Publisher: Electronic Arts (2000)
I don't know much about soccer, but I've always found these FIFA games to be entertaining nonetheless. Highly realistic graphics detail the players down to the muscles in their legs. Players change facial expressions to show joy or frustration, and even argue with the officials. Most of the action is seen from high overhead however, so much of the graphic detail is lost during the actual game. The stadiums and crowd look great, and the weather conditions are convincing, even though it rains all the time! The controls include a shoot, pass, lob, and turbo button. Holding a button down lets you head the ball, and double tapping lets you to perform a bicycle kick. On defense there are conservative and aggressive "tackles". FIFA is easy to play, but the multiplayer mode can be confusing because of the constant player switching. As in real soccer, there's not much scoring. The two British commentators add realism and stay on top of the action. They're occasionally hilarious, so be sure to crank up the commentator volume and turn down the crowd (why does EA always set the crowd noise so high?) The game doesn't have any major flaws. You can be just about any professional team in the world, and the game is fully customizable. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2001)
This groundbreaking soccer series returns with slightly refined graphics and gameplay. Whether it's worth upgrading from FIFA 2001 depends on if you're a hardcore fan or casual gamer. The frenetic gameplay is exceptionally fun, despite the lack of scoring inherent in soccer games. Responsive controls really put you on the field. Sliding into an opponent, making a crisp pass, or executing a well-timed header is quite satisfying. The player graphics are stellar, and their reactions look great even from a distance. Slow motion, cinematic cutaways add drama, but they also reveal some downright scary-looking player faces. The stadiums and grass look incredibly realistic, and 3D cameramen follow the action up and down the sidelines. Background chants from the crowd add atmosphere, and the play-by-play is solid (although the color commentary doesn't add much). Although FIFA 2001 is loaded with options and playing modes, one element is conspicuous in its absence: The World Cup! You can QUALIFY for it, but not compete in it. Isn't that like having a football game without a Super Bowl? Interestingly enough, Electronic Arts has announced a NEW soccer game to be released soon called World Cup Soccer. Hmmm... very suspicious. Besides that bit of controversy, FIFA 2002 is a fine soccer game that even non-fans will enjoy. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: 2K Games (2006)
Rating: Mature (mature humor, partial nudity, violence)
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Fantavision was one of the PS2 "launch" titles, and I recall reading in a magazine how it really didn't have much to offer. They were right. Fantavision is a unique puzzle game where you "catch" and detonate firework flares in particular sequences. The more you manage to catch and detonate at once, the higher you score. Complicating matters is the fact that you can only collect flares of the same color, unless you employ a "multicolored" flare to "chain" colors. A thorough tutorial explains the types of flares, items, and various techniques you can employ, but once I started playing I found the action to be mindless and repetitive. I suppose it's mildly satisfying to set off an exceptionally long chain, but there's really no goal in Fantavision and the game seems to drag on and on as you rack up outrageous scores. The firework effects are less than spectacular, and the attractive city backgrounds are barely noticeable once the action gets underway. Fantavision may appeal to some young kids, but there's just not enough game here for me. I don't care for the queer name either. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tecmo (2001)
Rating: Teen (blood, gore, violence)
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
Publisher: Tecmo (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood, violence)
Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 1
Publisher: SNK (2007)
Rating: Teen (mild suggestive themes, violence)
Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 2
Publisher: SNK Playmore (2008)
Publisher: THQ (2003)
This game is fine to play on a lazy summer afternoon, but I couldn't find much to get excited about. The storyline faithfully follows the film, so you'll be able to control Dory and Nemo's dad in addition to the loveable clownfish himself. Although the stages are rendered in lush 3D, about half of them employ an old school, 2D style of play as you dodge enemies, avoid traps, and traverse maze-like reefs. It's also possible to hide in coral and attack enemies with bubbles. In the 3D stages, you typically swim through rings while moving toward or away from the screen. Man, I really got sick of those after a while. This game has a way of taking a cool concept, like outrunning a Great White Shark, and absolutely beating it to death. I have never been so happy to see puzzles, which occasionally break up the monotony. My favorite stage of all involves finding a series of fish hiding in an aquarium. Finding Nemo's colorful graphics are gorgeous as you'd expect, rivaling the clips shown from the film (and there are many). The fish swim in a fluid manner and the backgrounds are scenic yet unobtrusive. This is certainly one of the better-looking games I've played on my PS2. The controls are perfectly good, and a superb orchestrated soundtrack ranges from tranquil to intense. Stages are reasonable in length, with frequent checkpoints. The difficulty is easy, although collecting all of the bonus items can be a challenge. There are no glaring flaws with Finding Nemo, but I found myself growing weary of it about halfway through. Younger kids and Nemo fans can safely bump up the grade by one letter, but those looking for some excitement should look elsewhere. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
Publisher: Spikes (2007)
I was intrigued by the title of this game: Fire Pro Wrestling Returns! Returns?
Did it leave?
Was it ever here to begin with?
Like most gamers, I had never heard of Fire Pro Wrestling, but its old-school graphics and rock-bottom price made it worth checking out. The wrestlers are rendered in 2D, but they are surprisingly high in resolution and well animated. The number of moves is pretty astonishing. You'll watch the CPU play against itself for ten minutes and rarely see a repeated move. Fire Pro definitely has some potential, but only the most diligent gamers will overcome its learning curve. With controls spread over seven pages
of the manual, this game is anything but pick-up-and-play. The instructions do a lousy job of explaining the basic mechanics, and don't even mention how to pin your foe for the win! It's not always easy to "line up" with your opponent, so you'll find yourself executing flying kicks at thin air. When grappling, the player who gets the upper hand seems very random, and this encourages button-mashing. I tried to get the hang of the game, but never felt fully in control. Another big issue is the incomprehensible user interface which makes setting up a tournament an utter nightmare. You get about a million different wrestlers to choose from, but they all have the same pudgy builds. When playing my friend Scott he commented "Man, this has so much potential - if we could only get it to work!" Dedicated wrestling fans can bump up the grade by a letter, but few others will make much sense of this. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Firefighter F.D. 18
Publisher: Konami (2004)
Rating: Teen (blood, mild language, violence)
Publisher: Sony (2001)
Despite my affinity for dance music and rhythm games, I didn't find Frequency as appealing as I expected. The game is a virtual ride through a musical tunnel composed of various "tracks", each representing a different instrument in the song, like bass, voice, guitar, or drums. Each track is three "notes" wide, and by hitting buttons matching the symbols you pass over, you can get that part of the song going, and then switch to the next track. I could see where they were going with this, and it's certainly an original concept, but the pieces don't quite come together. For one thing, the control scheme isn't very comfortable. To hit the three notes, the game recommends you use the shoulder buttons, but that's pretty counter-intuitive when you think about it. You also have the option of using the square/triangle/circle buttons, which make far more sense, but these will cause your fingers to cramp up big time. Although it's sonically appealing to hear different parts of the song kick in, once you get one thing going like drums or bass, it seems like another sound goes away, so you can never play the song fully. The screen is probably more complicated than it needs to be with various gauges, numbers, and power-ups. The graphics are functional, but the tunnels all look the same. Of course, a major factor in any music game is the song selection, and Frequency has its moments. Although featured artists like No Doubt and Fear Factory provide some worthy tracks, the best stuff comes from low-profile artists like Akrobatik, the Dub Pistols, and Lo Fidelity All-Stars. In the end, Frequency was definitely on the right track, but didn't quite hit the mark. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.