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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: May 5, 2000
I grew up in a time and place where football was a sport played by the biggest, meanest and nastiest kids in the neighborhood. This is a game where crossing the goal line means six points and tackling is an integral part of every play. Football in south central Texas was a sport dominated by quarterbacks, wide receivers and tailbacks, and one where kickers were considered pansies. You went to war over the right to play with pig’s skin, and you used pads and helmets just to stay alive. Today however, most of the world thinks of football as something entirely different, and to be honest it’s been an education for this kid from mojo country. Football, or soccer as I call it, is a game where kicking and heading the ball is the primary means for play, and is the method for scoring points and winning the contest. EA Sports has actually been promoting the sport via their FIFA franchise for years, starting out with strong showings on console systems in the early nineties. And as the popularity of soccer has increased, gaining support from Major League Soccer (MLS) and the World Cup, more and more video gamers are clamoring for “real” professional teams, more realism and higher quality immersion, bringing their sport inline with the likes of basketball, hockey, American football and especially baseball, which has ruled the digital sports arena for decades.
As with any product that’s the latest in a long running series, the evaluation of this year’s version against that of its immediate predecessor is of utmost importance. EA Sports has heard the cries for licensed teams and players, and FIFA 2000 is the first of its kind to offer the MLS — Major League Soccer license with all its teams and players. FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer gives players the opportunity to manage and control any of the twelve teams of MLS. Not only are teams like the DC United, San Jose Clash and Chicago Fire included, but so are fifteen leagues from around the world. FIFA 2000 gives players controlling one of the MLS teams the opportunity to be crowned champion of the world. The EA Sports machine has produced a fair amount of hype around the premise of “MLS versus the world,” and for many reasons the ploy works beautifully; here’s why. The addition of MLS to the game expands its audience one hundred fold.
The fan base around the globe, like those interested in hockey, are not entirely sold on the fact that MLS encompasses the best soccer players the world has to offer. Included in FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer are team and individual player rankings that determine the power factor and strength of all teams, thus allowing for matches, such as the Brazilian world team against DC United. It’s great drama and allows players, regardless of their opinion, the venue to exercise their belief. From a gameplay aspect, FIFA 2000 gives gamers four modes to choose from — exhibition, tournament, season, and training. The training mode gives you a chance to become familiar with gameplay and your controller configuration. The title is compatible with many different gamepads and joysticks, and offers preset configurations for some of the most common such as Microsoft’s Sidewinder gamepad, Gravis grip, Gravis gamepad and gamepad pro. If you don’t have any of those you can always use the old standard, your keyboard, but expect some frustration with control and execution when doing so.
In training mode you can practice penalty kicks, free kicks, corner kicks, throw-ins, and even play training games. It pays off to have one of the aforementioned gamepads, as control over players using one of them is precise. They’ve really stepped up the control, and while the interface remains largely intact from last year, there’s lessons learned and choosing not to re-invent the wheel is a good thing here. Training games will help you learn about your team’s characteristics. Knowledge of the individual players, their strengths and weaknesses will help your team succeed, especially since EA has modeled so much of the physics around the player ratings. It’s a good feature, as it allows those gamers not entirely familiar with the finer points of the sport a chance to learn the fundamentals.
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