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Fifa 99 is currently the best football (Soccer to you lot over the pond) in the world, no question. No other football game has come close to taking its crown over the past 2 years. Just recently a new wave of football titles have been hitting the stores, Microsoft International Soccer 2000, and the rather excellent Dreamcast title called UEFA Striker. Fifa 99 was the most played title in my collection of PC games over the past year, it was great fun to play against friends and not bad on single player for a few months. So how does Fifa 2000 fair and what improvements have been made to justify another yearly release?
Take note: I will not be complaining about the Americanized (Dire) commentary due to getting a UK version with John Motson for review:
Here are some of the features:
Installation, Settings and Intro
Fifa 2000 comes on 1 CD, the game can take up to 150 MB's of drive space on your Pc if you decide to go the whole hog and install everything (Bar the FMV) via the Custom installation. The typical installation takes up 80 MB's of drive space but as I am likely to be playing it quite a lot over the next few months, I went for the 150 MB installation through the custom mode. The installation went smoothly, detected that I am using DirectX 7 so the program did not need to try and install DirectX 6.1 on my PC.
Next you need to go into the 3D Setup menu via your start bar, from here you have to decide which graphics card you will use during the game, I went for the G400 so I would be playing the game in Direct3D at a resolution of 1024x768. Finally it is time to start the game, it begins with the usual EA Sports introduction movie, but unfortunately this one is below par, it even features an animated version of Robbie Williams in it (Why? This is a football game, not a music video), poor compared to the usual EA Sports standard.
It took me some time to fall in love with Fifa 99, and the same goes with Fifa 2000. There are some good changes and some strange bad ones added too. Let us go with the good ones first, there are far more teams from across the world to choose from this time around including Major League Soccer teams (Sigh, there is that word soccer again). I cannot really comment on the team line-ups and statistics for the MLS teams as I don't tend to follow football in that part of the world, just proper football in Europe, but the majority of European team line-ups seem correct, although a few players are out of position yet again.
There is now a season feature where you can compete in both a league and cup competition, but this is again quite limited, it would be nice to see full league seasons such as the Premier League's four divisions with relegations and proper cup competitions, this would greatly improve the season feature. There are slightly (and I mean slightly) improved management features. You are now able to transfer players during your season, nothing along the lines of the superb and unbeatable Championship Manager 3 but you are able to spend money on new signings, but unfortunate you could play as a team like Watford and still bring in top class players if you have the money (They wouldn't touch Watford in real life) as the teams you buy the players from cannot object to your offers.
Now we come to the formation setup, again there are slight improvements, but correct me if I am wrong, but some certain formations are missing. My favorite one 4-2-4 doesn't seem to be an option in the game anymore. The in-game tactics now allow you to do both attacking press and the offside trap (Which works too easily).
Now a few bad points, it is far too easy to score from corners with the new free kick setup, you can select a certain button on your game pad (A, Y or C) and a special set-piece will take place, this means that you can select a certain player in the box and the ball always seem to end up going to him, then all you have to do is to decide which shot you will do, header or volley and the chances are that it will end up in the back of the net. In-Game stats haven't improved much either, there still isn't enough information about separate players in the game as to how their passes or shots are going.
Graphics, Sound & Music
You can't really fault Fifa 2000 graphically, I can complain that the speed in Direct3D mode on the G400 card I am reviewing on seems to be quite choppy at times though and doesn't improve no matter what resolution I choose from. I tried Glide support for my Voodoo 2 and that was much better and far smoother which I found strange. Facial expressions are much better in this version of Fifa over the others and the new replays are excellent showing off your goals via different angles and the new crowd animations, while not great, are a good addition.
The commentary in Fifa 2000 is up to the usual excellent standard (UK version) with John Motson and Mark Lawrensen both coming out with more varied responses than they have done before. Chants from the stands are also more varied and now rub salt into the wounds of the player you are up against when you score. Musically you can't fault Fifa 2000, the only problem I have with the music is that Robbie Williams was added to the introduction movie when he really shouldn't have been.
Another good Fifa release and one that improves on a number of features from Fifa 99. That isn't to say that there are no faults in the game, because there are - no internet play yet again is one major flaw that needs to be corrected as soon as possible by EA. Take note that I have put a number of bad points into the box below, this is simply because I play Fifa so much I feel I know what things should and shouldn't be fixed. Overall an almost perfect release, almost.
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