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Fifa Soccer 64 Review

Publisher - E.A.
Developer - E.A. Canada
Platform - N64
Type - Sports
Score - 5/10

Ever since the release of the Nintendo 64, the console has been lacking in its quantity of sports games. EA sports, a familiar name in sports video games is attempting to fill that hole with FIFA Soccer 64. The only sports games available other than FIFA are Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey and NBA Hangtime. FIFA will enjoy some success due to the fact that it is currently the only soccer game available, but it is by no means a spectacular title.

Upon first examination, FIFA's graphics are not up to the standards of most of the other N64 releases, although they aren't particularly bad. In fact, I have to admit that the game does present the look and feel of watching a soccer game on television. They have a multitude of camera views ranging from high above the stadium and down to the ball's level- all of which look very cool. The players don't look particularly poylgonish, but they aren't as sharp and well defined as in Gretzky. Also the movement of the players and the ball is not completely realistic. While there are flaws, the graphics do not detract from the game.

There are lots of neat options such as picture-in-picture displays (having a small portion of the screen display another camera angle) and replays. The replays can be played automatically by the game or manually by the player. If the player controls playback, he has the option of playing it forward or reverse and he controls the speed of playback.

A big plus for FIFA is the playing field itself. It has little trouble with spinning, panoramic shots of the playing field, and it actually shows wear on the turf as the game progresses. The game would be functionally the same with or without the wear and tear, but it's this kind of attention to detail that makes a game interesting. Also, in the attention to detail department, FIFA allows you to select from both international soccer teams and national soccer teams. While this does little more than change the team's uniforms, it's a nice touch for soccer fans who may have favorite teams from a particular country or favorite teams from a particular region of a country. Another nice touch is the victory slides, hops, and leaps that a player performs when he scores a goal. Again, it could have been better animated, but it does capture the spirit of a soccer game.

The sound in FIFA is not spectacular, but it does what a sports game should do. It has all the horns and whistles of a soccer match, but its real boon is in the crowd. The crowd chants and cheers, boos when you foul opponents, and goes nuts when you score a goal. The sound of applause is at the right volume so that it doesn't scream out its presence, yet it can't be missed. FIFA also has an announcer that is less annoying than the one in Waverace and seems to have a few more phrases than the one in Gretzky.

This game could have been a hit. A four player soccer game should be fun even if you don't like sports games. The game is also well laid out; moving through the menu options take little time to master and the cart will even show you the controller layout. FIFA, even with fair graphics, had incredible potential. The ONE thing that makes FIFA a mediocre game instead of a good one is the hideous controls.

FIFA's controls are dull and unresponsive. Shooting the ball is a simple matter, but passing it is an absolute nightmare. Also in the nightmare category is switching which player you're controlling. Not only does the game not choose the player you'd instinctively like to switch to, but by the time you've switched to the new player, you're no longer in a position to accomplish anything. It's also significantly difficult to steal the ball from an opponent. You have to start a slide tackle long before you're near the opponent you want to stop.

This in itself wouldn't be enough to sink a game. FIFA does something uniquely frustrating. It keeps track of the buttons you press and executes them in that order. That's similar to what every other game does, but FIFA executes your instructions so slowly that there is a significant pause between hitting a button and causing something to happen. If you, in your frustration, press a lot of buttons in succession, the game will execute a string of late instructions.

Here's an awful example that happened a lot while I was playing this game. First I attempt to pass the ball. Nothing happens. The other team starts to close in so I attempt to kick the ball down field. While I'm waiting for the ball to be kicked, the game executes the pass command. Not only did it pass when I didn't want it to, it now passed the ball to someone I never intended it to pass to. This is because the person I attempted to pass to in the first place is no longer there. So the game passes the ball to the wrong person. Now the game executes the kick command. The result is the person that the ball was passed to kicks the ball in the wrong direction.

That example happened all too often. Another bad situation that results from the lag time is passing the ball to multiple people. You attempt a pass, but the game doesn't respond fast enough. Instinctively, you press the pass button again. Now the game passes the ball to another player who immediately passes the ball again. You end up performing series of passes, over which you have absolutely no control.

That's FIFA's fatal flaw. A video game you can't control is a game you can't enjoy. If you enjoy banging away at the controller, then FIFA's for you. If you actually wanted to play a soccer game you'll probably want to wait for Konami's International Superstar Soccer 64, which should be out in June.

In conclusion FIFA is not a bad game, it's much worse than that. It is a mediocre game that could have easily been a great game.