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banner Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 15:19 GMT
Let's play: FIFA 2002
BBC Sport Online reviewer David Gibbon says FIFA 2002 could be the hottest game this Christmas.

Pick up your broomstick, Harry - FIFA 2002 has joined the race to become the top-selling video game this Christmas.

The title is as much of an institution as Coronation Street in the UK - and has consistently been a best-seller for EA Sports.

Format: PlayStation 2
Price: 44.99
Publisher: EA Sports
Genre: Football
Also Available: PC and PSone

The developers have really gone to town with this year's edition - making sure it is more realistic than ever.

Top of the updates is the new team-mate through runs, which can be used any time, enabling players to go past opponents with ease.

To make sure you get the pace of the ball spot on, a power meter appears to control the strength of shot.

EA Sports have been working hard to put FIFA 2002 in the same league as ISS - who release a new version of Pro Evolution Soccer later this month - and they have certainly narrowed the gap.

The whole passing system has had a face-lift, with all-new one-twos allowing for some very fancy play.

You can kick the ball to a nearby team-mate and it will automatically be passed back to you, which is great for winding your way through defenders.

FIFA 2002
The through-ball option leads to more goals

The tackling has also been improved, with the timing and angle of a challenge now much more crucial when the referee is watching.

The AI means that should you pull off a nasty tackle, there's a very good chance of a red card from the eagle-eyed official.

Curving the ball around the keeper is much easier too - simply by pressing the L2 or R2 buttons.

And visually, FIFA 2002 is a work of art.

The player textures, animation and even the crowd have all been done with style and flair.

Commentary comes once again from the BBC's very own John Motson. It's getting better - but is still far too repetitive to be completely convincing.

  Gibbon's verdict
Graphics: 90%
Playability: 88%
Sound: 78%
Realism: 87%
Overall: 88%

There's plenty of options for the discerning football fan, most notably the World Cup Qualifying which gives you the chance to see if you're as astute as Sven in taking England to the finals.

Although FIFA 2002 on the PSone does not come up to scratch, both the PC and PS2 versions of the game are the best in the genre.

And while Pro Evolution Soccer could well reclaim its place at the summit shortly, for now FIFA 2002 - both for playability and aesthetically - is the champion of football games.

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