GameOver Game Reviews

Game & Publisher FIFA 99 (c) EA Sports
Overall Rating 92%
Date Published , , ,

Divider Left By: L'il Grrr Divider Right

Taking a look back at EA Sports' history the FIFA Soccer series has, undoubtedly, been one of the most successful. The original FIFA Soccer provided great gameplay and graphics that were unmatched for a soccer game at that time; the time was 1995 and, back then, it was a great success. After a year of developing a new engine, EA Sports released FIFA 96. This time around, along with the same great gameplay, it offered high-res graphics, 3D rendered sprites, and Virtual Stadium. Taking it a step further, FIFA 97 was set in a polygonal world and provided even more realistic animations for the players. By this time, in the field of soccer games, EA Sports was well ahead of everybody else. But in 1998, they started to dominate in the field of soccer games. FIFA 98: Road To World Cup was made. It added beautiful 3D accelerated graphics and smooth frame rates, but at the same time, it had some horrid AI flaws. With World Cup just around the corner, they released World Cup 98, a revamped FIFA 98: Road To World. This was basically the same game as FIFA 98: Road To World Cup but improved on the gameplay by a fairly large margin and concentrated only on the World Cup (not the clubs). So a half a year later, FIFA 99 is released. Does FIFA 99 provide EA Sports' another step in reassuring its dominance or does it not live up to the expectations? In my opinion, it should easily exceed any expectations.

The Good: Good graphics, amazingly smooth animations, good improvement in sound, a numerous amount of improvements in the gameplay, do I have to go on?

The Bad: Some individual flair moves from World Cup 98 are missing, some customable options in the play department are also missing, multiplayer is just crap.

To start off the graphics. At first glance, it might not seem like a big improvement from World Cup 98. But after playing it for just a few minutes, you'd realize how much better FIFA 99 is. The animations of the players are a lot smoother. Because the wait time between getting the ball and accelerating is now almost non existent, the play flows with a much better pace. In addition, there are also a numerous amount of animations added to this game (chesting a ball, shooting while sliding, downward headers, just to name a few). The players are also a little more detailed this time around. You can actually notice the difference between small and big players. Ariel Ortega does not look as tall as Tore Andre Flo anymore. The realistic animations and delineative atmosphere makes it very depictive of the real game. Since World Cup 98 was already a beautiful looking soccer game, FIFA 99 is undoubtedly one of the best looking games I've ever laid my eyes on.

As expected, the sound FX is similar to the old series. I for one can't really notice any difference. The duo of John Motzen and Chris Hoddle is back, but this time, there is an alternate 2nd commentator. John Motzen is still the main commentator, but Chris Hoddle is sometimes replaced by Mark Larnsen. This variety adds a realistic feel to the game's real life counterpart. There are also fewer noticeable errors that the announcers would make in a game, although, there are still some. The menu music is also changed slightly. Tubthumping and Song 2 are not present, but replaced by a funky/jazzy tune that is unknown to me. The rest consists of generic techno. From a general point of view, with the addition of Mark Larnsen and the fewer noticeable errors, it is an improvement from World Cup 98.

