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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: January 1, 1998
Can you feel it yet? It’s very faint, but it’s there. World Cup 98 in France is looming on the horizon. Whether your country is playing or not, you can’t help feeling a little excited if you’re a soccer fan. Every four years it builds to a climax, the ultimate struggle for the right to be called the best in the world. You can call it soccer, or football, or futbol, or whatever you want, but it’s the greatest game in the world and the World Cup is the greatest tournament in the world. EA attempts to put all of that feeling and emotion into the latest version of its soccer game series with FIFA: Road to World Cup 98.
FIFA 98 offers several different modes of play: Friendly, Road to World Cup 98, League Play, Penalty Shootout, and Training. A Friendly is a single match between two teams. Basically, it provides a simple way to play a quick game without bothering with setting up a tournament or league or anything. Training allows you to practice moves, shots, or any portion of your game you think needs help. You can even set up a practice game between offense and defense and vary the amount of players on either side. So, if you want to practice corner kicks or free kicks, you can determine how many attackers and defenders you want and where you want the ball to be placed. If you want to practice your penalty kicks, play Penalty Shootout and try your hand at taking and saving penalty kicks.
If you feel you’re ready to take a shot at the Holy Grail of soccer, play the Road to World Cup 98 mode. Choose from one of 172 national teams around the world. Teams are divided into six zones from which they must qualify for the final round, which includes 32 teams. League Play allows you to compete in one of 11 leagues of 189 professional club teams. All of the national and club teams are authentic, as are the players (except for the club teams in the U.S., which are not the MLS teams). FIFA 98 also comes with 16 international stadiums to compete in.
The game comes with a team management menu that allows you to customize the way your team plays and what strategy it uses during the game. This includes setting your team formation, what areas of the field you want players to cover, and changes in your lineup, including in-game substitutions. You can decide which players you want to take your free kicks and how an individual player attacks the goal or how aggressive he’ll be in trying to win the ball. You can further customize squads for league or Cup play by editing the skills of the players on the team, transferring or trading players to and from your team, and even deciding which players get to represent their national side in Cup competition.
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