Last night my wife and I purchased FIFA Soccer in spite of our general dislike of sports games. Our purchase was driven by one thing: multi-player capacity. We really enjoy multi-player games. From five player Bomberman on the TG16 to four player Warbirds on the Lynx, we have had a great time with some multi-player games.
These games really fall into two catagories as far as I am concerned -- those in which every player must have their own copy of the hardware and software and those which are played on a single CPU with a single copy of the software. Of the two I prefer the latter -- not because having each person with their own perspective is bad -- but because it is usually easier to get a group together to play a multi-player game when running on a single CPU. The "cost per person" is alot lower. (I sold my Lynx when I moved away from the group that played and there was no interest in my new collegues in purchasing a Lynx.)
So within this context, we purchased FIFA soccer and have played about an hour in exhibition mode.
What an amazing game. We played two player cooperative against the computer. Any combination of human players per team seems to be possible from all on one side to three on three to one on five, the game engine supports it.
This game plays fast, furious and fun. The controls are relatively simple -- though some of the nuances escaped me in the short time I have played. (Defense is still largely beyond me :) The game is certainly challenging. We played as Italy against Argentina and got stomped up and down the field -- having a great time all the while.
So in this regard the game exceeds my expectations. I was looking for a fun four to six player game. I found a fun one to two player game as well. Very suprising considering my normal sports game reaction.
The graphics and sound are stellar. The camera angle is floating and is selected from one of several different styles. The field, stadium and players all look good. Of course a stadium can only be so exciting to look at and as a result, while the graphics are impressive, they are not the most exciting the 3do has to offer.
The stadium sound is Dolby Surround encoded and reacts to the play. It feels as close to standing in the middle of a cheering staduim as I have ever been. Playing this game through a Dolby Surround decoder comes strongly recommended.
In all this game is instantly engaging. Given the multi-player aspect, I cannot imagine that it would ever get boring given enough hunam (SCII joke) opponents. As to the AI, I have played only enough to know that the computer AI kicked my wife and I up and down the field during our first hour of play. Whether or not it remains challenging as the hours becomes days I can not yet say.