So both the graphics and the sound is a solid step up from World Cup 98, but how does it play? Well in short, it is amazingly real. This game is presented in many different modes. In Season Mode, there are many levels of Cups and Leagues you can compete for, depending on how good your team is or where your team is located. There is also a setting for custom Cups and Leagues to play in. The Friendly Mode, Quick Game Mode, and the Training Mode are self explanatory. There is a new Golden Goal Mode. This is just playing a friendly game where the first team to score wins. There is also a European Dream League. This consists of a season where the best european clubs are put into one league (Arsenal, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and more all in one league). The teams from, the Brazilian League, the Premiere League, the MLS and even the Belgium League, are all here. There is also the small clubs that have some decent players. They belong in the "Rest Of Europe" category. The AI has been improved by a fairly large margin from World Cup 98 (and that is a huge feat). The most noticeable addition is probably the amount of time it takes a player to get the ball and accelerating. In World Cup 98, players took an awful amount of time from getting the ball to running with it and as a result, your players would be crowded by 2-3 players from the opposite side by the time you get it. So in FIFA 99, the wait time between getting the ball and accelerating is almost non existent (like in real life). As a result, the transition between offense and defense is greatly improved. This also makes for a better chance at possessing the ball and makes for a better passing game. Another huge improvement over the old FIFA games is the heading. The player sizes are now noticeable. 7'0 players and 5'0 players have a difference in height in the game. This time around, having players like Tore Andre Flo helps the wingplay greatly. In perspective, you would not start playing the wingplay with a team if your two forwards are Michael Owen and Marc Overmars because like in real life, it is almost impossible to head a goal in by those two tiny forwards. Also in the wingplay department, all crosses do not arrive to the offensive player all the time now. In World Cup 98, the easiest way to score was to head every corner in. That is improved greatly as FIFA 99 provides a more realistic corner kick setting with crosses missing 75% of the time. There are also all sorts of ways a player can bring down the ball in FIFA 99. From letting the ball hit his chest to downward heading the ball to another player, it makes the offence flow much smoother. The defence AI is also fixed. There are less breakaways, and odd man rushes because the defence of the opponent stays back most of the time. There are some flaws though, albeit very minor. The customability of the plays is downgraded. You no longer have the choice to set how offensive a player can be individually. This takes away from the rushing defenceman type of game if you have a player like Roberto Carlos on your team. There are also fewer individual flair moves. The only 3 that made the cut are the sidestep, the spin, and the useless kick around. But as a consolation, there is a large addition of ways to score. You can score when sliding to reach those long lobs, heading down a ball when running, and much more. The three difficulty setting this time around is not shrewd. Amateur is for 10 yr olds period. Professional is probably what most people would prefer playing at. It is not very difficult but provides a realistic game. World Class is as expected difficult, but this time around, the computer does not score cheap goals. Instead, they play tight defence and a good breakout that would punish you if you didn't take care of the defence on your end. This takes a lot of frustration away (For example in World Cup 98, you would be leading 1-0 but the computer would score from a shot outside the box to tie it up, while there is almost no chance you would score on the same play.) because when you do get scored on, it is mostly on your behalf. And oh yes, Ronaldo is not in the game. Instead he is replaced by a generic player named G. Silva. It's not too hard to find him and rename him however; he'll just be missed from the play by play. His statistics are still almost identical to the previous game. All in all, gameplay is what makes a game great, and this game is definitely "great".

Multiplayer was never EA Sports' strength in their games. FIFA 99 is definitely an example of EA Sports' weakness in the multiplayer department. NHL 99's support through TCP/IP was so bad, EA Sports' decided to scrap TCP/IP support altogether for FIFA 99. The only options offered are Modem, LAN, and Direct Connect. The last two options should be ok, but playing over the modem subjects you to extreme lags. The other way to play multiplayer, which is probably how EA Sports pictured everyone playing, is to play on 1 computer. In summary, multiplayer is probably the only big flaw this great game has.

In summary, until FIFA 2000, this is probably the best representation of a soccer game you would ever find on the PC, or in any other game. On second thought, this is probably the best representation of a sport game. For soccer fans and people that are just mildly interested in soccer, FIFA 99 would provide many hours of fun. Sport games often sit on my HD for a month or two before it is depleted from boredom, but like World Cup 98, this game seems like it'll be there until EA Sports releases a new soccer game. In short, it is a must have for anyone!

Graphics: 20 / 20
Sound: 14 / 15
Gameplay: 29 / 30
Fun Factor: 20 / 20
Multiplayer Play: 2 / 5
Overall Impression: 10 / 10


Divider Left By: Krusty66 Divider Right

Soccer, probably the world's national sport. Who better to represent it then EA Sports? They followed up Fifa 98 and World Cup 98 with this offering, Fifa 99. Fifa 99 offers many if not most of the European leagues as well as the National Teams. Throughout the review, you'll notice the comparsions to FIFA 98 and World Cup 98 because the only real competition for EA is themselves.

After the very impressive Fifa 98, EA didn't do anything drastic with the graphics. They are as sharp as ever and the players look more detailed. Also, in the 98 series, they seemed a little too chunky and EA has made it a little more smoother. The best improvement they have made was the player's animation, especially between plays and after goals. You really get into it when your player missed by an inch and he shows his disgust or disappointment. Or how the goalie stands over the player looking in disgust as the forward celebrates his goal. It may be small, but these tidbits make you feel part of the action or watching it on TV. It accomplishes both easily. The dribbling has been improved, when you stop, the player also reaches out to stop the ball. This is the pinnacle of soccer graphics right now. However, I have ONE quirk... just one, the crowds still look gay, the flat crowds make the amazing playing field and stadium look worse off. The good thing is, the game is good enough to make you not notice the crowds at all.

