great soccer game that is easy to learn

User Rating: 8.4 | FIFA 2002: Road to FIFA World Cup GC
For sports games I usually try playing them before reading the manual, to try and determine how easy they are to pick up for new players. Thankfully FIFA passed this initial test. The controls are simple, straight-forward and easy to learn. Other then the obvious buttons for shooting and passing, EA has taken advantage of the GC controller quite well. By tapping the C-stick you can do one touch and thru-passes. So the whole process is simplified. You will still need to be able to time these types of moves however. There are some more advanced moves that can be used when playing such as bicycle kicks and headers. Once you master the timing and use of these plays you can really start to pull off some great goals and movement on the field. Despite having an excellent controller setup as is, EA has seemingly forgot an important aspect. The game lacks a way to change or modify your control for the game. In other words you can't modify what buttons do what and you are stuck with what EA felt was best, like it or not.

Overall this incarnation of the FIFA series is the best to date. When playing the game you can get a real sense of a soccer match, something the FIFA franchise sort of lacked in the past. Moving the ball up and down the field is fluid for the most part and much improved. This is due in part to FIFA’s new passing method which relies entirely on the player. By using the A button you “charge” the strength of your kick and simply point in the direction you wish to pass on the analog stick. Where you want to pass is made easier by dots on the field that indicate where your player is running. The AI in the game is fairly helpful in obtaining proper plays and will not leave you feeling like the computer is refusing to help you.

Unfortunately the game play also has some downfalls and weaknesses. When you use a lob pass, you cannot move the person you are passing to until the ball touches the player or the ground. This basically means you have no control over the player receiving the ball and are easily intercepted by the defense if the person you are passing to is not wide open. It is truly an annoying aspect of the game. Another weakness is the defensive AI at times. On several occasions the computer controlling a defensive character chose to run away from the ball during an offensive attack. What’s up with that? It is another very annoying problem. The worst part is you don’t know when the computer will decide to do this, so you can’t trust your defense and you must take control almost always.

The final obvious error with FIFA’s game play is the lack of being able to change your formation during the middle of the game. You can change it by pausing the game, but doing so not only disrupts the game play, but also tells your opponent(s) exactly what you are doing. For one I don’t want the people I’m playing knowing what I’m doing, and second I sure as heck don’t want to be pausing the game to do so. If I wanted to take a break while playing I would have played a football game. (American Style)