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2002 FIFA World Cup (2002)      

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EA Sports
Sport - Football
EA Canada

Yes
Eng

Mini-DVD disc
USA Japan


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matt91486 (Unknown)   26th Mar 2013 01:30
"Lead the first American charge on Seoul in fifty years"

The lights go on at the Incheon Sports Complex. Jeff Agoos, U. S. Defenseman, looks out in awe at the crowd. Flashbulbs shine, cowbells ring, fans cheer. A homemade sign is held up, saying ‘The US may have helped Korea 50 years ago - Now its time to pay them back!’ as the highly anticipated match between the World Cup home team against the usually disappointing Americans gets underway. The referee tosses the coin, and the kickoff is taken. Yet another game in the World Cup has begun.

2002 FIFA World Cup is not your typical soccer game. Most tend to be rather well balanced, with equal emphasis on speed, finesse, and power. Well, this edition of the FIFA series moves fairly slow when compared with recent installments, and it almost feels like you’re playing a version of the series from the late nineties. The game does not allow for much breakaway speed, and the bulk of the work comes down to clearing the ball well out of your zone, and passing it through your opponents, using the occasional dribbling maneuver to retain possession. In other words, if you relied on running up and down the field in FIFA 2002, you will find soccer a whole lot more difficult now. This adds a new dimension to the gameplay, but 2002 FIFA World Cup really hurts from the slower, more deliberate pace.

As I mentioned numerous times before, the pace of 2002 FIFA World Cup has been toned way down. The only way you are going to be able to blow past a player is if you have a star player (one with a star above his head instead of a triangle) who excels in the area of speed. Otherwise you will have to rely much more on passing. EA Sports have included through route indicators to allow you to better see when and where your strikers will be open.

Also adding to passing control are the various styles of passing. You can determine whether you absolutely wish to destroy a ball, lob it to a teammate’s head, or to simply pass it through traffic along the ground. The first two methods are initiated the same way, but depend on your accuracy, and the strength that you strike the ball with. Passing it along the ground is done in a different manner, and relies much more on your knowledge of through routes, your ability to detect the open player, and if you have pinpoint accuracy to pass through an opponent’s legs directly to your midfielder’s waiting left foot.

New to 2002 FIFA World Cup is a system that allows you to juggle the ball. This system is used very rarely, but it can save the game for you once you get into injury time against a skilled opponent. Using different button combinations you can juggle the ball with various body parts, which can be a very effective method of faking defenders out and preventing a tackle on the ball from being successful.

Other additions include some more options in advanced ball maneuvering, which allow you to control directions, which foot is playing the ball, and if you do the ball on the run, or reversing the path of the ball. A novice player will not use these moves often, unless trying to run a one-man team, such as Japan with Nakata, towards the net. If you are trying to only utilize one player, then you had best get the hang of step-overs. This is why beginners should choose a team like France, one that has multiple stars (Zidane, Henry, others) to be used at your disposal.

2002 FIFA World Cup is no graphical slouch. The attention to detail, especially in the stadiums, is very impressive. Each of the fields retains their distinctive architecture perfectly, from the arches of Seogwipo, to the roof-like decks that sail over the pitch in Yokohama. What these varied fields do, more than twenty in all, is force you to pick out a favorite, one with an architectural flair that agrees with your tastes. For me that field is in Seogwipo, on the tiny island directly off the southern coast of South Korea. The sweeping design of that field, especially with the arches, caught my eye, and I play there every game I can.

Besides the level of detail in the stadiums, you will have a hard time finding faults with the players as well. I have never been a fan of the facial models that EA Sports has used in the past - I have trashed those in the Madden series, the NCAA Football series, and the NBA Live series repeatedly over the years. But, whatever the problem was, EA Sports has worked it all out. David Beckham looks like David Beckham. Zinedine Zidane looks like Zinedine Zidane. The faces are mapped perfectly. The rest of the body models retained their previous accuracy, and what it comes down to is a perfectly rendered football team, right down to Zidane’s bald spot. And how about the level of detail in the referees? Not only are there a couple of different body structures for the refs, but there are three different uniform colors worn as well, which change depending on what colors the teams are wearing. EA Sports kept up with the new FIFA regulations, and the black uniforms are out, replaced with gold as the default color, with red and purple as alternates.