The opening music, in my opinion, was a downgrade of 98's Tubthumping and Song 2. However, the music can still lull you into the usual state of soccer frenzy. It's techno beats prepare you well for the upcoming action. The in-game sound is the usual kicks, cheers, and jeers. It goes well with the action and really reflects the feeling of the home crowd, like in real life. The play by play was done very well. It was your basic English style of commentary, controlled and intelligent. It was smooth and followed the action well, just like it's WC and FIFA 98 younger brothers. The best point about it is that it announces it correctly, EA seems to be one of the few companies able to do it. Overall, good stuff that will please your ears, but nothing here to take advantage of the Soundblaster Live and such new great sound cards.

There were 4 modes of playing, Friendly, European Dream League, Season and Golden Goal. Friendly is your usual quick exhibition game that means nothing. There are two nifty features, the quick start allows you to enter the game in about 2-3 clicks. Also, you can save the teams you usual play with to speed up the setup even more. The season allows you to join your favorite league, or try your hand at any other the many leagues they offer. Golden Goal was interesting. It resembles Streetball. You choose a certain amount of goals to go up to and play until you reach that amount, regardless of how long it takes.

The menu was easy to navigate and setup the games. Also, it was very customizable, I could make new players, change my favorite player to be superman, or make my own Ronaldo, who was missing from the game. The team could also be changed, so for those statistics freaks, you can tweak to your heart's delight.

This game kicks total ass. The camera now rolls a little, like soccer on TV. The controls are basically the same, so it was very easy for to pick it up from FIFA 98 and World Cup 98. The controls are easy to learn, but to execute the nifty moves in soccer takes a ton of practice, but that practice is well worth it. Unfortunately, you can't customize the controls to whatever you want, meaning you have to guess the combos to pull off a Ronaldo move.

The players now have the ability to chest trap the ball and it's become a great way of controlling a high ball and not letting it be tackled everytime. The airborne moves, for me, were much easier to do in the game and once you get the timing down, it's a cinch.

The players on your team controlled by the computer now have something resembling a brain. They stick to their positions and run in for crosses during your attack. They also position themselves for an open pass so that the offense can run smoothly. The opponent, not to be outdone has been tweaked too. They run a well-tuned offense, control air borne balls well and push relentlessly to your goal. The goalie AI has been revamped a little for realism. This makes them beatable with skill, instead of being determined by the possession time and shots taken in the older versions. The referee has finally entered the picture, they are shown more during fouls and the offender and the victim both try to convince him as he hands out the sentence.

Game play is second to none, but even the best aren't perfect. The snow and rain don't affect the ground at all, where did they go? Also, sliding players don't make marks like NHL 99. The problem is that there's really no point to buy this if you already own World Cup 99.

Fun Factor:
This game is addictive, sweet and a ton of fun with two players. However, you do need at least one controller, which is a small price to pay for the amount of joy you get. Also, I hear the keyboard gives you more moves, but I am a die-hard Gravis Pro user. Two Gravis Pros or Sidewinders and 2 to 3 players can have a blast. Even by yourself, this game is amazing. The Dream League is for people who want to know the cream of the crop in Europe. (Unfortunately, us North Americans aren't good enough to make the league.) If you prefer to play in your favorite league, they are included in the game as well. The one thing it was missing, surprisingly, was the World Cup. Since this isn't a World Cup year, I don't think EA should release a World Cup flavor of this game. Having no World Cup is like a NCAA basketball game with no Final Four tournament or a NFL game with no Super Bowl. The Holy Grail of the game is gone. Of course, if you play your friends all the time, the World Cup won't be missed that much, but I feel sorry for those hardcore single players. This is a bad thing, but for what it has, it still delivers mind-numbing fun.

No TCP\IP!? Come on EA, everything else is great, where's the net play. Boasting 20 players is useless. Boast TCP\IP! Then the 20 players will be great! Fortunately, there still is modem and serial play, which is fine, but its limitation being only 2 computer can be used. Networks can also be utilized, and in this age of LAN parties, is viable. But the bottom line is, the Internet is the best medium for players to play against each other. EA, shape up and get to work on it. Do whatever it takes... heck, steal id's code! *hint, hint, nudge, nudge*

Overall Impression:
I loved it. I have 2 controllers so my friends and I have a blast with the amazing product. Even without TCP\IP or the World Cup, I play it all the time. At times I felt like a spectator, drinking in the sights of a real game, without having to pay the airfare and ticket price to go to Europe for a game. At other times, I felt like a professional, feeling the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Way to go EA!

Great game, but no TCP\IP and even with AI improvement doesn't make everyone want to run out to grab this title. But those with World Cup 98, this HAS to be you next purchase, for any sports fan.

Graphics: 19/20
Sound: 12/15
Gameplay: 28/30
Fun Factor: 18/20
Multiplayer: 3/5
Overall Impression: 10/10


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