The most successful series of professional soccer video games returns to Windows-based home computers with refined play and new features. FIFA 2002 offers players greater liberty in passing and tackles while remaining true to gameplay conventions refined over several generations of the title. The new open passing system calls for accuracy but allows much more freedom in ball placement. Similarly, tackles must be properly timed and well aligned for a good steal, as poorly executed moves risk a card from the ref. As in past editions, this release features the real professional players from over 75 teams in 16 different leagues, including the English Premier League, the French LNF, and the United States' MLS. Games are called by veteran commentator John Motson and respected analyst Andy Gray.
FIFA 2002 is the best one yet - far more natural and realistic, and ultimately more entertaining than any of the previous installments. It just amazes me how EA Sports manages to pull it off, year after year, after year...
For those of you who are not into football, or asking themselves why am I talking about football in a soccer review, I say: Roma, Lazio, PSV, River Plata, Sao Paolo! Or simply move to Brazil... Whatever the case, I cannot really lament too much on the entire FIFA series. Let's just say that EA Sports makes hands-down the best sports simulations on the market, so that's really all you need to know.
Each year I say to myself - boy, this one looks even prettier than the last one (all except for FIFA '99), and this year is no exception. The models are far more realistic and except for a silly glaze on their faces (like they've been using skin lotion all day long), FIFA 2002 models are by far the best ones yet. The animated crowds appear much more convincing (they look nothing like the sprited spectators of yester years), and the grass on the pitch looks simply amazing (beautiful grass textures), especially if you're using a more powerful video card. As for the motion-captured moves, it's obsolete to waste any excess superlatives: natural, fluent, and life-like.
But what's really "hip and happening" about this latest FIFA game are the excellent gameplay changes. The controls have been made much simpler. The standard "QWE-ASD" setup is still present, but now, instead of using the CTRL key, which was kind of awkward, special moves are easily accessible by simply hitting the "E" key. The direct pass option is out, and in comes the 1-2 pass! It's amazing how a quick one-two can work wonders for your midfield game. One other welcome addition to the interface are the new passing indicators and sprint trails (a blurry trail shows up when a player is sprinting), as they help to keep the tempo high at all times.
The passing model has gone through some quality changes. You now need to carefully control the direction, and more importantly the power of your pass. You can even play long forward passes, and let your teammate sprint for the ball while avoiding the offside trap. It takes a lot more skill to pass well in FIFA 2002, but that also gives the attacker a lot more options. It grants players more freedom, and consequently more ways of being creative.
The defensive segment of the game has gone through some similar changes. I say similar because it takes skill to defend now, since there are no more semi-automated aggressive tackles. You have to be careful to direct the aggressive tackle at the ball, or else you'll end up being called for a foul, or worst yet, booked or ejected. The foul situations are therefore more apparent, and there is no room for questioning if the defender swiped the ball or the opponent's legs.
FIFA 2002 is all about skill and player's creativity, and that's indeed a quality change over the previous installments, especially if you're into multiplayer matches. Man, FIFA 2002 in multiplayer is loads more fun than FIFA 2001. If you have a chance, be sure to connect a few PC's in a LAN, or hit the net for some quality matches.
In regards to single player, the AI has been made a lot different than in other FIFA games. Yes, the computer is still relying on the long crosses, but now it's also using the short pass game a lot more. It will let you chase the ball with your forwards, while it's passing around in the back, and it will actually build up in the midfield and control the tempo more realistically. The only drawback to these AI changes is the fact that it will sometimes stall the game even though it's a couple of goals behind, which is not something a human player would ever do.
Finally, all your favorite game modes are back: Friendly, League, Custom and 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualification. There are over 75 licensed national teams and 16 licensed leagues including the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spanish Premier League, the French LNF, and Major League Soccer (MLS).
That's about it. AT wholeheartedly recommends you go out and buy this game. The only annoying mishap by the programmers is the "rain bug." The visuals look all messed when you select the rainy conditions. Other than that, there are a few less significant bugs like, baldheaded goalies having hair when you zoom out, and some silly collision detection issues during scoring celebrations.
People who downloaded FIFA Soccer 2002 have also downloaded:
FIFA Football 2003 (a.k.a. FIFA Soccer 2003), FIFA 2000, FIFA 2001, FIFA Soccer 2004 (a.k.a. FIFA Football 2004), FIFA 99, FIFA Soccer 2005, FIFA World Cup 98, FIFA: Road to World Cup 98
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