Soccer fans will really enjoy World Cup 98. It has everything you would want in a game featuring World Cup soccer, from classic matches of yesteryear to all the stadiums from the 1998 championship in France to all the real players from the 32 countries which participated in the tournament that year.
The graphics are really nice. The players look as close to real as possible (I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I did notice Alexi Lalas' flowing red locks right away) and they move fluidly. When they score goals they jump around and celebrate, sometimes even piling on each other if it's a big goal. The stadiums look beautiful; they even have all those corporate ads around the sidelines. In fact, the attention to detail is so exact in this game that you can see the blue and white parts of the soccer ball rotate as it spins through the air.
I've had some problems running Electronic Arts games on my machine, but this one runs nice and smooth. I played it on a 333 Mhz machine with 96 Mb of RAM and had no problems despite the fact that EA's football games ran choppily or didn't recognize my 3D card. I really like games which don't require a phone call to the tech-support department just to get them running properly.
My only gripe in this department is the presence of four-way shadows (indicating that the sun is directly overhead) during night games.
Over on the audio side, I like the way this game sounds, although it could use more oomph in the crowd noise. Soccer crowds have to be the best in all of sports; they chant and cheer constantly, but World Cup 98 doesn't quite capture everything. The commentary is done by British announcers Chris Waddle and John Motson, and EA did a nice job with them. Their comments are varied and follow the action well; I never found myself struck by an out-of-place comment, which happens often with sports games.
They also take into account the game as a whole when they talk. For example, if the game is really lopsided or really close they'll make comments about the action in that light. They'll say that a goal by a team which is really beating up on another one "has broken the match wide open" or a score "has them back in the match." When the game reaches half-time they'll comment on what's happened so far and what the losing team has to do to catch up. The commentary is constant while you play and makes you feel like you're controlling a real soccer game on your TV, which in my opinion is the ultimate goal of any sports game.
Gameplay is usually not very demanding in a soccer game. You mostly pass and shoot, but this game has also added strategies for the more advanced player. You can call up certain team strategies while you play or perform more difficult maneuvers such as rainbow kicks. Even if you play in the most basic mode you still have a variety of choices such as lob or through passes or a poke shot versus a hard shot.
Overall, you'll love this game if you're a soccer fan and will still enjoy it even if you like sports games but aren't a big soccer player. Novice players will find it easy to play (scoring goals isn't very hard on amateur level) while experts will like the wealth of options available for them to play with.
Graphics: Simply superb. Photorealism is the next step in this department for many developers.
Sound: Very good. The commentary is enjoyable and the sounds of the game are realistic, although the crowds aren't as strong as they should be.
Enjoyment: Sports fans who aren't into soccer very much should still give this game a whirl.
Replay Value: The title does lag a bit here. While there are classic World Cup matches to unlock, you can't do much else besides play tournaments and friendly exhibitions. You should be able to design your own custom leagues.
People who downloaded FIFA World Cup 98 have also downloaded:
FIFA: Road to World Cup 98, 2002 FIFA World Cup, FIFA 2000, FIFA 99, FIFA Soccer 97, FIFA World Cup: Germany 2006, FIFA Soccer 96, FIFA 2001
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