European PC cover featuring David Ginola
Extended Play Productions
Perfect Entertainment (Saturn)
Rage Software (SNES)
XYZ Productions (Genesis)
Tiertex Design Studios (Game Boy)
Black Pearl Software (Game Boy)
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer, Multiplayer online|
FIFA 97 (also known as FIFA Soccer 97) is a video game developed by EA Canada and published by Electronic Arts based on the game of football (soccer). It was released for the PC on June 24, 1996 and versions for PlayStation, SNES, Mega Drive and Sega Saturn followed.
FIFA 97 was the fourth game in the FIFA Series and the second to use the Virtual Stadium engine. Unlike the first game to use the engine, FIFA 97 features polygonal players as opposed to the 2D sprites used in FIFA Soccer '96. The engine however received complaints for being sluggish in the PC and PlayStation versions.
David Ginola (then a Newcastle United player) graced the cover of the game in the European market. He also was used for motion capture for the polygonal models in the game. Bebeto (the Brazilian striker) was featured on the cover for the Americas and Asia-Pacific markets.
The main new feature of the game other than the motion capture was the indoor football mode. There were six ways to play the game, including outdoor and indoor, as well as action and simulation modes. 32-bit AI was used, as well as motion blending technology which led to some of the sharpest graphics in any football game of the time. Here, it was possible to play six-a-side football in an indoor arena with the ball bouncing off the walls meaning there is no throw-ins and therefore a much higher paced game. Leagues available in the game included the English, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Scottish leagues and the Malaysian M-league and other sides, as well as the American A-League clubs with fictional teams, composed of the game's creators such as Bruce McMillan and Penny Lee. Commentary is provided by John Motson and Andy Gray while the presenter is Des Lynam. Multiplayer games are also possible with up to 20-players via LAN and 8-players using modem. The game trailer's tagline was "FIFA 97, it will blow you away." Most European domestic leagues were featured in the game, including the English Premier League, but only teams from each nation's highest division were playable. The English clubs featured in the game were those who played in the 1995-96 Premier League. It was also possible to field custom teams made up of players from various real teams. However, these teams could only be played with in friendly matches.
The game's commentary included the names of the majority of players on the game, and the names of the teams were also said by John Motson. To keep the commentary from sounding too robotic, EA Sports recorded Motson saying each phrase four different times, each time in a different tone. Several errors plagued the game's commentary, such as John Millar of Heart of Midlothian being referred to as Joe Miller, who in fact plays for Aberdeen on the game. Also, at times when a goal kick was awarded, the commentator would say that the kick had been given to the opposing team. Another similar error was that a kick-off would be referred to as a cross, as well as a goal in the first minute being described as a goal "that would win it surely". On rare occasions, when the game was being introduced by Des Lynam, the name of a player involved in the game would be said by John Motson, instead of Lynam saying the names of both teams. For example, a match between Partick Thistle F.C. and Kilmarnock F.C. would sometimes be introduced by Lynam saying "Welcome to the big match between-", and Motson's voice interjecting with "MacPherson."
The pronunciation of certain players' names would change depending upon whether they were performing attacking or defensive duties, such as Roy Aitken being referred to as "Akin" if he made a tackle or clearance. Similarly, Alessandro Del Piero, who was called "Del Piero Togon" on the game, was referred to as "Del Piero Tognon", followed by a small hiccuping noise when he performed a tackle.
Both Play Magazine in Issue 15 and Official UK PlayStation Magazine in Issue 15 rated the PlayStation version of the game similarly with a score of 70% and 7/10 respectively. Play when comparing it with FIFA 96 commented that it was "Graphically better, but plays worse". GameSpot scored the PC version 8.2/10.
- "On the 'Ead Son!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (1): 120–2. October 1995.