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World Cup 98

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)


EA Sports


EA Canada


May 1998

ROM Size:

96 megabits


One to Four Simultaneous


Sports (Soccer)


Controller Pak (117 pages)





> Final Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0


As improbable as it seems, EA Sports' World Cup 98 marks the third FIFA soccer game the company has released on the N64 in 14 months. The good news is that each game has progressively gotten better, and World Cup 98 is no exception. In fact, it has now dethroned Konami's International Superstar Soccer 64 as the best all-around soccer game available on any system.

Gameplay & Control

World Cup 98 is running on a slightly improved version of the FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 engine. But there are many improvements, as small as they seem, in World Cup 98 to propel the game to new levels. World Cup 98 just screams "extremely polished."


The one huge advantage World Cup 98 has over the competition is that it's the only officially licensed World Cup soccer game by FIFA that's available in the U.S. That means it's the only game in which you'll see Footix, the Woody Woodpecker-lookalike mascot of World Cup France 98. It's the only game with all of the real-life sponsors. It's the only game with all of the actual players. It's the only game with all of the actual team uniforms and logos. It's the only game with all 10 of the official French stadiums. Basically, it's the only game that can capture the excitement of the World Cup.


World Cup 98 contains many new features and improvements over FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 when it comes to gameplay, control, and options. First of all, there are the 32 countries that actually qualified plus eight EA "wish had qualified." (Those extra eight teams, by the way, are Australia, Canada, China PR, Greece, Portugal, R Ireland, Russia, and Sweden.) Some of the important improvements and/or additions are faster gameplay, control that's more precise with less delays, on-the-fly play-calling, eight classic World Cup scenarios, better artificial intelligence for the goalies, and skill moves.


There are also many more subtle and cosmetic additions and/or improvements to the game. For example, there are on-screen stat updates (time of possession, shots on target, corners won, etc.), better after-goal celebrations, trivia questions during each game (question at halftime with the answer at the end of the game), random World Cup groupings, the ability to select the teams you want in the World Cup, national anthems, more realistic weather conditions (lightning flashes, sound of thunder), the capability to save the progress of not just one World Cup but two, and an on-field referee.


Options aren't a problem in World Cup 98, either. In fact, neither everything imaginable can be changed in some way. Here's a brief look at some of the options: You can change the half length (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 20, or 45), language, clock countdown style, display, weather, injuries, bookings, game speed, sound levels, etc., not to mention changing some of the rules (like offsides) and changing the handicap levels.


Most of the problems in FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 have been fixed, but World Cup 98 is still not perfect. The control still lags a little compared to International Superstar Soccer 64, and in the beginning I had trouble receiving some passes; it would sometimes automatically kick the ball ahead like a give and go. I guess it has something to do with using the Control Stick. The menu setup in World Cup 98 is also kind of confusing at first.

Graphics & Sound

Graphically, World Cup 98 looks incredible in motion. The game features an even more TV-like presentation than its previous incarnations, the player models are amazingly life-like and realistic, and there is some very impressive camera work. Furthermore, EA has even improved the animation from FIFA: Road to World Cup 98. The same great weather effects, light-sourcing, and real-time shadows are included, too.


Sound-wise, World Cup 98 is also very similar to its predecessor. At the title screen this time around, though, you're treated to a 10-second sample of "Tubthumping" from Chumbawumba. You know, the "I get knocked down, but I get up again." song. There's also a nice, random selection of background tunes when you're in the menus. The selection is probably better than the previous FIFA games. The commentary is once again solid, but I wish someone would scream "Goal, gooaall, gooooaaaallll!" By the way, for you European soccer fans, there's even some guest commentary by Kenneth Wostenholme.


The old adage "the third time's the charm" certainly applies here. World Cup 98 has finally surpassed International Superstar Soccer 64 as the best soccer game around. The control and intelligence are still just a smidgen below ISS64, but the graphics, sound, FIFA World Cup license, and management options make up for it. It will be interesting to see how Konami's forthcoming International Superstar Soccer '98 compares with this. For now, though, EA is the king.
















With newer soccer games such as International Superstar Soccer '98 and FIFA 99 on the market, World Cup 98 does have the ability of filling a niche if you want a licensed World Cup game. The soccer itself is solid, but has since been eclipsed by the likes of those two games. But if you don't want ISS '98 because it has fictitious players and teams, and you don't want FIFA 99 because it emphasizes European soccer, then World Cup 98 might be a good purchase from the bargain bin.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: June 4, 1998

Appendix Added: December 28, 1998




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