FIFA 2000 от Al Shur
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FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer Full Hands-On Review (PC)

The newest release in the long running FIFA series from EA Sports is FIFA 2000, known as FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer in North America, as this year, for the first time, the real MLS is included with authentic teams, uniforms and rosters. Let's take a look…

Audio

Keep in mind I am reviewing the American version of the game. In the European version, the same announcers that were in FIFA 99 are again in the booth, Gary Lineker, John Motson and Mark Lawrensen, giving the best play-by-play has to offer. The American version has new announcers, Phil Schoen (ESPN) and Julie Foudy (U.S. Women's National Team and MLS Commentator).

Unfortunately, the game announcing in this version will lag behind that of Motson and Co. in Europe. The audio sounds just like it actually is when Schoen gives player names… audio being pieced together. It just doesn't seem to flow with the same gracefulness as past FIFA versions. Plus I became accustomed to Motson's nice accent. For some reason, though, there are less player names being 'called' this year. In FIFA 2000, you'll hear 1844 player names compared with 2850 in FIFA 99. This despite the fact there are 187 additional teams in FIFA 2000.

EA Sports has done a better job this year with the in game announcing being in tune with what is actually going on, for example, the announcers will give more accurate accounts of the score during game play, and also, during season play, after losing a player to suspension or injury, the announcers will point out the team is not at full strength. This part of the commentary is much improved over past versions of the game.

Crowd chants are much improved as well. It seems to build as you drive down the pitch towards the goal. You really get the feel for being in the stadium.

Meanwhile the FIFA 2000 soundtrack with Robbie Williams leading the way is terrific. I've found myself lagging in the options page singing along with the music before heading into the game itself. Because of the strength of the soundtrack and the accuracy in commentary, the audio rating increases. I'm sure the European version would see a much higher audio rating with Motson and Co. I think EA Sports made a big mistake with the American announcers. The audio loses points because of the announcers and HOW the commentary sounds, not what they say.

Final Thought… Fantastic with Motson, hardly bearable without.

Graphics

Well! The graphics during game play are as good as advertised! As a matter of fact, not only is it better than it has ever been, it is much better than I expected. The cinematic cut-scenes are top notch and the automatic replays after a goal need to be seen to be believed. Animation during game play is smooth. I played the game at a resolution of 1024 x 768 in 3dfx mode and it looks marvelous!

The players have a different, more real look this year. Their movement during game play seems much more natural. And you'll actually see them talking to the camera after scoring a goal in the cinematic cut-scenes. Very Cool!

There is not a big difference with the look of the kits. They do seem a little sharper, more vibrant. Again there are fifty different shirts to choose from, but with different color schemes, it seems there are unlimited combinations to play with. We've seen an end to the fake patches on most of the kits this year, which is a good move in my opinion. If you can't put on the real ones, just leave them all off.

The stadiums have an improved look over past FIFA versions, and the animated crowd works well, especially after scoring a goal. The pitch looks better this year, and the shadows of the ball, players and goals are really top notch. Weather effects are once again very nice. Not a real difference in weather than what you saw in FIFA 99. It would be nice if EA could make the forecast go from sunny to rain in a game, that would be cool, but that does not happen in this version. The graphics are impressive nonetheless.

Final Thought… A soccer game has NEVER looked better!

Game Play

Yes! There is a 100% improvement in the AI intelligence from FIFA 99. This alone should keep FIFA players happy right up until FIFA 2001. The defense played by the computer is much improved. And you will see adjustments made to your style of play. No longer will you be able to make the same play work time after time. Now the computer AI will force you to adjust as they adjust. Much more authentic!

Consecutive season mode, along with season and cup scheduling together, add to the enjoyment of FIFA 2000. There is now promotion and relegation. At the end of a season, the bottom teams will be dropped and the new teams will take their place. This is such a terrific addition to the series, it's hard to have anything bad to say about it, but unfortunately, EA Sports didn't do quite enough home work on this. For example, the Italian Serie A promotes and relegates four teams in real life, while in FIFA 2000, you see only three teams changing divisions. This is minor and doesn't take away from the enjoyment this new feature offers, but I just wonder why it couldn't be exactly right.

EA has also implemented a color scheme of green, yellow and red to let you know how successful your pass might be, and the set plays that have been added are a definite plus.

The new season mode and schedule is a tremendous addition to the game. If you finish at the top of your league, you will also be included in the European Cups for the next season. Very nice.

Now for the negative… Why EA Sports thinks we want to play a pinball game is beyond me. Game play is still too fast. Once again, there are four different speed levels, but the slowest, which is called «normal», is very far from it. If not for EA's stubbornness to give us a slower game, game play would be perfect.

Final Thought… Slowed a bit, it's fantastic!

Options

Oh well… I guess we can't have everything. In my opinion, FIFA 2000 should include at least the top 100 National Teams along with the top 25 leagues from around the world. As it stands, we have only 46 National Teams and 16 leagues to go along with 41 classic teams. The classic teams are nice, and it's obvious a lot of time and effort went into them, but I wonder how many FIFA players around the world would rather see an additional league or two, or more National Teams.

Each roster consists of approximately 18 players, which at first glance, don't seem to be real accurate. You still can't transfer players to and from the National Teams, which is a disappointment for me. I don't quite understand why this is so hard to implement into the game. The rest of the transfer system works very similar to the way it was in FIFA 99. One plus is with the classic team rosters. FIFA 2000 does allow the transfer of players to and from these teams, so if you have a favorite player from an era gone by that you just have to include on your team of this season, you can do it.

One other criticism EA Sports has avoided is the strength of individual players. Why? Well, this year you are allowed to max out the attributes of any player. This was never possible before. In past FIFA versions, you had to take away points from one attribute to add points to another. This could be called cheating, but hey, more power to you.

There are four camera angles to choose from in FIFA 2000, and you can zoom each of them in and out, and up and down. Unfortunately, you can't save the zoom option, so you need to do it before each and every game. Many other options are similar to FIFA 99, but one glaring oversight, (At least that's the way I look at it) is the fact that you cannot choose which stadium you want to play in with FIFA 2000. You also cannot select a home stadium for the teams. Making this worse is the fact that some club teams that actually have it's stadium included in FIFA 2000 do not play it's matches there. Hello! Are you kidding me? If you're going to include the San Siro, why would you give AC Milan another stadium to play in? This makes absolutely NO sense to me. I'm feeling a very low option rating here.

Here's another question I'd like someone to answer. EA Sports went to all the trouble of signing an agreement with the MLS to allow them to include authentic MLS teams, kits and rosters, but there is no MLS league option. Again… Hello!

Final Thought… Not good.

Shelf Life

The one minus here is the absence of internet play, which is included in other 2000 editions of EA Sports PC games. However, with the greatly improved AI intelligence, terrific game play and new consecutive season play with promotion and relegation, FIFA 2000 should see regular playing time well into the next millennium.

Final Thought… Can you wear out a CD?

Overall

If you took the best of every game in the FIFA series and put it together in one package, you'd have a better game. But, honestly, FIFA 2000 still comes out on top when compared with any other of the FIFA games, and basically, FIFA 2000 stands at the top of the pack when compared to ANY other soccer game made to date.

Ric
Soccer Gaming

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© 2000– Александр Шуркаев