|Thoughts On FIFA 99 With 'New' Patch
By Boon Kiat
I know Ee Siang from the ALive website asked me what I
thought about the EAX patch
for FIFA99 ages ago when it was first released, but somehow or other, something always
cropped up so I never really got around to it again until today. Here are my thoughts on
the new patch.
"... the best thing about
this new patch was the ability to run the game in glorious 1024x768 with no slowdown
whatsoever on my Voodoo2 SLIs"
To me, the biggest improvement isn't in the sound,
although I have to admit it has been improved.
Actually, the best thing about this new patch was the ability to run the game in glorious
1024x768 with no slowdown whatsoever on my Voodoo2 SLIs. The detail on each player and on
the pitch is just so incredible, and looks way, way, way more impressive than Virtua
Striker 2 in the arcades (which has been my yardstick for visual quality in soccer games)
||"... in closeups,
such as in Action Replays, the quality of the crowd textures really, really bug me, and I
find myself pressing the Start button to skip the animation (instead of basking in the glory of
a great shot at the goal)"
Admittedly, my Voodoo2 SLIs are becoming a little
long in the tooth. The lores texture sizes which has plagued it for so long is getting
annoying now. As I mentioned before in my preview of Quake III IHV, the lores textures
(256x256?) used for V2s just make the images look grainy/blurred.
Most of the time, 256x256 will suffice, especially when they are
used judiciously. For instance, in Quake III, there are separate textures used for the
head/torso etc so each can remain pretty detailed. I suspect a similar technique was
applied for the individual players in FIFA99. However for the rest of the audience in the
stadium, a blanket texture was used to represent the crowds, and this translated to an
extremely blurred and ugly mess.
The crowd texture looks fine most of the time during the game
because the action cam I use places the camera sufficiently far away (better overall view
so you know where to pass the ball). However, in closeups, such as in Action Replays, the
quality of the crowd textures really, really bug me, and I find myself pressing the Start
button to skip the animation (instead of basking in the glory of a great shot at the goal)
I don't recall them being such a big problem when I used to run
the game at 640x480. Perhaps the switch to a higher resolution forced the game to
"stretch" the textures further.
Please note the gameplay in FIFA99 remains as good as before
(which was whooping ass already), and this graphical flaw is merely an annoyance that has
more to do with the Voodoo architecture than the game itself, but this is my column and I
can rant if I want to! =)
So.. what about the sound?
Well, Ee Siang was right. There is a nut
trapped in the audience of the Virtual Stadiums in FIFA99, whose screams can be heard for
miles over! =) But the truth is, when I watch a soccer game on telly, you can always hear
this one guy screaming his head off, so maybe EA's "If it's in the game, it's in the
Game" tagline is true after all.
"There is a nut
trapped in the audience of the virtual stadiums in FIFA99, whose screams can be heard for
The reverb added using EAX does bring out the "live"
feeling of being in a stadium, although this is nowhere near as impressive (nor
atmospheric) as the implementation of EAX in Half Life. If anything, you could have
achieved the same effect with the older FIFA98/World Cup98 by selecting one of the EAX
presets in Live's AudioHQ applets. I guess the reverb characteristics in the stadium
doesn't really change all that much, so there is no need for the dynamic EAX changes found
in Half Life.
I can't detect the use of quad speaker support, but then this
isn't really that important in a game like FIFA99 where all the action takes place in
front of you.
I guess EA's soccer engine has been fine-tuned after
so many revisions that it is now merely on an evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary)
path, with game designers merely tweaking the game's graphics and sound engine.
"... the ability to
run in resolutions above 640x480 only works with 3Dfx cards. D3D cards need not
This isn't such a bad thing considering FIFA98 was not only
gorgeous to look at and was great fun to play, to boot. But with this new patch, EA is
finally letting us run in much higher resolutions, and with a V2 setup, with no loss of
By the way, the ability to run in resolutions above 640x480 only
works with 3Dfx cards. D3D cards need not apply.
In a way, this is scary because I believe my Spectra 2500 could
match the Voodoo2 SLIs for speed, even up to 1024x768 for this game, but EA seems to have
a vested interest in promoting Voodoo cards. And with EA proclaiming its support for the
Playstation 2, over the Dreamcast, I can imagine that the DC will be similarly
disadvantaged as well. So much for now...