Windows - 1998
Description of FIFA 99
That's twice a year
Soccer fans were glued to their seats in 1998 -- and with good reason. The world championships saw a distressing decline in the number of exciting matches (were 32 teams really too many?), while we also welcomed a newcomer to the world champions club. EA Sports , however, made sure we were all enjoying ourselves in front of the computer instead of watching Italy on the telly, by releasing two FIFA games instead of the usual one. The fact that this meant one had to pay the full price just to get an upgrade for an existing game, I am sure, only made EA happier. I personally believe this ploy would not have been accepted so easily had the games not been very, very good indeed.
I reviewed FIFA Road To World Cup 98 last fall, and gave it the only gold award I ever have. I resisted buying World Cup 98 with all the willpower I could muster, after having played it a couple of times and deciding that it was simply not worth it when I already had the first one. And I waited with bated breath to see FIFA 99. It seemed impossible that EA could make something that would actually be so much better as to justify a full release.
But they did.
As far as packaging goes, FIFA 99 follows the well-known adage: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." EA Sports games simply look the same on the outside year in, year out. The same white box and the same less than informative manual. That last bit is important. Sure, you can find all possible key combinations listed -- if you can understand them -- but quite a bit is not mentioned at all. Take in-game visual clues, for example. Can anyone tell me the exact meaning of that tiny 'blackboard' black box that appears on the lower left of the screen sometimes? I tend to believe it means advantage was given, but hey, my guess is as good as yours. In any case, anyone who has played an EA Sportsgame from the last two years will feel right at home.
The game occupies 130mb of your drive, if you choose your options well, and requires a minimum of 20mb. As far as game options go, we have all the usual goodies -- lots (and I mean LOTS -- over 200) of teams, both domestic and international squads, season and cup play, a team and player editor, multiplayer modes galore, and no way to configure the controls (What's wrong with you, EA Sports? Why can't we reconfigure the pad buttons? Pretty please, for next time?). Training matches now have defensive objectives, 3D card support is good, and the opening is sub- FIFA98 -standard, which is no surprise since that one was simply out of this world. Perhaps the most interesting improvement in the features section are the IGM (In-Game Management) and IGT (In-Game Tactics) options. The former allows you to switch between preset formations on the fly, while the latter lets you execute nifty maneuvers such as offside trap, again on the fly. That latter bit adds some more depth to an already amazingly rich game, and once you get used to it, it can come in handy.
The one thing that I was really wondering about before I got FIFA 99 for review was the presentation issue. The only real problem with its predecessor in this regard was the unsynchronized commentary, but otherwise I simply could not envision EA managing to make the same leap in technological warfare as they did previously; FIFA 98 was simply too beautiful.
I was shocked to find out that, indeed, they managed this yet again. FIFA 99 's graphics and sound are just as big a leap from FIFA 98 as the latter was from FIFA 97. They fixed the commentary issue, but that is the least important of the improvements. You now get players following the ball when it's flying above their heads, mouth movements in close-ups, much more accuracy and fluidity in player movements, and so many other small but significant improvements that I could spend the whole review just talking about them. I will take care to mention only three: close-ups now happen not only after goals or during a foul, but also after really big misses when the player who messed up may grab his head in frustration; the ref is much more animated now, and the full effect during fouls is so good that it is tempting to make harsh fouls just to see what would happen; and EAtook care to remove those stupid animations during deadballs. Also, the free kick arrows are much easier to understand now, and players are scaled better (although the ball is ever so slightly too big).
As far as sound effects go, it seems like crowd chants now happen during more realistic moments in play, but otherwise, the game keeps the very high standard of its predecessor. More typically British humor has been added to the generally superb commentary (Motson and Lynham lead the commentator team again, and that's all we need to know) as well. One last important issue is that of player heights, which are now reflected graphically and have an actual effect on their game.
