So it is here again, one of the most anticipated sports games of the year, the newest instalment of the FIFA Soccer series, FIFA 2004. New features of the game include the all new Off-The-Ball controlling scheme, improved AI and as always, new stunning graphics.
As always, the graphics in FIFA 2004 are amazing. EA Sports has made a huge effort out of making, the sun effects, the player kits and faces extremely realistic. And those are only a few examples. When playing with one of the top soccer teams in the world, like Manchester United or Real Madrid, you don’t even have to look at the name on the player’s jersey to know who the player is. It is that detailed.
As always EA Sports have updated the stadiums from last year’s edition and included a few new ones; nothing new there. One thing I would like to point out is this year's player movement. They are definitely not up to EA Sports standards. When a player is running it looks like he has an iron bar shoved up his butt. Basically there isn’t much new to report on the graphics front. EA Sports did an average job on updating the various elements. FIFA 2004 still looks good, but in my opinion the players look too static.
Again this year EA Sports has made a soundtrack with a very unique blend of artists.
From the rocky sound of The Raveonettes, to the techno and dance of Paul Van Dyk, EA Sports has created a soundtrack with something for everyone to enjoy. Along with the in-game sounds where the crowds cheer for their team with great passion and volume, to the catchy tunes in the menus, there is no doubt that the sound is FIFA 2004’s greatest advantage over the competition.
The controls and gameplay in this year’s FIFA leave a lot to be desired. The new Off-The-Ball controlling scheme takes A LOT of time to get used to, it’s so awkward. Basically you have to use 4 fingers and both hands to get it working to perfection. Controlling the players in general is also indeed very difficult. When sprinting with a player to get away from the opponent, you often cross the sideline because the player doesn’t stop running even though you let go of the button seconds earlier. This becomes very frustrating when playing.
Also, in a one-on-one situation where you want to do a step over to get past the opposition, it’s virtually impossible since you have to use 3 buttons and press them in the correct order for it to work and it usually just ends up with the opponent tackling you. Once again, a very frustrating element that could easily be corrected or made less complicated. A basic thing like heading the ball towards the goal is extremely difficult. When crossing the ball, the ball tends to not even make it into the box where the player is at. These are elements that make you wonder; who did EA have testing this game before it was released in stores?
Multiplayer features in FIFA 2004 is the usual 1-on-1 and multiplayer matchups online, where you can join communities and then play against each other in online leagues. Overall the multiplayer section works well, and you can always find someone to play against.
Overall I must say that I am disappointed with the newest iteration of the FIFA series. The controls simply ruin the overall experience; even though EA Sports have improved numerous other areas of the game, the updates just aren’t sufficient enough to save the overall feeling of the game. Buy this game if you can live with the flaws in the controls and want the great graphics that FIFA 2004 offers.