But what about the rioting?
FIFA ’98: the Road to the World Cup, is without a doubt the best futbol game ever for the Playstation. But I’m not talking about that Americanized gridiron game. I’m talking about REAL futbol – the most popular game in the world.
The reason FIFA ’98 is so great is that it accounts for every conceivable detail, on the field and off. Anything you can do on a soccer field (or pitch, as the British announcer calls it) you can do in this game. To master the game, you must learn to use all eight of the Playstation’s available buttons, and each button serves multiple functions. You can kick many types of shots, passes, and ‘skilled moves,’ which include 360 degree spins, flipping the ball over your shoulder, and even faking a fall to try to get a foul called. Although the game play can be a little overwhelming at first, its not too hard to get used to. Plus, you can choose from one of three difficulty levels, so the game never seems too easy or too difficult.
FIFA ’98 offers five different modes of play – Friendly, Road to World Cup 98, League, Training, and Penalty Shootout. In Friendly mode, you play an exhibition game. This is what I usually use when playing two player games, which become the most intense and exciting games you can play. Its you against your friend, where every move can win or lose the game for you.
In Road to World Cup 98 mode, you choose a country and try to guide them to a World Cup championship. Every country with a national team is available, from Brazil to Qatar. Before you enter the World Cup Tournament however, you must qualify in your respective zone. There are six zones in the world, and each zones qualification tournaments/requirements are the same as they are in real life. Also, your team has a bankroll, and can trade, release, and hire new players within your budget. In addition, you can create players of your own.
In League mode, you can play as a club team in a country rich with soccer tradition (such as Italy or Brazil), or devise ma league of your own, using both national and club teams. Overall, the game offers a total of 172 teams to choose from.
While in most games Training mode is a never used option, it actually becomes quite helpful in Fifa 98. Since there is such a wide variety of moves to master, Training mode provides the perfect setting to learn tricks that you can later use on the field.
In Penalty Shootout, you and your opponent take five penalty shots each, and whoever scores more is the winner.
Each player on every team, which have the real names of players on the national and club teams, have 17 different attribute ratings, so you can see exactly what your team is capable of accomplishing on the field. Once on the field, you hear announcers Jon, the British play by play man, and Andy, the Scottish color commentator, compliment you on good plays. They spout lines such as “This lad’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s a great asset to his team, and he showed it on that play.” Yet they also insult you non-stop when you don’t play up to their standards, with lines like “What a wasted opportunity!,” or “He’s certainly disappointed with that attempt.” (Picture these lines in British and Scottish accents and they become very amusing). This, added to the organized crowd cheering and Blur soundtrack, make the game fun to listen to as well as fun to play.
Before each match, you can choose the half lengths, weather (clear, hot, rain, snow, sleet) and stadium. There are ten different stadiums, including an indoor stadium, where you play a high scoring 5 on 5 game on a smaller field. Also, you can choose your starting lineup, team formation, team strategy, and even assign certain players to mark specific opponents on defense. Like all EA games, you can choose from a variety of camera angles, always have access to instant replay, and can save your progress on a memory card. Although the game does keep track of statistics and league leaders, it limits the stats to only goals and cards.
Despite all its great qualities, FIFA ’98 has one major flaw: the goalie. The computer insists on always controlling the goalie, unless he’s holding the ball. Unfortunately, the computer often makes bad judgment calls. For example, if the ball is slowly rolling towards the penalty box, and the goalie is the only player within 20 yards, he will always dive on it, as opposed to just picking it up or kicking it. This would be acceptable if he didn’t sometimes end his dive outside the penalty box. This causes the ref to penalize him for using hands outside the box. As a result, the opposing team gets a free kick from just outside the box, which often results in a goal. This is just one of the bad judgment calls the keeper sometimes makes, and it drastically detracts from the reality aspect of the game, which is prevalent in every other area.
Yet even with this flaw, FIFA ’98 remains one of the best sports video games I have ever played. It accounts for every detail in the game of soccer, both on and off the field, and never gets tiring, no matter how long you play.