The above really only scratches the surface as far as how beautiful FIFA 99 truly is. If any sports game can be called a work of art, then this is the one. The next step would be...the next step is...well, I really have no idea what the next step could be for this series. I guess I will simply have to wait and see.
Let's play ball!
Presentation values aside, the most important bit in any title is gameplay. Remember FIFA 97? A treat for the senses, at the time, but impossible to play. It took EA another year to find the secret formula that made FIFA 98 such an enjoyable experience.
FIFA 99 gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is the best soccer game I have ever played apart from on a real pitch. No doubt about it. It is highly enjoyable, extremely well balanced, and I have yet to find such faults with it that will allow one to score sure goals. There was such a problem in FIFA 98 -- one could run towards the corner of the five-meter box, and when the keeper would just begin to come out you could shoot for a certain goal. No such thing here. I have seen only one goal that was slightly suspect in terms of engine faults. That is, even though some goals are obviously the result of problems with the game engine, such as poor defense AI, they never feel that way. In short, all goals I saw scored in FIFA 99 up to this point (and I've watched few hundred of them already) could have been scored in a real soccer match. This is a highly important issue for any sports game, because 'artificial' goals would easily ruin the illusion of playing the real sport.
On the other hand, this game is less of a simulation than its prequel. Not that the latter was anything more than a slowed down arcade game, but it still felt more like real soccer. FIFA 99 's arcade nature, however, is more evident. The game is quick -- not as quick as, say, the lightning-like Actua Soccer series, but fast enough to keep you constantly on the edge. Relaxed dribbles, are few and far between. Tackles are more effective now, and unless you use the various special maneuvers and time them correctly, they are impossible to avoid. In fact, dribbles are no longer a viable choice. You now have to master the pass, in all its varieties, in order to succeed. Short and long lobs and whatever else, must be learned. What's more, you have to get them off in rapid succession. This of course requires good reflexes, a good eye, and an ability to understand the finer points of the engine so as to anticipate the placement of players outside the view area.
Headers are overall much easier to control and therefore much more effective, and chest traps have been improved considerably. In fact, the control system has been tweaked, and the players are now considerably easier to handle once you remember all the different combinations. The visual interface is also improved, with white crosshairs pointing to the player who will receive the next pass (I would like to know what a dark brown marker means, though, as it is not explained in the manual). The ball may still go through the net sometimes, although this happens more rarely than before, and free kicks are easier to control since the kick arrow can now be moved after the shot button is already being held. Two major improvements in gameplay are both related to the fact that after-touch is far more effective now. Most importantly, you can direct your shots much more easily and, contrary to FIFA 98, apply some serious curve can to some balls. Another major improvement is the fact that you can now interrupt a move while it is being performed, eliminating one of the most annoying aspect of FIFA 98 and allowing far better control over your player. Oh, and you can actually stop a ball near the sidelines too.
The most interesting conclusion I've made about FIFA 99 is this: the game is now better in multiplayer mode but slightly worse in single-player mode. In multiplayer, everything works perfectly, with the human touch adding that extra bit to game balance. The teams are affected by the player's decisions, and the engine is good enough that it never feels intrusive. Whoever plays the best wins. Single player, however, is different. Amateur mode is useless, as always. Professional is now a good middle ground, since it is challenging but not too much so, and I personally prefer this level to the other two. The problem is with world-class level play. It is here where FIFA 99 becomes more a game of pinball than anything else. It is practically impossible to hold a ball for more than a second, or two at best, and once you are in the computer's half, even this is too much. The short pass button is constantly employed, and after a while this gets a little boring. The reason for all this is that the engine is now good enough to nullify the human factor by having the advantage of split-second decisions. Add to that the over-effectiveness of tackles, needed for improved game balance, and you will get into a "get rid of the ball" frenzy pretty quickly. I'm not sure if anything could be done about this, but the overall result is that playing world-class sends the game back into the arcade realm, and becomes less enjoyable after a while. In any case, professional level is now a very good choice, since it is now harder and yet, in many senses, restrained. This should be the choice of FIFA 98 veterans. One last note is that the computer almost never uses the long ball or lob, preferring the short pass instead.
