you can now create your own players, teams and leagues. This is a tremendous inclusion as it enables you to play in a league that you want to. Fans of first and second division teams will no doubt create their own leagues. With the previous versions of Fifa, fans of lower league teams had to modify the game and replace the existing leagues in the game with the teams of their choosing which meant altering game files but now it is so much simpler. There are now a far greater choice of camera angles. The panoramic camera angle deserves special praise as it allows you to tactically plan your moves without restricting you to the fixed sidewards look.
Fifa 2002 represents a massive leap forward (in terms of gameplay) for the series. It is not perfect, the deflections still seem a bit unrealistic in places amongst other things but it corrects so many problems with earlier versions that it is impossible to list them all here. As per usual, Fifa 2002 is fine for deaf gamers. It would have been nice for subtitles to have been given for the match commentary but to be honest after about twenty games (it won't take you long to reach that number) you'd turn it off because of the repetition and occasionally silly phrases. Having taken everything into consideration Fifa 2002 is the finest football game you can buy for the PC, by quite a distance I might add, and is well worth the asking price for any football fan.
Overall Game Rating: 9/10 Still the football game of choice for the PC.
Quality of text / Visual Clues : 7/10 Plenty of visual information but no match commentary subtitles.
Graphics: 9.5/10 The best looking football game on the PC by quite a long way.
Visual Presentation: 10/10 Could EA Sports get anything less?
Interface: 9.5/10 EA Sports have made the interface even more intuitive this year.
Gameplay: 9/10 Gameplay gets a fantastic make over in this years edition.