Microsoft International Football 2000
|a game by||Rage Games|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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It is a testament to Microsoft's commitment to games that in the space of a couple of years their status has risen from laughing stock to respected publisher with an impressive portfolio of titles in a number of genres. As far as football is concerned though, their only foray into the field resulted in the unmitigated humiliation that was Microsoft Soccer. Keen to make amends for this aberration, they enlisted the services of Rage and the result is the polysyllabic International Football 2000.
Rage may have recently forged a reputation for elaborate explosions, but they do have some football heritage via the Striker series (this title was originally intended to be an addition). They are also renowned for their graphical prowess, and IF2000 is no exception, arguably proving to be the best looking of the current crop of football games.
Football is all about action though, and IF2000 has it in abundance, with the emphasis on getting the ball into the box as quickly as possible, unhampered by the gimmicky special moves favoured by other games. Despite its international pretensions, the style is far more redolent of the hurly-burly of the Premiership, with time on the ball at a modicum and no quarter asked nor given in the challenge.
Goalmouth scrambles are commonplace, as are extravagant saves and, with two evenly matched sides, it is genuinely end-to-end stuff. The speed of the game can be varied, and at its fastest levels it's enough to evoke memories of the epic SWOS, a notion furthered by a typically ebullient Jonathan Pearce commentary. Whereas his over-the-top approach might grate over the course of 90 minutes, it's actually well suited to a computer game and matches the frantic nature of the action. Alongside him is the eminently more laconic Ron Atkinson, who sounds as if he is reading from a script, which of course he is, although to the script writer's credit, he's managed to get Big Ron to bastardise Alan Partridge's "foot like a traction engine" quote.
Essentially, IF2000 is straightforward arcade stuff, making for an exciting game of football, as opposed to a tactical stand off. The temptation to tamper with your team is also lessened by the fact that all the player names are made up, something that might not trouble the casual player but will annoy genuine football fans. Naming players after members of the development team might be hilarious 'in the office', but does nothing for someone who's just shelled out 35 quid for the game. Of course, there is an option to edit the players, but it will be utilised only by life prisoners, serial loners and the unemployed.
At the end of the day, International Football 2000 is a better game than EA's FA Premier League Stars, but the fact remains that it won't sell anywhere near the same number of copies. Those who do buy it will enjoy it though, and it would be interesting to see what Rage could do with a decent licence. Now that would be a commitment.