FIFA 99 © 1999 EA Sports [Electronic Arts label]
A lengthy evolution bears gorgeous results in FIFA 99, a meaty sim that ranks right up there with the best sports games, period.
This is the fourth FIFA game that EA Sports Canada has developed for the N64, dating back to FIFA 64 in early '97. While that Pak's bright colors and gimmicky picture-in-picture option were clearly designed to appeal to younger players, the developers soon jettisoned the Crayola approach. The third entry in the series, World Cup 98, sported a subtle palette and, under the hood, a mind-boggling array of Team Management options that pegged it as a sim to be reckoned with.
The trend toward sophistication gains steam in FIFA 99. Players now have different heights, which can make a big difference when going for a header. Increased shading makes the players more life-like.
In-Game Management feature lets you set up three different formation/strategy combinations, then call them up in the heat of a match. With FIFA 99's IGM, you can configure individual lines in a flat, diamond or sweeper formation; reposition each player; call for an attacking, defensive or neutral approach; and designate who makes left corner kicks, right corner kicks, free kicks, spot kicks and penalty kicks.
The full FIFA license has always been a big selling point for this series. In all, FIFA 99 comes packed with a staggering 250-plus clubs from Europe and South America, plus 42 international teams.
While this is easily the biggest lineup of any FIFA game yet, fans of football exotica might be disappointed by the disappearance of the Malaysian club league and the dozens of minor international teams that populated FIFA 98: Road to the World Cup. While a salary cap prevents weak teams from loading up on superstars, the Team Edit mode makes it easy to move perennial powerhouse Real Madrid to bucolic Sinking Spring, Ohio.
Fortunately, all the major teams are here, complete with their latest home and away uniforms. For contractual reasons EA Sports is not making a big deal about the available players, but rest assured, superstars like Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane appear on both their national and club teams.
Although Brazilian superstar Ronaldo doesn't appear in the game, ace striker Gabriel Batistuta stars for both Nintendo-sponsored Fiorentina of the Italian Serie-A and his native Argentine team.
Instead of arcade or simulation modes, you have a choice of four aptly named game speeds: Normal, Fast, Faster and Fastest. You can also select from three difficulty levels, eight camera angles and half lengths ranging from 4 to 45 minutes. Interestingly, the clock always shows 45-minute halves, but runs much more quickly if you've picked a shorter period.
International fans will appreciate screen text in six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and Brazilian Portuguese. Commentary from John Motson, Chris Waddle and Mark Lawrenson is extremely well timed. The music by Fat Boy Slim includes the new single Rockafeller Skank.
You can set up seasons by mixing and matching any of the club teams. A Custom Cup options allows you to replay the World Cup. There are two exhibition modes: Friendly, which matches any two teams, and Golden Goal, in which two teams race to see which can be the first to score a preset number of goals.
If all these options prove overwhelming, selecting the Quick Start option tosses you head-first into a match between England's Manchester United and Arsenal clubs.
All those options would mean nothing if EA Sports hadn't backed them up with first-rate play control. Responsiveness, a concern in earlier FIFA games, is lightening-quick. New moves have been added, including chest trapping, fakes, jukes and in-air moves. Enhanced goalie AI gives you better control over your defense.
The ball physics are generally realistic, although some of the caroms off headers seem mighty high. With a little bit of resourcefulness you'll get used to the menu system, which looks stunning but comes laden with the sorts of bizarre symbols more at home on a European train schedule. British lingo like "fixtures" and "kit clashing" are likely to leave Yanks scratching their collective heads. Given the total lack of Controller tips, navigating the menu requires an astrolabe and compass or at least an instruction manual.
In short, EA Sports' FIFA series has come a long way from the spotty responsiveness of FIFA 64 and now stands toe-to-toe with Konami's International Superstar Soccer '98. While ISS '98's brightly colored menus and intuitive play control are ideal for players of all ages, FIFA 99's authentic players and clubs and high-end Team Management features peg it as a Pak aimed at mature players. One thing's for sure if you pick either Pak: You'll be a winner.
Game ID: NUS-N9FE-USA
Released on December 08, 1998 in the USA.