One last issue I would like to mention is keeper control and the AI. You can now control your keeper, even to the point of initiating a goalie rush during play. But, more importantly, keeper AI is greatly improved. They are now much more aggressive and can finally be termed effective -- and realistic. They will close down your shooting angle, charge when they should, and tip the ball much more often than before. They will even go away from the goal line to catch high balls, something so sorely missing in FIFA 98. As far as gameplay goes, this area is improved the most, and keepers are finally up to par with the rest of the game. Kudos.
Before I go into my conclusions, I would like to say a few words about the issue of FIFA 99 's release. EA Sports promised us 20 stadiums to play in, and a superficial look will confirm this, as game intros are different for each stadium present. The games themselves, however, take place in a smaller number of actual stadiums -- 11, to be exact (although some people in the newsgroups claim to have seen only five or six). A lot of people complained about this, and on the face of it, it seems like EA may have screwed up.
Personally, I couldn't care less. There is enough variety in the game as it is, and a few more stadiums would add nothing to the experience. As it is, the FIFA line isn't that hot on stadium details anyway -- no crowd animations (disregarding the two pixel rows of FIFA 98, which were a laugh at best), no changing banners or flags or Mexican waves or whatever. In fact, the games are so demanding when it comes to gameplay, that I cannot see where one would have time to appreciate the finer points of stadium architecture. So as far as I'm concerned, this detracts nothing from the game. However, be warned. You won't have 20 stadiums to play in. And yes, I still think that EA should issue a formal apology regarding this.
There is no denying it. FIFA 99 is the best computer soccer game on the planet. I cannot see where it could be seriously improved for next year, but I also did not foresee how this one would improve over FIFA 98. If you like soccer, then you must have this game, and even if you only have a remote interest, you should seriously consider buying it. FIFA 99 is beautiful, sounds amazing, plays perfectly, is highly addictive and extremely well balanced. It is truly in a league of its own.
Note: As you've probably noticed, this review used the term "soccer" throughout. Using "football" would have made things awkward for American readers, whereas "soccer" is understood everywhere. However, the reviewer is NOT from the US.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
GBhoy89 2021-08-18 0 point
This is very frustrating. The game opens fine, except I'm locked to 640x480 (I can tolerate that, at least) and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to use a gamepad/controller.
WSGF states that it can be played easily with an Xbox 360 controller, but I have found no option or settings menu to enable it.
The comments section here is equally as frustrating. Nobody is coming in with any answers to these problems.
Google is giving me next to nothing.
I have seen people playing this game in fullscreen with controller support with no answer on how they achieved it.
Also, for the record, the downloads in this page did not work on my computer -- I had to find an alternative installer to have it run on 64-bit platforms. None of this is mentioned nor addressed in the instructions below.
Sid 2021-05-15 1 point
Unable to download, asking for CD ROM. Help, please. I tried to run with Install, autorun, and setup.. nothing helped
trixy 2020-03-30 0 point
game not ******* opening
help on win 7
says setup not in game directory
Jlnhlfan 2019-11-25 2 points
Windows 10 keeps telling me that the game is not installed when I follow a guide on a workaround, which involves making a .reg file that doesn't work.
adrian 2019-09-21 -1 point
esse jogo e muito bom e essa versao tem times boms tipo cruzeiro na versao antiga nao tinha ele
Andy Wong 2019-06-10 -9 points
How to install the game on window 10
this game is my childhood memory and the time that bring me to the soccer world.
A lot of football star that i miss that so much...please help
Juim 2019-03-11 1 point
Good for a nostalgia trip. Can't change controls, does crash occasionally and there wasn't any music - which was one of the best bits. Running on Windows 10.
A classic game and a good upload.
Just a sad boy 2018-08-09 1 point
Hey man, any instructions on running this? I had some issues with the installation. Any recommendation?
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