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A free-to-play multiplayer side-scrolling shooter, where you use weapons and items in endless PvE modes, against your friends in PvP modes, or in a quick game of soccer using the unique game mechanics!
One problem with the previous FIFA games for Stateside buyers has been the almost laughable treatment of U.S. professional soccer. Lacking a license, FIFA 99 simply chose some American cities (without regard for whether they had MLS franchises, A-League franchises, or none at all), put them in a league, and filled the rosters with made-up players that all had below-average attributes. This year, for the first time, EA has obtained the license of Major League Soccer (the United States' first division) and has produced a game specifically for the U.S. market which includes actual MLS clubs rather than the fictitious garbage foisted upon purchasers of previous games in the series. Entitled FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer, the game box depicts D.C. United's U.S. international Eddie Pope and bears the boot-and-ball logo of MLS. The game differs from the European release in its title and in-game commentary, but otherwise it's the same game.
Well, in a sense. Except that this exact feature has already been provided courtesy of EA's "other" soccer release, F.A. Premier League Stars. In fact, an awful lot of things that were done in Stars could have been done here but weren't, which leaves import-crazy saddos like myself to wonder why EAseems to be developing a parallel arcade footy game with different features, some of which are superior to those in FIFA 99. One such feature is the depiction of league kits. The Premiership kits in Stars are much more detailed than those in FIFA 2000. This is partially a function of the graphics engine in Stars, which seems to be more detailed at some levels than the one in FIFA 2000. Okay, the faces in FIFA might be better, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that the game's graphics are much better overall than those in Stars. The players tend to have different builds: the ones in FIFA look more like Kanu whereas those in Stars are shaped a lot like Gazza. In short, if you've played Stars, the look of FIFA 2000 won't knock you off your seat.
Also puzzling is the crowd noise. The applause sounds a heck of a lot more like the audience at Covent Garden applauding the concertmaster when he precedes the conductor onto the stage than it does the crowd at Old Trafford screaming hysterically as Alan Shearer converts Sol Campbell's bizarre handball into a place for Newcastle in the F.A. Cup Final. What's worse, the crowd often loudly boos the referee for failing to award a free kick for a hard tackle, even if the offender is on the home side! And all of this after EA producer Kerry Whelan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that crowd noises were one of the specific game areas under development. "If you just scored your 19th goal against Lichtenstein [sic], the crowd isn't going to be very excited,"Whelan says. Gee, that's great. So what will they get excited about? Chelsea's injury-time winner at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal? Yes? Then why do they sound like they're applauding the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields? Neville Marriner doesn't play soccer.
If the audio serves to detract from the game's portrayal of soccer, the video does the opposite. The subtle improvements from FIFA 99 add up to a game which resembles actual soccer action much more than its predecessors. First, the players' body movements are far more convincing. Players shoulder charge, shield the ball with their bodies, and hold off defenders with their arms as they try to fend off challenges. You can even control a player's arm shielding, and as you try and touch the ball past an opposing player the game acts very much like an actual soccer game. In addition, while you shield the ball, your skill move options are different from when you are in free space. What the player faces do for the close-ups, the player movements do for the gameplay.
Furthermore, the tactical behavior of the players is much more realistic. Goalkeepers come out of the box to clear balls that have gotten behind the last defender. They also punch away free kicks believably. Passes are also more varied, and I have seen some nice backheels which left me applauding the EA animation crew. The soccer ball also acts more like it should: it deflects off of other players in a very realistic manner, and I have had shots deflected away for corners or passes knocked over to different players because the game accurately modeled the collisions. This part of the game is steadily improving, and is finally starting to really look authentic.
In the end, while the gameplay at the highest level is very challenging, and while the Professional level does allow for some passing and space, the fact is that it simply isn't soccer. You'll never chip the keeper from thirty yards, all your goals will be scored inside the box, and your defenders will never step up to deliver a telling header off a corner. You won't have your centre-forward take the ball with his back to the goal, move away from the box, and turn to deliver a perfect pass releasing his overlapping right midfielder. As our Strategy Editor, footy expert, and Plymouth Argyle supporter Tim Chown once said, "If you think FIFA gameplay looks like real soccer, I feel sorry for you." That said, the game does a nice job of creating the illusion of soccer. This is where the new animations are so nice. Despite all the too-perfect passes and back-and-forth running, the body movements now remind you that this is still the "beautiful game."
