Revival : for the third time in a year, Electronic Arts has released a soccer title for Nintendo 64. Unlike American football, baseball, and basketball, soccer is a sport that enjoys rabid worldwide popularity.
EA knows that it is crucial for international sales that it deliver a killer N64 simulation of the world’s most popular sport. And with World Cup 98, it has finally succeeded.
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World Cup 98 is essentially an improved version of FIFA
Road to World Cup (not to be confused with the grossly disappointing FIFA 64).
With the real- life World Cup competition in full swing, EA has wisely chosen to refine and re-publish the already excellent Road to World Cup.
World Cup 98 takes the same essential elements of its predecessor and modifies them to reflect the specifics of the competition in France. The game thus contains the official World Cup license, the necessary team licenses, and authentic French stadiums.
In an unfortunate oversight, there is no opportunity to riot. Perhaps EA will include English hooligans in the sequel.
World Cup 98 maintains the striking medium-resolutiongraphics of its predecessor. In terms of clarity, the game falls short of high-res games like All-Star Baseball ’99, but is far superior to low-resolution blurball titles like FIFA 64 and In The Zone 98.
While the medium-resolution visuals are crisp, they come at some gameplay cost. While World Cup 98 plays smoother and faster than earlier EA soccer entries, the game nevertheless displays a sometimes choppy frame rate. It never seriously affects gameplay, but it does hinder the visual flow of the action.
EA has added a number of excellent player animations in World Cup 98.
As with all EA Sports titles, the emphasis in here is upon realism. These players jog, run, jump, and fall with outstanding motion-captured movement. There are some great cinematic scenes that punctuate the ongoing action. EA is arguably the best in the business at motion captured animation, and World Cup 98 does not disappoint.
The default camera angle is functional, though somewhat removed from the action. Simulations of large-field sports like soccer face an unavoidable challenge: although gamers need to see enough of the field for broad strategic decisions, we also want to feel close to the action. Konami accomplished this feat in International Superstar Soccer; I’m not sure EA is as effective in World Cup 98. Some of the wonderful medium-resolution
player detail is simply lost if it seems like I’m watching the action from the Goodyear Blimp. But the camera problem in World Cup 98 is not severe; it is possible to adjust the camera angles to suit one’s tastes.