FIFA 2001 marks the end of four years of EA Sports' international soccer games on the PlayStation. As the last Station installment in the annually updated and refined soccer series, FIFA 2001 should logically be the best game to date. However, a lack of any significant refinement or incremental upgrades and graphics that haven't stood the test of time make FIFA 2001 a pale upgrade to last year's FIFA title.
There haven't been any significant gameplay changes from FIFA 2000. This year's game has all the same gameplay modes from last year, but no new modes. You'll be able to play a quick exhibition game or take your favorite team through an entire season. In the season mode, you'll have the opportunity to act as your franchise's manager, with the ability to trade, cut and draft new players, and customize your starting lines and play strategies. The game also allows you to set up and play through standard soccer tournaments, as well as create your own cup and play for it. The game also sports a practice mode, where you can brush up your FIFA skills through various training scenarios. The create-a-player and create-a-team modes are still present in this year's game, though they are difficult to find because of the game's clunky interface.
FIFA 2001 plays exactly the same as FIFA 2000. The game appears to run on exactly the same engine as FIFA 2000, and it really doesn't boast any new control or gameplay elements. The controller setup and in-game management system hasn't changed any since last year. From the passing system to the penalty kicks, nothing has changed this year.
The graphics don't look any better than those in last year's game, and in some cases, they even look a tad bit worse. When seen up close, the player models really look clunky and lack detail, and the character faces look particularly subpar. The animations are a bit choppy and don't flow well, and the player actions look a bit out of place at times. Additionally, the goal celebration sequences don't look as good as they did last year, and most of the little graphical touches that made FIFA 2000 such a visually impressive PlayStation game are either gone or not as impressive this time around.
If there's one area that FIFA traditionally excels in, it's the game's sound. The game has a history of licensing top-notch musical selections to back its menus and loading screens, and this year is no different. From Moby's Bodyrock to the Utah Saints' Power to the Beats, FIFA 2001 has a soundtrack plump with some of the best licensed music in any game. FIFA 2001 takes the game's commentary back to the series' roots by kicking out last year's Shoen and Foudy and bringing back fan favorite John Motson. This year Motson is joined by the controversial BBC commentator and football veteran Mark Lawrenson, who provides his own brand of color commentary. Unfortunately, neither Motson nor Lawrenson have anything particularly useful or unique to say, and most of the time they end up rattling off ridiculous quips after a goal or a save. Also, it doesn't appear that either commentator recorded many lines for FIFA 2001, as Motson repeats himself fairly often, and Lawrenson almost never talks. Still, the excellent music and well done sound effects help keep the focus off the mediocre commentary.
Though FIFA 2001 is a solid enough game in its own right, the game's lack of innovation or significant upgrades keeps it from having the same impact as FIFA 2000. It's obvious that EA Sports spent most of its resources on the PlayStation 2 version of this game, as FIFA 2001 on the PlayStation looks and plays like a tired rehash of a now technologically inferior game. PS2 owners should definitely buy the PS2 version of this game, and PlayStation owners should consider finding a copy of FIFA 2000 instead.