The two problems that I had with the graphics may seem rather trivial, but they can be rather distracting as the game goes on. Inexplicably, and not at set intervals, this game changes resolutions, from a sharp picture, to one that looks almost Nintendo 64 like in the blur around the edges of the images. The problem occurs quite frequently, and it really detracts from a game that is otherwise graphically stunning. The lighting effects are good, but when the resolution temporarily drops to a level that it is hard to distinguish the letter ‘e’ from a ‘c,’ something really needs to be fixed. Also, goalies never just catch the ball. They always do a diving catch, or a leaping catch, or a rolling stop, when just a normal stop will do. Also, the keepers very rarely actually catch the ball. Most of the time they simply knock it down and then pick it up, rather than controlling the ball the first time it is kicked to them.

2002 FIFA World Cup gives you the complete audio package. The music that EA Sports rounded up for this title is easily the best that I have ever seen in any sports game ever. One rather long, orchestral track repeats on the menus, and is played in a rather timely manner after important goals. The piece is quite emotional, and would fit in nicely in a climatic scene in any great role-playing game. When a player is booked, or carded as it is commonly known in the United States, a different orchestral song plays, one that relies entirely on the stringed instruments, with some percussive accompaniment, to bring up anticipation to the call - will it be no card, a yellow, or a red? That is what EA Sports wants you to be wondering when ever the less used melody is played. Here’s one tip - if the second song is being played more than the first in your games, you are doing something wrong.

The commentary in 2002 FIFA World Cup is easily the best I’ve heard in a soccer game, which is quite impressive, considering I only know the name of the analyst, and not the play-by-play guy. Andy Grey, the just mentioned, former British soccer star turned analyst, does a fabulous job. His witticisms are far more entertaining than those of John Madden, his quirky, obscure information tidbits are quite interesting, and the personality that he exudes brings a lot to the game. That and the fact that the British accent of both commentators pays homage to the fact that the United Kingdom is truly the capital of the soccer world, regardless of what those in Brazil or Argentina would like to say. The only flaw I have found with the commentary is that Andy Grey gets cutoff frequently in mid-monologue by an important play happening on the pitch. This would not be a problem, except for the fact that the commentary track does not cut back to his story, the game just continues on and leaves you hanging. This is a feature I would like to see fixed in coming installments of the FIFA series, and certainly by the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The other slight commentary issue is how Andy Grey always says ‘2002 FIFA World Cup’ when referring to the tournament itself. Just say ‘World Cup’ sometime! Some variety would have been very nice.

Even beyond the commentary, 2002 FIFA World Cup features some spectacular sound effects. The menu noises alone are quite varied, and when you include the national chants that fans sing out, the variety of whistle blows for different situations, and the general in game sounds, and you have created one of the most atmospheric sports games around. If I counted correctly, there are six sound effects for varying degrees of strength when kicking the soccer ball up and down the pitch. That is strict attention to detail, something I admire.

The interface used in 2002 FIFA World Cup takes a little while to get used to, but it is very serviceable after a while. ‘A’ is used for typical passes, ones along the surface of the pitch, while ‘B’ is used for lob passes, as well as clearing the ball. ‘X’ is used for shooting. All of these kicks are controlled with power meters. The more you let the meter fill before releasing the button, the harder you kick the ball. Make sure to gauge distance between the player that you are controlling and your target - overshooting your target can mean a goal at the opposite end.