The second problem is with the club rosters. Many of them are just plain wrong. For example, when I went to set the lineup for my own Chicago Fire, I was puzzled by the defensive alignment: C.J. Brown, Francis Okaroh, and ... Luboš Kubik? He wasn't there. Not even as a sub. Simply missing. Yes, 1998 MLS Defender of the Year, Czech Republic defender Luboš Kubik. Luboš "56 caps/12 goals" Kubik. "The Cannon." Imagine searching the Spurs squad and finding that instead of Sol Campbell, your teamsheet only had Justin Edinburgh anchoring your defense. Another glaring error is the omission of the New England Revolution's starting goalkeeper and manager, 1990 Italian World Cup hero Walter Zenga. Sure, Zenga was released by the club in September as the team's playoff hopes faded, but this doesn't explain why so many other players who had left their clubs long before Zenga did are still there. Manny Lagos and Ritchie Kotschau, traded by the Fire to Tampa Bay for Sam George and Paul Dougherty during the summer, are still part of the Fire starting XI, as is Josh Keller, who doesn't even belong in the league anymore. In fact, if you want to play your favorite MLS club, the odds are you'll have to do some heavy editing before you're able to field any kind of realistic side. The game does have an editor which gives you the ability to edit player names, positions, and appearances, so those with more patience than I can eventually set things right. I'll be looking for custom files on download sites, thank you.
Another inexplicable decision has to do with match commentary. For some reason, EA has chosen to have all the commentary (and I mean all of it) done by ESPN's Phil Schoen and Julie Foudy. Now, I readily admit that when it comes to soccer announcers, there are really no good American ones, just like there doesn't seem to be any good MLS referees. However, the choice of Phil Schoen is almost an insult to those of us who have ears. While not quite as bad as Ty Keough, Schoen is typical of the American style of commentary where players' personalities or lives are discussed more than the game itself. I think this has to do with the nature of football and baseball, where five seconds of action are followed by five minutes of doing nothing and announcers have to fill the space with stuff no one cares about anyway. During a soccer match, of course, this isn't necessary. Nevertheless, I have heard American announcers feel the need to finish their sentences about a player's exploits as a windsurfer or something while he was scoring a goal. This doesn't happen in FIFA 2000, but associations are not easily broken, and I have a feeling many American soccer viewers will cringe at the sound of a voice they would prefer not to have to hear while playing a computer game. Foudy is better, but the whole thing sounds rather incongruous. (I wonder if the inclusion of Foudy was some sort of attempt to carry the overmarketing of the Women's World Cup as far as possible, since her commentary is advertised on the box with a picture and only a single mention of Phil Schoen, even though Schoen does the majority of the speaking.) Furthermore, a lot of the phrases seem to be identical to the ones in FIFA 99, except that now they're spoken by Schoen and Foudy instead of Lawrenson, Gray, and Waddle. This is almost acceptable for MLS matches. After all, I hear it on television, so I'm used to it. But to have a Newcastle-Sunderland derby narrated by these two? Simply surreal. It would be like having Des Lynam announce the Super Bowl. Not much creativity on the part of EA there, and more evidence that the MLS part of the game was hastily thrown together.
Lastly, there are the stadiums. There isn't even a pretense of modeling these, and games are played instead in stadiums which have no relation to the fields they are representing. What's funny about this is that since all the clubs play in American football stadiums except for the Columbus Crew, EA has modeled all these venues in the Madden series. In fact, EA could have taken a jab at MLS by "realistically" depicting the actual pitches and covering the grass with white football markings during September and October (since the fields are shared, often on consecutive days), with the soccer lines drawn in yellow. And stadiums could have been depicted with tens of thousands of empty seats, rather than the 60,000 per match shown in the game. But I'm glad that EA didn't make the game that realistic. 041b061a72