Every four years, EA’s Fifa franchise is honour-bound to spew out an extra footy offering to tie in with the World Cup. But is this year’s celebration of world football really worth bothering with, particularly if you’ve already shelled out for Fifa 2002?
What’s slightly disappointing in 2002 Fifa World Cup is the lack of options. All you get is the ability to play a friendly match or the World Cup tournament. The only extra present is that winning the World Cup unlocks a continental all-stars team (so if you win with England, you get a European All-Stars team). It would have been rather more interesting to unlock past World Cup tournaments or suchlike.
In terms of the gameplay, 2002 Fifa World Cup has invented a new, simplified “airplay” system. When the ball is in the air, your player will automatically choose to perform an appropriate volley or header. This system works well enough when you suss the timing out (you have to press the shoot button pretty early, way before the ball reaches your player).
2002 Fifa World Cup also sees the introduction of star players, who are marked rather tritely with a little sparkly star above their heads (well okay, it doesn’t sparkle). England’s stars include Michael Owen, who has boosted pace and shooting skills, and David Beckham, who boasts exceptional passing and shooting ability. This differentiation of great from good players adds an extra dimension to the teams.
The biggest alteration to the Fifa formula, however, is the addition of player physics and spatial interactions – known to us as argy bargy, or pushing and shoving. Players will jostle for headers, shove others out of the way on runs and pretty much do everything you see in real football apart from the shirt-pulling.
Tis is a welcome addition to the realism factor of course, although the computer does seem to take liberties, with its players seemingly winning most of the shoving battles on the higher difficulty levels. It feels like a sort of “cheating” way to make the game trickier, which rather grated with us.
In fact, on a professional level 2002 Fifa World Cup plays like Fifa 2002 did on the highest skill setting (world class). On world class setting it plays like a team of Maradonas given unrestrained on-field access to ample supplies of class ‘A’ drugs and a vision-impaired referee.
The core Fifa game does remain the same, though. Expect plenty of accurate, lofty long balls from the computer and the usual dodgy defender’s AI (the players you’re not controlling don’t cover attackers very well). Moments of frustration are plentiful. EA doesn’t seem to have sorted out the multiplayer match-up web site either, which only seems to work on occasion, and even when it does it tends to lag horribly.
Company: Electronic Arts