Enough is enough. Don’t misunderstand, the FIFA series is still one of our favourites, but EA really should have stopped at FIFA ’99. But why should it? After all, it develops the game, ships it out, promotes it on the television and just as sure as a another sequel is inbound, the consumer buys it every time. Only Shearer’s automatic inclusion into the England squad is more predictable!
IF IT AIN’T BROKE
Of all the sports simulations, football is the most popular, therefore the most scrutinised, so you would think the competition to create the greatest ever football game would encourage software developers to push the boundaries of programming and give the people what they want. Unfortunately EA has gone against the saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and bloody well broken its best football game to date with this inevitable millennium cash-in.
Another season later, Euro 2000 success is beckoning (oh dear God please let it be!) and FIFA returns with the usual updated team rosters for hundreds of teams from more than 15 of the world’s top leagues. The ever-present collection of national teams and international matches, plus the best of the rest bolster its impressive squad line-ups. Plus you get to pick from over 40 classic teams from glories past; including the legendary 1966 England team and that unstoppable Man Utd team from 1968 – or is that the Nineties! Motty returns once again, this time accompanied by the motion capture of Spur’s and England defender Sol Campbell (nicknamed ‘The Rock’ due to his sterling lunchtime ISS Pro Evolution performances) and pop star Robbie Williams.
With your team management sorted and Sutton controversially preferred over Flo to partner Zola up-front, it’s game on! Yet no sooner has your opening ceremony banter with your mate finished and the game underway, the Matrix-esque slowdown (resulting in a lack of camera smoothness) instantly makes you feel aggrieved – and a little disorientated at times. FIFA 2000 may still be as fast as its superior predecessor, but the camera quite apparently is not. It almost looks as though the camera has a pair of electric cables connected to its proverbial nuts, and is constantly being fed bolts of electricity, resulting in the continuous jittery movement. If the game was trying to cope with an outstanding step forward in graphical representation you could almost forgive it, yet the graphics appear grainy and in a lower resolution to that of the excellent FIFA ‘99.
Putting the disappointing visuals aside, as you trundle your chosen team through one game to another – whether it be European glory,World Cup glory, or plain old Premiership glory – you find yourself not enjoying yourself.
After all, the last couple of FIFA’s have been real corkers! Why’s this different?
One of the most notable changes in gameplay is in the area of the artificial intelligence. They have an uncanny knack of tackling you when you least expect them too – okay, we can let that one go. However, when you come to lunging in with a tackle of your own, they seemingly avoid it nine times out of ten; with an eerie form of Uri Geller’s mind powers, they dodge, skip and jump over and around your challenges – most annoying! On a good note though, they now have some substance to their bodies as the collision detection is in full working order.
One minute a shot from Christian Vieri could be heading corner flag bound, the next an embarrassing deflection off noneother- than Gareth Southgate would send it nestling into the back of the net!
There really isn’t much else to it. All the original elements remain, the enjoyable player transfer system, the players still look like they’re wearing paper masks of the players they’re supposed to be and EA is set for another Christmas hit thanks to their promotion advertising. FIFA admirers we may be, but it’s the fans who lose out because that Gascoigne magic and invention has deserted EA Sports, as it did our fallen England star prior to World Cup ’98.