The Active Network

Amazon.com

Product: Microsoft - International Football 2000
Company: Westwood
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/games
Estimated Street Price: 35/$40
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

Well now, we can feel a little skeptical about Microsoft's latest foray into the world of Football (Soccer to some of you). Their last effort was unfortunately laughable, this time though they have enlisted the help of Rage (Makers of Incoming and Striker). Here are a few of the features:

  • Superior Gameplay Design
    Microsoft International Football 2000 re-creates the excitement, speed, pace, atmosphere, tactics and strategy of world-class soccer. Player formations and strategies are designed according to how each position relates to a team's overall playing strategy.

    The game's artificial intelligence (AI) was developed with the guidance and assistance of some of England's top football coaches and Glenn Roeder, a former Football Association player. This in-depth AI allows players to perform in the manner their position dictates in any given situation and react convincingly to any play as needed.
  • Unique One-Touch Controls
    Microsoft International Football 2000 features a unique one-touch control system that acts and reacts to gamers' input. The one-touch control feature is easy to learn, allowing players to quickly discover and enjoy the game's depth. No matter what the situation, the basic idea of the one-touch system is the same: to provide a consistent and predictable response with a single touch.

    As gamers improve and master the use of the basic pass and shoot controls, they can learn more sophisticated ball and player controls. By using the one-touch control feature, gamers can low-kick, high-kick, make contact and sprint down the field - making for an ultra-realistic and rewarding gaming experience.
  • Smooth and Sophisticated Gameplay
    The excitement of a real soccer game is brought to life with over 200 player moves, 9,000 frames of motion-captured animation, and extensive commentary and conversations by Jonathan Pearce and Ron Atkinson, both well-known English coaches.
  • World-Class Visuals
    International Football 2000 features spectacular animation, with resolutions up to 1024x780, running up to 60 frames per second. International Football 2000 scores a goal with authenticity by the use of real-time lighting and shadows on the players and ball, and the re-creation of eight stunning and realistic stadiums complete with weather and time-of-day options.
  • Playing Against the World
    Play with international teams in a variety of tournaments and leagues. Create your own leagues or competitions and attempt to guide your team to a world championship. Save preset matches between your favorite teams, or replay classic moments in international soccer history using the Classic Match mode.

Installation & Settings

Installation is a breeze, Autoplay starts once you put the CD into your CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive and then the install begins. The most brain taxing thing you have to do here is to decide what type of install you want, small, typical or full. The game will also install DirectX 6.1 and DirectMedia if you don't already have them installed.

Once the game is installed you click on the new icon via your desktop, then you are able to decide on what display settings you want to use. I setup my G400 to 1280x1024 and loaded the game up. The game begins with the usual Full Motion Video intro, nothing special about it, just a plain old stadium and a few special effects.

At last we can get onto the gaming side of things, we are presented with a number of options upon loading the game - they include

  • Friendly - Choose from a number of teams and play against either the PC or a friend.
  • New Tournament - Choose from a number of preset tournaments or create your own.
  • Options - From here you can change sound, display and control options.
  • Exit Game - Return to the desktop.

Gameplay

I began my first game with the friendly option, I selected the two default teams, England and France. Before starting the first game, there are a number of settings to choose from such as Weather (Snow, Rain or Sunny), Stadiums etc. I yet again went with the default settings. The game begins with your team coming out of the tunnel, the first thing I noticed was that the player names are not correct, I'm sorry If I sound dumb, but I have never figured out why some companies can use player names while others such as Microsoft/Rage have to make up their own?

ms_foot_3.jpg (76473 bytes) ms_foot_4.jpg (106667 bytes)

The controls are quite basic considering the number of moves available to you, playing on the Microsoft Freestyle Pro certainly made things easier. The basic moves are shoot, tackle, pass, sprint, high ball, low ball, defend the ball. The game allows you to hold the shoot/pass buttons down for harder of faster shots/passes, one of the few improvements over the current top of the crop Fifa 99. The controls in the game are not quite up to the Fifa standard, pressing pass for instance, once pressed you can't seem to get out of doing it if it was a mistake, so pressing pass then pressing shoot will still result in a pass.

Microsoft International Football 2000 is certainly full of fast paced action, but it is a little bit too easy to be tackled so fluid passing football is hard to come by. There are no special moves like in Fifa so if you want to shimming, dummy or a nutmeg players look elsewhere because you won't find those here. The game has a different feel from Fifa 99, no it doesn't have as many moves as Fifa but gameplay and enjoyment wise, it is a damn sight better than F.A. Premier League Stars.

Graphics

Microsoft International Football can be run in a massive amount of resolutions, depending on your graphics card of course. I'm using the G400 so Direct3D resolutions and speed are not a problem so I went straight ahead and ran the game in 1280x1024. The animation on the players is excellent, kit designs are almost perfect and the stadium designs are much better than I have seen in any other football game thus far (Fifa 2000 excluded). That doesn't mean that it doesn't have any problems because it certainly does, some players shirts get jaded at the edges when close up, the player faces could be improved, the weather effects are bad and the net looks pretty awful.

ms_foot_2.jpg (96849 bytes)

Sound & Music

Oh dear, Jonathan Pearce and Ron Atkinson are quite dull commentators in my mind in real life let alone on a computer game. All could be forgiven if the commentary is varied but unfortunately it isn't, it is one of the most repetitive commentaries I have ever heard. Crowd sounds are much better though with some great build up noise, but it just doesn't help me forget the dire commentary. Oh and Ron, hitting the post does not mean the keeper made an excellent save.

Final Comments

How It Grades
Originality: 60%
Gameplay: 75%
Story: N/A
Graphics: 84%
Cutscenes: 70%
Sound: 72%
Music:71%
Interface: 86%
Multiplayer: 78%
Overall: 78%

Microsoft International Football still doesn't manage to take Fifa's crown but it is probably the closest any game has come thus far. It may not have a great deal of special moves, but it does have some fast, enjoyable action. Hopefully we will see a new version released each year, because I feel that if various improvements are added, then Microsoft could have a really great game on their hands.

 

Overall Score 78%
Version Reviewed Version 1.0 UK
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 CD
1 Set of instructions
The Good Points Good Graphics with high resolutions
Fast gameplay
Fun
The Bad Points Not enough special moves
Lacks fluid movement
Awful Commentary
Repetitive Celebrations
No real player names
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
128 Meg SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
Voodoo 2 - 8mb
DirectX 6.1a
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" LG Electronics Monitor
Microsoft Force Feedback Pro
Microsoft Freestyle Pro (USB)
Microsoft Digital Sound System 80 (USB)

DVD Setup: Toshiba SD-1202 DVD-ROM - 32x
DVD TV Player - Samsung 807

PC Required Pentium 133/50 MMX or higher processor.
Windows 95/98
32MB of RAM
Quad speed or faster CD-ROM drive.
Mouse
Super VGA, 16 Bit Color Monitor.
Windows 95 compatible sound board
Speakers or headphones required for audio.

 

This site is not related to the Microsoft Corporation in any way. Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation. ActiveWindows is an independent site. The information and sources here are obtained from series of hard work & research.