Maybe it has to do with the international fervor over the World Cup that is reverberating around the globe, but I have been more sucked into 2002 FIFA World Cup, despite its flaws, more than any other realistic soccer game in recent memory. The World Cup is the biggest event in team sports, if not in sports in general (Ask any soccer team which they’d prefer, an Olympic gold medal, or the World Cup title, and every one will pick the Cup.), and that enthusiasm that the world brings to the stage carries over into this soccer title. It is not heavy on modes, as there are only two, but something just grabs you and sucks you in, and you want to play with different teams to unlock all of the secrets that 2002 FIFA World Cup has to offer.

2002 FIFA World Cup also gets treatment like a special edition DVD release. EA Sports included three mini-documentaries about the World Cup: Passion, Co-Hosting, and Supporters. Co-Hosting is rather self-explanatory, it outlines how South Korea and Japan have held this event together, what there is to do in the locations, and basically how having it in two countries is different than just having it in one. Passion and Supporters are odes to the devoted soccer fans of the world, those who make the expensive trips to the Orient to see their national teams play for the worldwide crown. What really gives these documentaries a professional feel is the quality subtitles that go along with all of the non-English languages. This could not have been easy to do, because the language of the speaker on-screen switches every time they change interview subjects, and someone spent a lot of time making a fluid text track to go along with the audio. Kudos to them.

One more thing I would like to see in 2002 FIFA World Cup is a deeper statistical engine. For example, the game does keep track of who scores goals. However, they simply ignore who assists on the goal. Soccer is scored like hockey, in which assists and goals are added together to form the total points ranking, which offers a better look at just how balanced an striker or a midfielder really is. All that this FIFA edition tracks is goals scored, which is quite disappointing indeed. It also would have been good to track things like minutes, fouls, cards, saves, and other various actions that have an effect on the outcome of the match. EA Sports could stand to expand their statistical engine in every sport, but it is especially evident in their FIFA series.

On the Beginner and Amateur difficulty levels, 2002 FIFA World Cup is a breeze. I have yet to lose a game on either level. On the Professional Level, the artificial intelligence begins to think. They look more for the open player rather than mindlessly clearing the ball down field, but players who are capable of mastering the through routes should still have no problem on this level, unless you are controlling, say, Senegal against France. You have to work to pull off the upset that stunningly led off this year’s world cup. And, well, once you hit the World Class difficulty level, you can see just what EA Sport’s masterful AI can through at you. Expect a fierce battle on both ends of the pitch. On the highest level, you cannot afford to waste scoring chances. You need to find the open man, use every dribbling maneuver at your disposal, and play some excellent defense to be able to win a game. Just like the World Cup should be.

2002 FIFA World Cup probably will not have as long a life span as some soccer titles, since it is designed primarily for one single event. There are only two modes, Friendly Mode, which is the Exhibition Mode of this title, as well as the World Cup Mode, in which you lead the team of your choice into the final. Two good modes, yes, but not a lot to hold your interest after the tournament is done. Still, it’s fun for a while, and it will certainly entertain you for a rental.

2002 FIFA World Cup is quite a decent soccer game. What it comes down to is how important the World Cup license is to you. If it matters extensively, than it is a worthy title to pick up. If it is not all that important, and you would rather have a few more teams and faster gameplay, than go with FIFA 2002, a more well-rounded game. Either way, you simply have to play some soccer game during World Cup season. It’s only around every four years, and who knows! Brandi Chastain may do her striptease again!

PROS
*Features 42 international teams, plus some hidden all-star teams.
*The best music of any sports game ever.
*Informed and even somewhat witty commentary.

CONS
*No professional league support, Major League Soccer, or otherwise.
*Game moves slower than most FIFA titles.
*Resolution randomly changes in the middle of gameplay.

SCORE SUMMARY

GAMEPLAY--6
GRAPHICS--8
MUSIC--10
SOUND--9
CONTROL--8
FUN--7
CHALLENGE--MEDIUM
REPLAY VALUE--MEDIUM

OVERALL--7


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/09/02, Updated 06/27/02

Ryan Harrison (Unknown)   26th Mar 2013 01:30

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This title was first added on 5th May 2012
This title was most recently updated on 26th March 2013


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