FIFA 97 - Gold Edition

Ever since Electronic Arts released the first FIFA title for the Sega Genesis and the Super NES, it has been the yardstick by which all other soccer simulations are measured. Players were wowed by FIFA's stunning player animation, technical accuracy and realistic sound effects, including sampled crowd chants that truly captured the emotion of the world's most popular sport as no other simulation previously had.

Electronic Arts has completely rebuilt their already excellent soccer engine for the long-awaited PlayStation version of FIFA 97. As in previous installments. FIFA 97 features real teams, uniforms and players from around the globe. EA used their patented MotionBlending method of motion capture to animate FIFA 97's realtime 3-D players, accurately rendered down to the numbers on their jerseys. Players will perform a number of authentic movements, including headers, body blocks, sliding tackles and just about any other move you might find in the game the English affectionately refer to as "football."

Many sports games are including both Simulation and Arcade Modes of play in order to appeal to a wider range of sports gamers. FIFA 97 is no exception. In addition to the traditional Simulation Mode, FIFA 97 has a new High Speed Mode that features an adrenaline-charged, arcade-style of play for gamers wanting a quick soccer fix.

With the power of the previous FIFA titles behind it FIFA 97 could turn some heads on the strength of its name alone. But you can be sure that the folks at EA will not be content to release simply "another FIFA game." Instead, they're looking to provide their customers with a completely new gameplay experience. For better or worse, this kind of approach to game design is welcomed by gamers who are looking for something more than the run of the mill. What we've seen of this title indicates that this could be just such a game.

Although there are a number of quality soccer titles in the works, any sports product from EA carries a number of high expectations. In some ways, this is certain to make designing sequels tough on the developers, especially considering the hostility with which game reviewers view "updates," which are nothing more than rereleases of previous games which may differ only cosmetically from their predecessors. From what we've seen. EA looks to have taken care of this problem head-on.

Often imitated but never duplicated, FIFA 97 should make an excellent addition to any sports gamer's 32-Bit library.

MANUFACTURER - EA THEME - Sport NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-8

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