FIFA Soccer 2004 Updated Hands-On Impressions

We enjoy a brief kickabout with the latest PS2 version of EA Sports' upcoming soccer sequel at ECTS.

On a recent visit to Electronic Arts' booth at ECTS, we got the chance to play a match on the PS2 version of FIFA Soccer 2004. The version of the game on display at ECTS is between 60- and 70-percent complete, but it already looks very polished for the most part, and it certainly plays like a reasonably good game of soccer.

Before we'd even kicked the ball, FIFA Soccer 2004's visuals looked impressive. Not only did most of the players closely resemble their real-life counterparts, but their accurately re-created strips also feature clearly recognizable club badges and sponsor logos. The stadium itself was, of course, equally impressive, and rather than being a chore, the entrance sequence actually went a long way toward creating the feeling that we were about to play in a major real-life match.

It quickly became obvious to us that the emphasis in FIFA Soccer 2004 is firmly on being able to pass the ball between players rather than on being able to make mazy runs from one end of the pitch to the other. Beating the opposing team's keeper didn't prove too difficult for the most part, but getting into a scoring position in the first place was definitely a challenge. The CPU players are intelligent enough to intercept all but the most well-placed passes, and it's reassuring that it's not terribly difficult to do the same thing right back to them.

It's unfortunate that we didn't get to spend more time with FIFA Soccer 2004 at ECTS, especially as a number of new features have been announced for the game. Expect more coverage of FIFA Soccer 2004 as its October 29 release date draws closer.

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