2002 FIFA World Cup Review (PS2)
If EA Sports is considered the big bad wolf of sports game it’s because they have done everything they could to gain that image. Every year only a few games from EA Sports seem to see any real improvement. More often EA Sports rips out key features, installs gimmicky gameplay and produces games that seem to be made for a quick sale not for extended gameplay.
If I’m coming down hard on EA Sports it’s only out of frustration. They have the resources and money to make really great games but it seems their games come up short. FIFA World Cup 2002 is no different. The game shows a lot of potential in the gameplay but fails incredibly short in terms of options and features.
My main complaint with the game is that there are no features that warrant playing the game over and over again. There are only two game modes, friendly and tournament. That’s the primary reason the game gets old quickly. Friendly is a just an exhibition mode while tournament let’s you replay the World Cup Tournament. That’s it. It would have been nice to see a qualifying round or some way to edit the teams that are in the tournament.
Where EA Sports focused all their attention is presentation. More importantly they concentrated on making the game true to the World Cup held this year in South Korea. Before each game there’s quite an elaborate show at the real life WC venue. Each team comes on to the field with their flags and does a very good lip-singing national anthem.
On the field, the game doesn’t look anything like it’s old counterparts. Gone are the days of running down the side and scoring on a bicycle kick. The game still is pinball-like but you can see an attempt made to make the game more simulation oriented. A sign is the speed of play. The game is slow and deliberate maybe a little too much so. For instance even running with the ball appear to happen in slow-motion. The entire offense except dribbling is handled with meters, including air and ground passes, and shooting. Passing with a meter is more of a pain than an innovation. The system in WC 02 seems to be too sensitive because in tough situations when you want to get off a quick one to pass you can supercharge the meter resulting in a busted up play. This would be realistic if it didn’t happen so often. The passing system with regard to direction is also extremely sensitive to the point of frustration. Like I said, sometimes you want to get off a quick pass and won’t have the exactly angle only to kick it to no man’s land. New to the game is an EA assistant. This option let’s you see where the players are going to go on runs for both your offense and the CPU’s offense. A nice option but because the passing model isn’t perfect you’ll try to connect a player on a run only to have the ball end no where near the player. On top of this is the fact that the player on the run doesn’t attempt to go after the ball.
The shooting system is improved as well but again not perfect. The game is oriented toward making every goal look spectacular. Shots have the super curve that Beckham pulls off maybe once every ten times. While passing balls seem a bit slow, kicks are not. They are the super shots that only happen when a player puts his full weight into a kick. Lastly, it seems that shots on goal are either predetermined to go in or there’s really bad kicking animations. I say this because some shots come off at a weird angle off the foot. Plus it seems there isn’t a difference what foot you strike a ball. If a player is predominately left but shoots with his right the ball with still come off like a cannon.
Goalkeeping is the sore spot of the game. I would describe it as being poor. The keeper too often comes out of the net when there’s little need too. An example would be on a long pass to a defender who’s making a run, the keeper goes out to collect a ball that is too far away. When the player runs under the ball keep is so far out of position that any shot on goal results in a score. There’s also some instances where the keeper will get into position but won’t make the stop. This has resulted in some goals from midfield.
FIFA games in the past always seemed to have outstanding graphics. This year the graphics look very cartoonish. Players are stocky and have unusually large heads. It’s not doubt an attempt to make it easy to differentiate between players. However at certain cut scenes the players don’t look that right. Not bad just very cartoony.
Returning to the game is John Motson who seems to phone in his commentary. It provides all the usual stuff like who has a ball and what certain players are going. The color man is completely useless. He talks little about actual gameplay and is more concerned with telling us about the stadiums or how beautiful Korea is.
To wrap this up, this game shows potential but this game was made to capitalize on cup fever. In no means is this game worth a full retail purchase. There are some positives in the game but without a qualifying component, no way to edit teams or modify the tournament then there’s no reason to play this game past a few times. I’m sorry to say but FIFA World Cup 2002 is game to catch consumers when they get cup fever rather a game to provide the ultimate World Cup experience. What’s even worse is this seems to be a trend in EA Sports games. I hope the FIFA 2003 offers a more complete soccer experience rather than just trying to make a buck.