Electronic Arts Canada Team
Executive Producer: Bruce E. McMillan
Director, Product Development: Warren Wall
Producer: Marc Aubanel
Franchise Development Director: Gaivan Chang
Franchise Associate Producer: Andy Abramovici
Associate Producer: Nick Malaperiman
Assistant Producer: Nicholas Wlodyka
Development Director: Dylan Miklashek
Franchise Programming Architect: Matthew M. Brown
Franchise Art Lead: Jackie Marie Ritchie
Franchise In-Game Art Lead: David Bollesen
Senior Art Advisor: David Adams
Core Team Production: Brent Disbrow, Robert Kaill, Mike Larsen, Kerry Whalen
Core Team Development Directors: Mark Lutz, Giancarlo A. Mori
Core Team Programmers: Peter Andrew, Ben Cho, Juan Jorge Consuegra, Oleg Dopertchouk, Jorge Freitas, Michael Gordon, Darren Gyles, David Hards, Chris Khoo, Ken Koch, Michael Lankerovich, John Lawrie, Greg McBride, Yuji Nakashima, Brian Plank, Andrew Routledge, Jason Rupert, Anne Sullivan, Chor Guan Teo
Core Team Artists: Cesar Banares, Joseph Flumerfelt, Brian Keane, Tony Lee, Darcy Muenchrath
Animation Lead: Joe MacDonald
Animators: Craig Koehn, Norie Miura, Cory Slavin
Animation Assistant: Alan Chuck
Sound Artist Supervisor: Robert Bailey
Sound Artists: Omar Al-Khafaji, Chris Taylor, Neil Biggin
CG Supervisor: John Rix
Video Post Production: Ken Marshall, Taylor Moore, Steve Royea
Production Coordinators: Iris Benbassat, Jennifer Campbell, Catherine Williamson
Additional Programming: Wyatt Cheng, Penny Lee
Additional Art: Min Choi
Director, Digital Production: Jeremy Schwartz
Manager, Motion Capture: Evan Marc Hirsch
Motion Capture Senior Specialists: David Coleman, Stefan Van Niekerk
Motion Capture Shoot Supervisor: Daven Coburn
Motion Capture Team: Colin DeJose, Andrea Donnelly, Daniel Eayres, Eli Masi, Vincent Ng, Michael Paul
Manager, Libraries: Rick Friesen
Libraries: Ted Sylka, Yvo Zoer
Voice Talent: John Motson
Localization Producer: Heidi Newell
Localization Testing Coordinator: Dan Rodgers
Translation Coordinator: Sandra Picaper
Localization Testing: Andrea Bernardoni, Sylvain Caburrosso, Roberto Gandolfi, Laurent Gilbert, Oscar Jiménez, Ralph Jung, Bernd Niemietz, Sami Valkama, Paulo Vitor Carnelos
Translators: Dagmar Geller, Alexa Kortch, CBG Konsult, Sandra Picaper, Luis Pinés, Gryphon Game Translations, Paola Stegani (CTO), Paulo Vitor Carnelos
QA Coordinators: Jonathan Dowdeswell, John Johnson
QA Leads: Peter Dodson, Martin Katzenmeier
QA Assistant Leads: Joel Frigon, Mark Lawson
QA Testers: Malcolm Andrieshyn, Freya Berg, Braydon Burgess, Alistair Dejonge, Adam Gandy, Ryan Greenlow, Cristian Isac, Michael Lee, Matt Maddalozzo, Avinash Narayan, Bill Person, Jeff Piva, Kevin Rawlinson, Paul Rogers, Christie Rossignol, David Tong, David Weller
QA Common Team Lead: Eric Haugen
QA Common Team Assistant Leads: Jamey Brewster, Aaron Grant, Kristen Olafson
QA Common Team Testers: Chuck Boyle, Paul Inouye, Octavio Izaurralde, Brandon Jackson, Mike Kelly, Steve McLeod, Winston Sun, Kevin Towler
Mastering: Cary Chao, Jeff Hutchinson, Peter Petkov
QA Database: Randy Parmar, Bob Purewal
QA Tech Supervisor: John Santamaria
Hardware Compatibility Leads: Jason Feser, D'Arcy Gog
Hardware Compatibility Support: Paul Breland, Colin Cox, Mark McIntyre, Zech Prinz, Chris Wallace
Product Marketing: Clive Downie, Matt Eyre, Gary Knight, Sean Ratcliffe
Public Relations: Simi Belo, Simon Callaghan, Oscar del Moral, Karine Dognin, Kathy Frazier, Nick Grange, Trudy Muller, Marc Trennheuser, Anne Vaganay
Package Design: James Hanley, Linda Hunnicut, Jennie Maruyama, Tim Milner
Documentation: James Lenoël
EASM Quality Assurance: Gabriel Gils Carbó, Benjamin Crick, Jamil Dawsari, Daniel Hiatt, Bobby Joe, Anatol Somerville
Special Thanks: Aquarium Studios, Wendy Auckel, Stephen G. Bene, Lesley Burke, Simon Davison, Sue Garfield, Dominique Goy, Siobhan Grady, Achim Haaz, Iain Hancock, Beverly Koeckeritz, Cle Kooiman, Janny Lee, Inger Marshall, Mike Mosher, Patrick J. O'Brien, Rene Parra, Mark Rizzardo, Sheri Sarkis, Brian Ward, Pamela Ansman-Wolfe, Diadora, Fujifilm, Hummel, JVC, Lotto, Mastercard, McDonald's Corporation, Puma, Umbro International
Intro Video Composition: Bob Buckley Productions Inc.
Music Consultants: Tuff Break Sports & Entertainment (a forster bros. company)
Software Creations Team
Chairman: Michael Webb
Managing Director: Paul Hibbard-Teall
Senior Project Manager: Marc Wilding
Producer: David McLachlan
Lead Programmers: Stephen Ruddy, Mike Halsall
Programmers: Carleton Handley, Allan Findlay, Andrew Cross, David J. Broadhurst, Paul Gill
Lead Artists: Lyndon Brooke, Martin Walker
Artists: Gavin Eagleton, Matt Whiteley, Francis O'Brien, Craig Allen, Chris Collins, Anthony Anderson, Justin Eagleton
QA Manager: Paul Lee
QA Testers: Ajay Dadlani, Simon Hundleby, Tony McColgan