knows, the Gameboy Advance should be a goldmine for Electronic Arts.
The Nintendo handheld is often seen as a 16-bit system on steroids,
which often means many ports from the Super NES and Genesis. Goodness
knows, I have no idea why some of these titles have been ported
over at all, aside from the bona-fide classics, but this situation
is perfect for EA. These were, after all, the years of their legendary
sports franchises; starting with Madden, they managed to
perfectly capture every sport they tried, setting the gold standard
for the sports videogame.
software developers still struggle to create with modern 3D polygons
what EA achieved effortlessly is amazing. I would still argue that
the NHL Hockey series on the Genesis was as good as anything
today, and the Madden's and FIFA's have only aged
marginally. For the Advance, portable versions of these games still
work. I still enjoy the new Madden as much as the old Genesis
classics, and NHL Hockey 2002 is almost worth the price
of an Advance alone.
puzzled at FIFA, though. This should be a standout title;
obviously, the effort has been made to modernize the game instead
of merely porting an old copy of FIFA '95. And, yet, somehow,
it doesn't quite work. It's almost as though the final game was
rushed out the door before it was properly finished. This isn't
even the usual comparison against Konami's brilliant soccer games;
even though, again, there's a better version of International
Superstar Soccer waiting nearby.
are some things I like, starting with the field. The old angled
viewpoint is thankfully retired in favor of a standard side-scrolling
view. The players are large and distinct, and even move fairly well,
even if it's more than a little limited. And there are an obscene
number of teams to choose from, with more leagues and names than
most Americans like me have ever heard of.
best quality of this FIFA is its fast-paced, arcade-style
play. This is one of those games that you can pick up and run with
almost immediately, and EA should be thanked for that. The limited
number of buttons on the Advance is no doubt a factor; there is
only so much you can do with four buttons, so only the basic moves
are included. I'm fine with that, as long as the game on the field
moves swift and smooth. You can probably play a full match in five
or ten minutes, passing and scoring with ease.
just wish some more effort was put into the making of this game.
For instance, take the players on the field. As I've already noted,
they look fine and move well, but the animation is pretty much limited
to running. There's not much interaction between two players fighting
for control of the ball, or passing, or pretty much anything. And
the team uniforms are usually two colors, one of which is always
white. And there is only one stadium to play in, with the same grass
patterns and crowd chants. What's the point of this? The cynic in
me suspects that FIFA has fallen victim to the dreaded Franchise
Curse, where the first installment has only the bare essentials,
and too many important features are left on the shelf for next year's
course, I enjoy this game for short bursts, but after awhile, I
become aware of something that turns me off to the whole experience
completely. Put simply, the computer is stupid. As dumb as a bag
of rocks. Want to score? Just take control of the ball, and then
sprint to the end of the field, wait for the goalie to run towards
you, and shoot the ball in. There's a little weaving around defenders,
but it's more like a glorified obstacle course; there's no real
defense going on here.
Intelligence simply doesn't exist here, at least not compared to
any sports games over the last decade. When you have the ball, your
teammates all run forward, in unison. When the other team has the
ball, they all retreat, in unison. There's no attempt on the computer's
part to defend or capture the ball. They just return to their original
starting points, and then just stop. It's downright insulting to
watch a defender charge an opposing net while three defenders stand
by, twiddling their virtual fingers. And it's even more insulting
knowing that it was Electronic Arts that did away with this primitive
practice in the 16-bit era.
we're back to the Intellivision age, where you do all the heavy
lifting. Playing, I get flashbacks to Football on the Atari
2600, where you move the entire team as one unit. That game was
made in 1977.
no excuse for this. I don't want to wait a full year to see if the
developers put in the features that should never have been missing
in the first place. What happened here?