Sunday 14 February 2016

FIFA Soccer 96 (32X review)

Developer: Probe Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: 1995

FIFA Soccer 96 is a sports game that was released on a number of different consoles including the PlayStation and Sega Saturn.

The modes are plentiful and include Friendly (single match), League (between 16 teams), Tournament (World Cup with six groups) and Playoffs (knockout round). These feature over 3,500 players from 200 teams and 12 leagues, but the main innovation is the six camera angles you can switch between. Once the action starts any hope of a smooth transition to 3D for the series vanishes as there's multiple gameplay issues including an extremely choppy frame-rate. Button presses are frequently ignored and the game sometimes refuses to select the nearest player, leaving your opponent to wander freely up the pitch. Team stats also seem to account for nothing as in the matches I played the lowly Luxembourg were just as fast as the mighty Brazil and covered my players with relative ease. The camera angles continue the downward spiral, particularly the isometric Stadium and Shoulder views; here the action is zoomed in too far and on many occasions you'll pass the ball and the camera will lag behind. Telecam shows the action from the middle of the pitch for a better view but amusingly it's now zoomed out too far and the players look like pixilated dots! Sideline is probably the most palatable view as it's still at centre pitch but gives you a closer look at what's happening. Cable and Endzone shift around from an isometric view to above the goalposts but the violent sweeping camera is vomit inducing. The guitar-heavy music is good but the crowd noise is distorted. The graphics are also poor with jagged lines, screen tearing, horribly pixilated crowds and dreadful animation.
While I'll give FIFA Soccer 96 credit for trying to move the series into the 3D era it fails miserably and the end result is an unplayable mess that fails in both gameplay and technical execution. It has very few redeeming qualities and in my opinion you're better off sticking with the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis versions instead.
Random trivia: The game is one of only two 32X titles to be released exclusively in Europe; the other is Darxide (1995).

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