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PS2 Reviews: This Is Football 2002

The Final Say!

This is Football 2002 - reviewed by Andrew Parsons
Review Date: 17 February 2002
Review Score: 8.3/10
Distributed By: Sony Computer Entertainment

"This Is Football 2002 is yet another attempt at dislodging the FIFA series – can this one do it?"

I don’t have much time to waste as I currently have things that are far more important to do to prevaricate, so let’s get one thing clear right up front – TIF2002 is a game that will consume your life. To help you understand this a little better, let me be even clearer – TIF2002 is a game that will take up every spare day, every spare hour and every spare minute of a soccer fan’s time.


Now, can I get back to the game please? No, you want more? All right, let me consider how to convey to you how deep the gameplay is, how graphically soothing This Is Soccer 2002 is to a soccer fan, how amazingly natural the SFX and background music sound. Be right back…


… OK, I’ve gushed, and settled down. This Is Soccer 2002 (or abbreviated as TIF 2002 which stands for This Is Football – nice consistency, huh?), is one of those titles that sucks you in leaving you in need for breath. Every genre has one, and for soccer, this is the current breath-catcher.

Yes, there are some flaws which I’ll get to in a minute, but firstly let’s consider the good points.


Graphically, TIF2002 is very impressive. On most camera angles, the textures look similar to those in FIFA or ISS, but those rare times when you get a closer view you can actually see a lot more detail than you would expect from a game – blades of grass, seams in shorts and shirts, and other minor details show a game that has been “thought through thoroughly”.


The player animations are also suitably well-crafted. Some of the animations may not link together as well as similar segues in FIFA or ISS, but they still work, and mostly they work better. Worth mentioning is the well detailed faces on the top 100 or so players in the game. Whenever you see them, even at extreme close-up, you’ll recognise them straight away.


The backgrounds are not forgotten either. Rather than cardboard fans, you’ll see all sorts of carry-on happening in the crowd. Flares, motion and flags are all present and as distracting as real life professional soccer could be.


Continuing on with the crowds, we can move on to sound. You’ll not only hear the cheers and roar of the audience as you play through a match, but actual team chants as well. Adding specific details like this can really raise the immersion rate immensely.


Add to these specific chants and things, the very specific nature of a large proportion of the commentator’s voice overs and you have yet another sign of a game that is trying hard to get ALL the details right.


The rest of the sound effects aren’t anything absolutely brilliant, but they don’t detract from the title either – there’s only so far you can go with the sound of boot on ball.


As for gameplay, you won’t find much to complain about in that arena either. Rather than FIFA’s sticky passing where the ball only goes where a player is, TIF2002 allows you to pass it anywhere, which is quite nice.


In addition to the normal shoot and pass manoeuvres, you also have headers, handballs, and special spin and heel-flip moves. The additional moves add to the depth of the game and give you a sense of completeness even in this way.


The standard options in terms of games are here – Quick start, Exhibition match and Competitions, with the competitions being divided into National, International and Special tournaments. Want to play in the English Premier League? Go right ahead. Or maybe you want to see if you can do better with the Australian team than they did themselves? By my guest. Or, as a final example, how about playing in the Schoolboys tournament? Do it all.


Besides the whopping 22 leagues, there is a custom league with 20 teams that can be fully customised. Yes, I did say 22 leagues. So you don’t just have English Premier League, but also 1st Division. There’s not just the top French League, but the top THREE divisions for the French competition, and the list keeps going on.


One of my personal favourites, is the Time Warp teams. Choose from around 20 teams from different decades – set up a game to have a 70’s Glasgow team facing up to a set of players from the 1950’s Madrid teams.


If all of this isn’t enough for you, make your own teams, and these can be customised right down to the n-th degree. There are more than 10 million combinations possible when just picking the characteristics of the player’s head and ethnicity. Add to this the equally diverse customisation in their skill levels, and a real difference in the size of the models based on the height and weight you enter, and you start to get an idea of how much fun you can have with this title.


Finally, you get to multi-player. Soccer has long been a stalwart multi-tap game, and TIF2002 is no exception. Plugging ours in, we were able to have some intense 3 and 4 player action quickly and easily, and have started some major arguments…


The flaws I mentioned earlier? Well, they really are few in number, but they’re significant enough that they may affect your enjoyment of the title – in fact, both of them could split soccer fans into two emotional camps of “right” and “wrong”.


Firstly, there is a severe lack of camera angles and control thereof. This may not seem a major oversight for those who like the default side view, but for some, the need is there to play the game from a completely different viewpoint. Unlike other reviewers who dropped their score by a huge margin just for this, we feel that the game is pretty solid without it, and so have only marginally dropped the score for this omission.


Secondly, ISS still “feels” the most right. The developers of ISS got the feeling of a game of soccer right back in the N64 days, and have continued to improve it. And admittedly, the other developers are still playing catch-up. However, TIF2002 is a far better attempt than any of its predecessors, or its other current competition at getting that feeling right.


There is one other thing that might leave a few people disappointed. Arsenal isn’t present. Never fear, ALL the other teams for the top two divisions in the English league are there – just not Arsenal. However that kind of thing happens all the time in these days of exclusive contracts between developers and teams, and we’ve started become inured to it.


So, overall, This Is Football 2002 is one of the more solid, dependable games of football – er, soccer – on the market for ANY console. With this title in your collection, you’ll be hard pressed for a reason to buy any other soccer title.


- Andrew Parsons

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