Review by lukecharman

Reviewed: 01/02/03 | Updated: 01/02/03

*Drools* FIFA is back, better than ever!

The FIFA games have always been about ultimate realism, authenticity, and playability. Many people have criticised the series as of late, preferring to play such games as Winning Eleven of International Superstar Soccer. While I am not here to quash those particular games, I will say that they are a lot more arcade-oriented than our friend FIFA, and besides, the latest FIFA offering is very different from anything you’ve played before.

Graphics – 9
The last FIFA game, World Cup 2002, had the single most realistic graphics I have ever witnessed in a sports game, whether it be football or anything else. It was completely clear who every single player on the pitch was, without having to read their shirt number. Owen was Owen and Beckham was Beckham. That is one hell of a predecessor to have to improve on graphically. The players in FIFA 2003 differ to those in World Cup 2002, and while they are not as perfectly chiselled, they are still superbly realistic, and the majority of famous faces are recognisable. As for the kits, they are all fully sponsored this year, authentic kits from every league in the game. The players are, of course, all named properly, thanks to the FIFA license, no need for ridiculous pseudonyms here. The stadia are pretty too, and everything from the smoky flares being set off in the crowd to the police officers enforcing orderly conduct by the fans add to the atmosphere that you’re really there, in the stadium, playing a game of football.

Sound – 6
I don’t like Ally McCoist. I’m sorry if he ever reads this interview, but I don’t like him, plain and simple. Now John Motson, there’s a legend, a true commentarial genius. The FIFA series has seen a fair few commentators in its time, from Andy Gray and Des Lynam to Gary Lineker, however I must say that my least favourite of the lot has to bee Ally. Then again, I cannot pin all of the blame on him, the commentary in general in 2003 isn’t too spectacular, with the same hackneyed quips being hoisted from the bag of commentary and sprinkled into the player’s ears every two minutes. If I hear Ally McCoist saying, “If anyone thinks football isn’t an emotional game, just look at that lad’s face”, I swear I am going to kill somebody. Thankfully, the sound isn’t all bad, the effects are truly stunning. Every kick of the ball seems to sound different, and controlling the ball on various parts of the body all sounds true to life. The crowd too sound authentic, with trademarks chants and songs for the different teams. The soundtrack is varied at best, a couple of good tracks such as Idlewild’s “You Held The World In Your Arms”, but truly, do we need the vocal ‘talent’ of Ms. Dynamite in a football game? I think not.

Gameplay – 10
Here it is, the crème de la crème of football gaming. A true masterpiece, every kick of the ball, every player run, every glorious goal feels like you’re on the ball yourself, drilling it into the top corner of the net. FIFA 2003 plays like a dream, like all the previous FIFA games should have. I was taken aback a couple of years ago when FIFA 2001 introduced the power system to passes and shots, but since then I have got used to using it, and I find it a much better way to play the game and score goals. Previous FIFA games using the power bar to kick the ball have had the bar build up to the perfect kick, and the player able to go over that perfect kick by a very small amount. FIFA 2003, however, varies how easy it is to miskick the ball by the ability of the particular player. So, for example, if you were to take one of your defenders up to have a shot at goal, chances are it would be a lot more difficult to get the power bar to it’s optimum than if you had a striker take the shot. This is a great new system, and it leads to a great new FIFA.

Lifespan – 8
The game features seventeen leagues from all over the world, fifteen of those able to be played as full yearly seasons. There are also numerous competitions, tournaments, and cups to be won, and new stadia and teams to unlock. The game is also a great deal of fun in multiplayer, whether you decide to all play on the same side, or to take each other on.

Rent Or Buy?
If you’re a fan of football, or sports games in general, I suggest you pick this up. If you’re thinking, ‘I already own World Cup 2002, I don’t need this’, you could not be more wrong. It’s everything World Cup 2002 was and more.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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