EA Canada developed a damn pretty game.
Also released on PC and PsOne, Fifa 2001: Major League Soccer, this is the complete title, is probably the most awaited sports game on Ps2.
Over the years, EA Sports has released several versions of the game, introducing each year small improvements, sometimes too small to justify the purchase of a new game. Fifa 2001 isn't a revolutionary title but hey, this game is for sure the best looking soccer game ever seen on a console.
The first big surprise in Fifa 2001 is the enormous number of real players and teams included in the game. There are 17 leagues and Fifa features all the players and all the teams from each of them. Or if you prefer, you can choose one of the 60 national teams: overall, in Fifa there are hundreds of teams to choose from and each with their own statistics indicating weaknesses and strengths. Every team has its own official uniform and badge, and all the players have their real names. But what will make the soccer enthusiast start with joy is the fact that also the physical appearance, first of all the faces, has magnificently been recreated. In the European and American version of the game, every virtual player is absolutely similar to his real counterpart; even if I haven't had the opportunity to verify that this treatment has been reserved to unknown players (I guess not), I can assure that I have not succeeded in finding two identical faces in Fifa 2001.
The number of polygons used for each players are absolutely superior to that of any other soccer game. Playing with Fifa, more than once, you feel like you're seeing a real soccer game.
It is difficult to imagine what level of perfection will achieve next generation games, if a launch title like Fifa is able to show such greatness. Before a game starts, you will see the players stretching and performing various exercises; on the sidelines you will see linesman, ball boys, and players in their bench.
The game modes are those usual of the Fifa series. You can try to win the World Cup with a national team or with a national team featuring only Under-23 players; you can decide to play through a whole season choosing one of the 17 national championships featured in the game, or you can perform in a single competition against one or more friends. In fact, the multiplayer mode of the game supports a maximum of 8 players. If you have two Multitaps and eight controllers you will spend indeed some unforgettable gaming hours. In the Training mode you can improve your skills and if you mess a little with the complex options menu you can also create a new team or a new player. You can decide the best schemes for your team according to your opponents' statistics. Needless to say that atmospheric conditions vary from game to game; you can play at night, in the afternoon or in full day, under an annoying rain or under a shining sun.
You'll easily master Fifa's controls, even if all the buttons of the Dual Shock 2 are used. You can move your players using the left analogical stick; the four main buttons are used to perform basic actions while L2 and R2 buttons will let you make great thing with your players. You'll need a little practice to perform these special moves but they do the difference between a good player and a normal or mediocre one. A novelty, in comparison to the preceding versions, is the introduction of a shot power bar that allows to easily control the power of your shots. This bar is very similar to the one seen in Konami's soccer games or in EA's NHL games. The ball decidedly bounces in a realistic way and also the artificial intelligence of your teammates and of the adversaries is probably the best ever realized in a soccer game. Each of the players in field, goalkeepers included (you know, goal-keepers are so weak in a lot of soccer games), has his own personality. You will always have to make more than an attempt to properly balance the strengths of your team in order to get the best results on the grass field.
If you're a fan of the series you'll surely appreciate the gameplay of this new Fifa. And if you've never played a Fifa game before but you like soccer, this is definitely a must-buy.