The annual battle of the football games comes round again, and this time the competition is fiercer than it's been in some years. What a year, then, for the longest running of them all to play its trump card and put in its finest performance to date. For with new added features, and a general all-round polish, FIFA 2004 becomes a must-buy. The big innovation this time round is the off-the-ball feature, and this really is a stroke of genius. It's fiddly to get to grips with, but basically when attacking, you can control a separate player as they run into space, ready to take receipt of a killer pass that splits the opposition defence open. It takes a little working at, but when it comes off, you'll be smug beyond belief. The feature itself genuinely adds an added tactical edge to a game that used to be wrongly dismissed as an arcade-style kickabout. On top of that, there are the things that FIFA does better than anyone. The presentation, audio and visuals are superb from top to bottom, and the improvements to the club management side boost the game's longevity. Most importantly of all, at the heart of all these improvements is a highly playable football game that's very easy to get into yet suitably challenging to master. And in multi-player mode, it's even better. --Simon Brew
Groundbreaking Gameplay: FIFA 2004 offers a fine-tuned game engine, and new animations dramatically enhance the smoothness in player movement through organic motion.
Expanded Database and Controls: Enjoy richer depth to team AI, attributes, tactics, playing styles, and individual player personalities. New depth to control keeps FIFA easy to pick up and play but gives greater depth for the master.
Be the Ultimate Player Manager: Be your own player manager with FIFAís deep Career Mode. Build your franchise and guide your club to the Championship by making calculated front-office decisions. Manage your teamís budget and promote or relegate your players to sustain franchise objectives on the pitch. When one season ends and another begins new challenges will present themselves. The most successful player managers should also be ready for promotions, as some of the worldís top clubs may have new job offers.
In-game Management: You think itís easy being the coach? Prove your tactical genius on the fly. Donít second-guess yourself after the final whistleómake adjustments mid-game and call plays in real time via D-pad.
Immersive Environments: More than 300 new crowd chants at an ever growing list of officially licensed stadiums help put you in the best seat in the house. From stadiums small and large, no soccer gaming experience offers a more complete library of the gameís authentic environments. An all-new dynamic weather feature even affects gameplay, so choose your home wisely.