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Fox Sports Soccer 99 (PC) Review

Background Info

If EA Sport's FIFA 98: Road to the World and successor World Cup 98 is used as a benchmark for comparison of Soccer games, Fox Sports Soccer 99 falls far short. There are some unique features in the game but overall, there was a lot of dissatisfaction.

Presentation/Graphics : 82
The opening cut scenes were long and sometimes out of focus so that it was hard to see the information provided. Ah, but who pays much attention to cut scenes? Let's play on! After getting to the field, the stadium and player graphics were clean and crisp, but the players looked like robots out of a grade B sci-fi movie. There was no real curvature to the players' bodies nor limbs. Team jerseys were well represented and very accurate. Weather effects are better than in other games. A game in the snow actually shows the slide marks after a tackle and then the snow covers up the marks after a while. Fox Sports Soccer 99 does give many options for graphics resolution in the Options menu to tailor the best resolution for your video card, whether the video card supports 3dfx or Direct3d.

Presentation/Audio : 82
The background sound was really good and the variance of clips didn't get old like in some other soccer games. Play by play wasn't very good as some words were mumbled and repeated often. Fox Sports should have switched the audio around so there was more play by play and less variance of background music.

Interface/Options : 78
The menus were very confusing and a simple fix would be to have navigation words highlighted over each menu option. This would ease the navigation through the menus. Frequent references to the manual were made to recall what each icon meant. The manual that comes with the game is another problem. Controls described in it were primarily for one controller. Keyboard and joystick players will have to guess the appropriate controls, unless you can find the controls setup in the Options menu to see what a player needs to use.

Gameplay : 80
The speed of play in the game is too fast. Players are running at a rapid pace and this doesn't seem to follow real soccer. Trying to find another player to pass to is difficult as the view doesn't show many other players on the field. There are basically only 4 controls to the game: Pass, Shoot, Run, Long Kick/Slide Tackle (depending if you have the ball or not). This really limits the beauty of play as it is very difficult to set up plays, especially Free Kicks, Corner Kicks, etc, when you are unsure of what the AI players are going to do. Really disturbing is that the only defensive control is a slide tackle. There are other control options such as one-touch shots, chip shots, and through passes, but these are very hard to perform. At harder difficulty levels, the player has to actually face the spot on the net to have the ball shot there. So faking out the goalie to score is not an option.

The game automatically determines the highlighted player controlled. This is very disturbing as a player is moved towards an attacking fielder, the game highlights another player, who is not in the correct position and leaves a wide-open gap for the attacking fielder to score.

Another of the unique features in Fox Sports Soccer 99 is the replays after a goal. The replay shows statistics of the goal such as shot speed in miles per hour, the play setup, and more. This was really interesting, but after a few goals, seeing 5 different camera angles of the same goal really slowed the game down.

The players' names on each team didn't appear correct to teams that are familiar in real life. This could be explained as Fox Sports doesn't have a license with FIFA.

Difficulty : 88
This is one of the more difficult games to sort out and play. The automatic player highlight option, lack of different moves, having to face the goal to shoot on net at higher difficulties, and not being able to amply view teammates made this game very difficult to make any plays and mount any domination over other teams. If a person likes to have one player run down the field at the net and take a shot, then this is easy to learn, but for those people that like the beauty of the game with play-making, this game ranks among the higher difficulty.

Overall : 82
The impressive features in Fox Sports Soccer 99 are the goal statistics, multiplayer over the internet, and weather effects. This is good, but the it is not worth it as the gameplay suffers. Fox Sports needs to improve gameplay drastically with improvements in controls, camera views, player molding, speed, and not to mention improvements in the navigation of the menus and a more detailed and a better layout of the manual. Otherwise, this game will end up being the first soccer game in the bargain basket of the local computer store.

By: Eric D. 8/21/98

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