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.