World Cup 98
Windows - 1998
Description of World Cup 98
Two full versions in six months?
For a couple of years now I have regularly asked myself the question whether or not to buy the new versions of my favorite EA Sports games FIFA Soccer and NHL Hockey. I always thought that only major improvements and changes in game design justified the money for a full game. So far, my buying decisions have been fairly astute. I bought the last three games in the NHL Hockey series, along with FIFA s 96 and Road to World Cup 98, and each game fulfilled the above requirements beautifully. In my opinion, I didn't waste a dime.
But after I received the GDR review copy of World Cup 98, I am happy that I didn't buy this one. Frankly, the minor improvements and enhancements in game design do not offer enough over the game's all-too-recent predecessor to merit doling out your bucks, marks, pesos, or whatever currency you're dealing with. This is a good game, maybe even a great game, but only for those who either didn't buy RTWC 98 or have money to burn.
Patch or new game?
The improvements are all of minor importance, but since there are quite a few of them, WC 98 feels quite different from the RTWC edition. The graphics have been further polished (and are, of course, a tad slower now), the fantasy international stadiums are replaced by well-recreated French stadiums, support for D3D cards has been added out of the box, the play-by-play scripts are a bit more varied, and so on. Most of the important improvements went into the player control, where it really counts. It is easier now to get off headers in the box and shots are much easier to control with an effective after touch. All this strengthens the already formidable realism of the game: whereas in Actua Soccer 2 and World League Soccer, the outcome of your shots seems to rely on a process involving CPU-determined luck, here you really have to practice to improve. There's a nice learning curve here, allowing you to get a real feel for the shooting touch through trial and error and the gradual acquiring of skill.
All these improvements are well done and generally make the game an advancement over its predecessor. I leave it to your discretion to decide whether or not they are worth the money. But all this comes at a price --- there is only World Cup format play available. Which means in short: no league play. No Bundesliga, no Premier League, no Seria A play. Some of this loss is outweighed by the whole 'gee-whiz' factor of being able to stage a World Cup of your very own while the real thing is still playing out in France, but after just a few weeks of play I'll bet that the presence of just the 32 World Cup qualifiers and a few special also-rans (hello, Canada!) will seem really limiting. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people go back to RTWC once the folks in Paris pack that irritating Footix costume away at the end of July.
The included classic world championship games are a nice touch but only in terms of classic rosters because EA left the modern rules unchanged. There really wasn't enough effort put into this. While it is nice to go back and replay some legendary finals, the whole thing just seems like padding in order to cover the lack of teams and gameplay options compared to RTWC. In my opinion these classic games are a nice try but they don't sell the game!
Another point of complaint is the difficulty of WC 98. On Amateur level I win my games regularly 10-0, while on the next step up, Professional, I struggled to earn draws. I'm afraid to point out that there is another skill level above that...
Make no mistake: WC 98 is the best soccer game available for the PC right now. Its gameplay is stronger than in the previous version, it leaves Actua Soccer 2 behind, and beats World League Soccer easily. But there are still things to be done here. Lessons remain to be learned from the competition. Actua offers a good model for improving the in-game commentary. Play-by-play man John Motson is cool, but he still should have more to say. It's time to move ahead with the comments, which are essentially still on the level of FIFA 96. As for World League Soccer, the EA Sports designers should look into the way it handles free kicks. In WLS, you can individually set up the defending wall, which not only adds to the strategy but also injects some reality into the gameplay.
The series could also pick up some pointers from TV soccer coverage. Watch a game of the current World Cup and then try to play it through with WC 98 and you will instantly get the feeling that it's just not the same. One important difference is with the referee. If you happen to be a fan of the Morocco side and have seen the questionable penalty kick awarded to Norway then you know exactly what I am talking about: the amateurish refs have a huge influence on the game. Not that I would want to argue for a player-defined ref, but this problem should be taken seriously.
Another concern that should be addressed is team play. At the moment, you have to control an individual player and hope that the CPU will know where to position the other players. More often than not, though, computer-controlled players will stand around or behave along some basic scripted routine because the CPU simply can't simulate Brazilian solos or German tactical discipline. Of course, such AI problems are the eternal irritant of the sports gamer.
This edition of FIFA reaches the end of the rope of conventional sports game design: the graphics are good enough, the player moves seem realistic and individual, the controls are superior, and the sound effects really establish an atmosphere (fans chanting Italia pronounce it wrong, though!). In terms of team play and the unique styles of different squads, though, even this leader-of-the-pack leaves a lot of room for improvements. All we can hope is that EA (and its competition) takes the time to produce a soccer game for the 1999 season which comes closer to a pure simulation of the gameplay. But for now, WC 98 is a good place to start.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
MEROVINGIAN 2022-02-04 0 point
It works on Windows XP but game is too slow (Even if I choose the game speed fastest) Unfortunately I've uninstalled it.
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