Now that England has qualified for the World Cup, we can boldly move on to the next version of FIFA and try to replay the glory (well, it was a pretty glorious recovery under King Sven anyway). As opposed to crying into our lager and trying to rewrite the past with FIFA 2002′s inevitable World Cup qualification tournament – sighs of relief all round.
There are new tournament modes aplenty in version 2002; not only the World Cup qualification but all the usual suspects such as the major European competitions and so forth. Bonus features have been built in, so when you win these various tournaments you unlock new ones, which gives you an extra incentive to play and win; finding out exactly what classic tournaments are hidden away.
Of course there’s a new banging tune and crisp front end added as well, but most of the general options remain the same. There have been some important tweaks made to the gameplay though – and fortunately they make a positive impact.
The most major change is the addition of a visible power meter, which appears whenever you pass, shoot, cross or whatever – the longer you hold down the button, the harder the resulting shot will be. However, overpower it into the red at the end of the bar and you’ll end up with a hopelessly inaccurate effort. It’s nice to be able to weight passes, and it makes you feel more in control of shooting. Although it is a little harder to score, FIFA veterans will welcome the extra challenge.
Also new is the off-the-ball run feature. Players will actually use their initiative and make runs which are marked by very visible trails. If you pass the ball quickly in that direction, you can set up a blinding through ball. Better still, you can actually send players on runs manually using a button, and then play them through. In combination with the power meter, this grants a new sense of greater control over your attacking moves.
Sadly, playing defence in FIFA 2002 is pretty much the same as in the 2001 version – tough. Players often seem to cover attackers badly when controlled by the AI, and you can’t always switch control quickly enough to the player you want. It’s a case of play all your top pace defenders… as you’ll need that speed every now and then.
Minor bugs are also evident with the formation screen – players can end up out of position – but hopefully these will be patched soon. Other minor niggles include fairly poor pitch texturing (2001 seemed better here!) and the multiplayer online matchup mode, which has a habit of crashing (it’s still a useful feature though for finding online opponents quickly).
Company: Electronic Arts