Game Over Online ~ FIFA 2001

GameOver Game Reviews - FIFA 2001 (c) EA Sports, Reviewed by - Jimmy Clydesdale

Game & Publisher FIFA 2001 (c) EA Sports
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 80MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 87%
Date Published Friday, November 3rd, 2000 at 08:07 PM

Divider Left By: Jimmy Clydesdale Divider Right

One of EA Sports' most consistent performers over the past few years has been their FIFA series. It seems almost every year it's in competition with their NHL series for the Sports Game of the Year, at least in our books. That was, until last year. FIFA 2000 was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. The soccer franchise made a sudden arcade departure, becoming almost as laughable as EA Sports' Triple Play series. The gameplay no longer represented the sport, the commentary was dreary and the lack of multiplayer didn't help either. Thankfully, in FIFA 2001, EA Sports has reverted back to what made the FIFA series so popular, solid gameplay, eye-popping visuals and a pair of blokes calling the game.

FIFA 2001 contains all the modes gamers have become accustomed too in this soccer franchise. If you're looking to learn or improve your skills, in particular some of the more difficult moves that aren't quite as simple as they were in FIFA 2000, a training mode is available. If you're looking to jump right into a game, an Exhibition mode is also available. Otherwise the main gaming modes are all in tact: Exhibition, Tournament, League, Cup, and Season. There are 17 soccer leagues represented in FIFA 2001, including such professional leagues as Major League Soccer, Spanish Primera League, and the English Premiere League, among others. Diehard soccer fans are likely to notice that there are a couple of leagues that don't make an appearance in FIFA 2001, but that's due to licensing agreements that don't allow EA Sports access to their players and teams. The leagues and teams that are available in FIFA 2001 are complete with fairly up-to-date rosters and statistics. One of the biggest improvements in FIFA 2001 is the addition of multiplayer. EA has implemented their online player-matching service, so soccer fans should have no problems hooking up with gamers all around the world for a quick game or two.

EA Sports has always been on top of their game when it comes to visuals and FIFA 2001 is no exception. Like the other EA Sports titles we've seen this year (NHL 2001, Madden 2001, etc.), the player models have received quite the touch-up. All new motion-captured movements allow for more lifelike strikes, passes, and tackles, and the level of detail, particularly in the facial features of each player, is outstanding. Everything from goal scoring celebrations to the fans in the stands has been improved, resulting in a much more realistic gaming experience.

Sometimes it's good to go home and in terms of the audio department, FIFA 2001 is a prime example. Gone are the horrible US commentators found in last year's edition. John Motson and Mark Lawrenson have returned in FIFA 2001 to provide sound insight into the game. I'm not sure if it's really a difference in the quality of the comments more than it is their accents, but I'm glad their capable voices are back and it makes the play-by-play and color commentating that much better. As for the rest of the sound, much of it seems to have been recycled from last year's edition. Grunts, cheers and jeers from the crowd, and players making comments on the field, it all returns and does it's part to create a solid soccer environment.

While FIFA 2000 was an unbearable arcade experience, FIFA 2001 has returned to its roots of soccer simulation. It still caters to both casual and hardcore soccer fans, but players looking for a challenge are sure to find it here. For starters, the dimensions of the field have been increased. What this does is allow for more ball control, strategy and improved formation use. You won't have to worry about having a defender on top of you at all times, but that doesn't mean they don't close in quick. On the highest difficulty setting, against some of the upper echelon teams from Europe, you'll find that the AI reacts with lightning speed. One of the few unrealistic elements of FIFA 2001 is the fact that opposing players can slide tackle you from ridiculous distances, usually without penalty. Whereas in FIFA 2000, it was simple to perform a bicycle kick, you'll find such exotic moves way more complicated in this year's edition. Pulling them off with regularity will require a few sessions in the training mode.

FIFA 2001 also incorporates a pair of passing systems onto the field. The first interface places a radar screen in the upper corner with players represented as colored dots. The second interface utilizes colored arrows that surround the active player, indicating how successful a pass in the indicated direction might be. EA Sports has also incorporated more offensive and defensive strategies than in previous editions, allowing gamers to design their team's play on the field. One of the biggest issues with FIFA 2001 is undoubtedly the controls, or rather the lack of an option to reconfigure the controls from the menu system. FIFA 2001 is arguably a game that requires a gamepad of some kind, but whether you have one or not, you won't be able to change or switch some of the controls around without great hassle.

When the final whistle blows and the fans begin to riot, FIFA 2001 once again emerges as one of the better sports titles of the year. The departure to arcade-style play last year was thankfully just a phase. FIFA 2001 is back on track with its fantastic visuals and solid gameplay, and the addition of multiplayer increases the replay value considerably. Without a doubt, FIFA 2001 will challenge EA Sports' NHL 2001 and 3DO's High Heat Baseball, once again, as Sports Game of the Year.

[ 44/50 ] Gameplay
[ 10/10 ] Graphics
[ 09/10 ] Sound
[ 06/10 ] Controls
[ 09/10 ] Bugs
[ 09/10 ] Multiplayer


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