gaming since 1997

FIFA Football 2003

Most of you, the fragland visitors, won’t even read this review because everyone knows the deal with the fifa games. Each year around October a newer version comes out and every 2 years there is a special edition around the summer covering the world or euro cup.

So I’m not going to bore you with every detail there is to know, just the things that changed in the good or bad way. For a comparison I took my review of fifa2002.

Well, I’m going to be honest, last year I thought the ps2 game This is Football got the upper hand in graphics for a few years. They had realistic faces and stadiums, fifa2002 had the motion capture but the faces looked like plastic puppets and the crowd was silly moving bitmaps. This year TiF2003 added the really nice motion capture and improved the faces so no one gave a euro for fifa2003 but it must be said, they did a nice dribble on TiF2003 because what you get to see really is amazing.

Faces aren’t photorealistic but damn close. I like this better than the faces in TiF2003, real nice 3D build ones and no faces that look like wrapped photos. The stadiums are impressive and add up to the atmosphere although the crowds are still moving bitmaps. Motion capturing is still top notch and has no equal.

The commentary still sucks, it’s still Motson and McCoist who are covering matches and bore you to death with the same remarks every 5 minutes. I’m not saying there is no improvement but it’s still far from what it should be. The other sounds FX are nice. Everything sounds the way it should; only one small remark is the cheering. When you score a goal at home the crowd goes nuts and you hear them cheer the club’s name but when you score an away goal, you just here the normal noise and a few people yelling. Maybe this is to create the home advantage or something, but it sounds a bit dumb.

This is the part the last few editions lacked improvement the most. Some bugs just survived 2 or 3 editions. In ’99 the corner bug was ”introduced”; when the computer took a corner they scored 9/10. This bug survived the 2000 release but was resolved in the 2001 release. Last year the bug reappeared for crying out loud but this year it’s gone again.

There are a number of gameplay improvements this year and it must be said, it was goddamn time. First of all, the game finally resembles real soccer this year. Passing, shooting, tackling, etc. it all looks and feels like it should. Secondly, when you sprint with a ball it’s harder to control and sometimes you see a player, which has lower skill points, struggle to keep the ball.

Another good point is the depth passing, it takes some practice, but after a while you can make the difference with one of those actions. You press a button that makes another player sprint into depth and then you press another to give him a pass. Sounds easy but it isn’t quite. First you have to time it into perfection or you see the ball miss him by a painful centimeter and another difficulty is that you have to aim it, not accurate to the centimeter but it has to be close or else the ball goes another direct making the run useless.

Difficulty levels are good. Amateur is easy but not too easy in the beginning. Semi pro is still easy but you have to really make the goal, not just shoot a lot. Pro is pretty hard because the opponent covers the ball better and gives cutting passes. And finally World class is very very hard, but not impossible like in previous editions. Just play the ball round long enough to find that little hole in the defence.

The last good improvement is the team play. Players seem to know when you pass them and they try to catch up with the ball when you give a bad pass. They also help when you try to steal the ball and sometimes run into depth on their own. So the team aspect is covered. The only remark is that you tend to hit your teammates a lot or the wrong teammate intercepts the pass.

Too bad there are some down points to the gameplay as well. I know they tried to make it harder to score a goal to avoid those goals that you never see in a real match. This adds to the gameplay but in some occasions it’s so frustrating because you are right in front of the goal and still manage to miss the target. This happens a bit too much in my opinion. Another point of criticism is the keepers; they are perfect except on one little point; they still tend to suddenly warp into you feet. When you shoot the ball and the keeper blocks it but is on the ground, a millisecond later he has the ball after a miraculous tigerjump before you can even push the shoot button.

A last point is the shooting itself, it still takes too long for a player to shoot the ball. When you press the shoot button while running he will always get his shooting foot into position. That’s realistic, but when you have to be quick about it he still changes foot first if the target is still too far away. So if you do a run to the backline, pass behind to a free player for and expect him to shoot on the fly, you will be disappointed nine out of ten times.

This year’s fifa is a game that is also suitable for the non fifa fans. Honestly the best soccer game I’ve played in years and better than TiF2003 in my opinion. I hope the next fifa reaches perfection.

Our Score:
related game: FIFA 2003
posted in: Electronic Arts, PC, Reviews
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