'Fox Sports Soccer '99' brings arcade-style action home
By Brandon FirferAugust 19, 1998
Web posted at 10:41 AM ET
(CNN) -- Until recently, soccer -- the most popular sport in the world -- has failed to attract a major following in the United States. But the heavy coverage of this year's World Cup has led to a surge in interest, and video game publishers have responded by introducing several highly touted soccer games for both consoles and PCs.
Veteran EA Sports has come out with two different games, both well-received by the publi, and now Fox Sports has entered the fray with "Fox Sports Soccer '99."
Arcade vs. Simulation
Fox Sports Network has been at the forefront of presenting both MLS and International League soccer games to the American audience. But instead of offering an in-depth realistic soccer simulation geared toward fans who follow their favorite soccer team and players, Fox has created a game based primarily on its arcade values.
This could be a letdown for some in Fox's diehard soccer audience. Those expecting to play Carlos Valderrama and the Miami Fusion against Alexi Lalas and the NY/New Jersey MetroStars, or hoping for rematches from some of the classic games from this year's World Cup, will be disappointed.
While "Fox Sports Soccer" allows you to play a season or a Cup tournament with your favorite city or country team (which only barely represent their real-life counterparts), this game is directed toward fans of quick, hard action and arcade-style play. Whereas other titles require learning a plethora of commands (some of which entail grueling finger aerobics), this game requires you to master just eight basic commands.
What it adds up to is a fast-paced, hard-hitting game, reminiscent of a coin-operated arcade game, that can be at times exciting and frustrating.
Bi-lingual sound; commendable graphics
Fox's game offers the unique option of listening to the commentators in English or Spanish. But don't expect to hear the exciting rant of the Spanish-speaking commentator leading up to the final goal of the World Cup in France; most of the commentary is limited to a quick remark after a goal or a missed tackle.
The graphics are above average, though not spectacular. There are many different weather options, including rain, mist and snow (which includes the ever-garish orange ball and well-done footprints). When a goal is scored, the game shows numerous camera angles and interesting stats of the goal, such as distance and power of the shot.
An excellent option in "Fox Sports Soccer 99" is the scenario mode, in which the user has the opportunity to take over different teams in interesting situations. For example, you can take over the U.S. team playing France late in the second half with the score tied. Once completed, you can go on to more difficult scenarios. This is a good way to brush up on situations that may occur later while playing a season or tournament.
Since this is Fox's first soccer title, one might expect some flaws in the gameplay. Unfortunately, this game has two flaws that could have some players throwing their controllers to the ground.
First off, the gameplay is much too fast. Sometimes it feels like the soccer field is the size of a tennis court. The second one of your players gets the ball, he is immediately swarmed by the computer opponents. There is little time to even think strategy in this game. Once he gets the ball, he needs to get rid of it right away or be absolutely manhandled by the opponent. One wonders, why have the option of using different formations? Why not make the guys more static, like a large foosball game?
Second, and probably most frustrating, is that you don't get to choose which player you want to control. Rather, the computer switches control to the player closest to the ball. This can result in occasions where, when controlling a defender chasing the opponent with the ball, the control would suddenly switch to a defender that is closer to the ball, but on the other side of the opponent. Thus, it is easy to charitably give a scoring lane to your opponent.
Overall, this game leaves a lot to be desired. But it is Fox's first title. Hopefully, they will learn from their freshman mistakes and offer more control and more realistic gameplay in the future.
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