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World Cup '98 Review

Publisher - E.A.
Developer - E.A. Sports
Platform - N64
Type - Sports
Score - 6/10

World Cup '98 is EA's newest soccer game that looks a lot like EA's old soccer game, but better. The latest release fixes up some of the graphical glitches of it's predecessor but doesn't give the gameplay much of an overhaul. Overall, it's a decent sports sequel.

Here's what to expect from this soccer title. You'll get some cinematic cut sequences, all 32 teams that made it to the World Cup, 8 teams that didn't and 8 hidden teams. You'll also get 10 stadiums to play in. What you won't get is player and team creation, something that you will get in the older FIFA title: FIFA Road to the World Cup '98, and in International Superstar Soccer 64.

World Cup '98's graphics is pure eye candy. This game has a higher resolution than International Superstar Soccer 64, and more ornate cut scenes in between goals and penalties. World Cup also has good lookin' evening games, complete with neato lighting effects. The menuing system also looks pretty spiffy, but its appearance surpasses its functionality. The only thing that holds this game back graphically is the behavior of the ball and the player animations. The players are choppy, which really hurts gameplay. The other problem is the ball. There are times when the movement of the ball looks unbelievable. It's not at the point where you can't predict where the ball is going, but it looks unpleasant.

The sound in World Cup is as good as the graphics. The first thing you'll notice is a clip from Chumbawamba's Tubthumping. The game music is doesn't involve any digitized samples but is good just the same. A bonus that this game has over other N64 titles is that all the sounds in this game can be played in dolby surround sound.

Just like its predecessor, World Cup '98 is a game with a mission- to be a world cup simulation. Everything else takes a back seat. This may explain why player creation was not included in this version. This game will give you the best simulation of the World Cup playoffs, but it may not be the most accessible soccer game on the N64. This game offers several different play modes: World Cup, World Cup Classic, Friendly, Penalty Shootout, and Practice. All play modes are open to four players, which makes this a great game to play with or against your friends.

The big thing that holds this game back is interaction. The players are choppy and the controls are somewhat frustrating. The controls are more responsive than the last FIFA game, but it still can't touch International Superstar Soccer 64. The player animations are detailed and believable, but they don't execute as quickly as those found in ISS. The result is a good looking game, but a hard to control game. A very specific control issue is passing the ball. There's no lag in ball passing, but the ball doesn't always go where you intend it to. This gets very annoying very fast. With a lot of practice, it is possible to exert more control, but you shouldn't have to overcome flaws in the game to have more fun.

A big improvement in this game is in the goalies. They react more naturally to the incoming shots and make competent kicks. Another plus is the ability to execute special plays during the game. This is similar to the strategy features in ISS. This adds depth to the game that was previously not to be found. Another ISS feature incorporated into this version is player handicapping. It's no fun to play a weaker opponent or to get creamed by someone with more experience.

Something I wish was left on the drawing board is the trivia questions. The game will pose soccer trivia questions which have nothing to do with the game. It's interesting idea for a televised broadcast and a really annoying one for a video game. Lose the questions and let us play.

The last improvement worth mentioning is the "World Cup Classics" mode. This allows you to play in historical World Cup games. This is similar to the challenge mode in ISS. You cannot use this feature until you beat the World Cup at least once.

This game is a sufficient upgrade from the last FIFA title, but with the exception of a bit of polish, it's still second fiddle to International Superstar Soccer 64. This is the soccer game to have if you're a big soccer buff and are looking for a World Cup simulator. If you're looking for a customizable soccer game to keep you and your friends on the couch all weekend, it's still ISS.