Everything except the rowdy fans . . .
EA Sports has always had the for good fortune of having the best soccer games on the market every single year, and this year's installment of FIFA '99 is no exception. My apologies for sounding like a random EA commercial, but this year's FIFA improves on last year's gem with more moves, better character animations, and increased goalie control. If you're looking for a soccer game, FIFA '99 is it.
Like its previous installments, this year's FIFA offers a number of useful game modes such as Training, Friendly Match, European Dream League, and Season Mode. Everything from practicing shootout and one on one strategies to creating a custom league from those favorite international teams (we all know who those guys are), is supported through simplistic menus - another thing that EA is famous for. What about depth you ask? If you're not familiar with any FIFA games, you might expect unknown teams filled with random, nameless faces. Not in FIFA '99. Because EA got their license for this game from FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), soccer's main governing body, you can choose from thousands of recognizable names within the 220 club teams and 20 European "dream league" teams. As expected, the team management, player and team editing options are all there.
One of the most impressive features in FIFA '99 is the fact that it attracts a variety of skill levels. Beginners can easily play through entire matches using only two buttons - pass/change player and shoot/tackle. More advanced players will get their dollar's worth with a number of advanced headers, shots, passes, jukes, lobs, and goalie controls. Various fakes, set-over nutmeg, 360 degree spins, and laterals can be executed through combinations of different keys. Also, in-game tactics like the offside trap, attacking press, through ball run, and wing back run can be called on at any time. You've also got an in-game management feature that allows you to change the teams formation and strategy. In the end, FIFA offers the most comprehensible gameplay of any soccer title on the market.
FIFA '99 offers some graphical improvements as well. Characters have an even higher polygon count, with increased animations and more detailed motion capture. Everything runs smoothly and with very few glitches, from the post-score victory dance to the goalie cursing about that last score. While 3D acceleration is supported and definitely recommended, the game's non-accelerated state is still playable both in terms of speed and appearance. Visually, FIFA '99 has outdone every other soccer game on the market (including its predecessor).
Many sports games can look good, but a great game has a challenging AI. FIFA '99's improvement on last year's AI is definitely noteworthy. All teams, both human and computer, run a structured offense and defense. Players will make their runs up the sideline and center the ball to the striker, while defensive players will stick to their given defensive strategy. Unlike many other soccer games, you actually feel as if you're playing on a team.
In a nutshell, FIFA '99 is a great improvement over previous installments of the FIFA series. AI is improved, graphics are more impressive, commentary is more varied, and the amazing depth is still there. If you're looking for a PC soccer game, FIFA '99 is it.