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Was FIFA 98 the Most Influential Game Ever?

If you’re a football fan or hardcore gamer who grew up playing video games in the late 90s, chances are FIFA 98 holds a special place in your heart. As the 5th installment in EA Sports’ hit football series, FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 took the revolutionary gameplay mechanics of previous titles and amplified them to a whole different level.

Two decades on, it remains one of the most innovative, playable, and influential FIFA sports games ever. That’s partially thanks to its meticulous attention to detail, immersive graphics, and never-seen-before features. Whether you’re a big fan of FIFA games or distraught that EA pulled the plug on the series in 2022, here are 10 plausible reasons we can all agree Road to World Cup 98  left a lasting legacy that will live on for years, if not decades.

1. It All Started with the Riveting Intro Soundtrack

Right out of the gate, FIFA 98 takes you on a trip down memory lane with the unforgettable intro of Blur – Song 2. However, the soundtrack didn’t just end there. The lively techno beats from The Crystal Method and other artists flawlessly captured the electrifying atmosphere of the World Cup, injecting an extra dose of thrill into each and every match.

2. FIFA 98 Introduced 50 National Teams

For the first time in the FIFA series, Road to World Cup 98 featured 50 officially recognized international teams complete with their authentic kits and crests. The 1000+ real-life players included veterans and superstars like England’s David Beckham and Spain’s Raúl, alongside newbies— the most FIFA had ever packed into a single game. As a 90s football fanatic, this kind of breadth blew your mind and immersed you into the World Cup experience.

3. The Graphics and Presentation Were Light Years Ahead

While FIFA games were steadily improving year-on-year, FIFA 98 marked a huge leap forward in graphics and matchday presentation. Crisply animated players, slick menus and TV-style stat overlays made it feel like you were controlling lifelike players inside a broadcast. The multiple camera angles added drama while replays and close-ups showcased the new motion captured animations in all their glory.

4. Continued Popularity, Downloads, and Plays Speak Volumes

Admit it: we all consider Road to World Cup 98 one of EA’s greatest games ever released, up there with highly acclaimed titles like FIFA 16, FIFA 14 World Cup, and FIFA 15. Refined physics allow for more realistic passes, shots, and tackles. You can bend shots, perform sliding tackles, or float accurately lofted through balls just like the pros.

Featuring global superstars in their prime like Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo (no, not CR7) helped make the game popular to date, especially given continued downloads and online plays. As with free casino games, FIFA 98 can still be downloaded or played online, allowing fans of retro sports to bring this icon to life.

5. It Simulated Qualifying Campaigns for the First Time

FIFA games of the early and mid-90s randomly threw you into exhibition matches or tournaments. With FIFA 98’s Road to World Cup mode, you could guide your favorite national team through an entire World Cup qualifying campaign for the first time ever. This added seasons worth of context as you aimed to top your group. Truly a game-changer.

6. Commentary Helped Bring Matches to Life

FIFA 98 marked the debut of English commentary from renowned BBC broadcaster John Motson and Andy Gray who was cut in 2012. Their analysis, reactions and conversations helped bring the on-pitch action to life like never before. Hearing their shocked gasps after you scored a long-shot winner made the experience feel as TV-like as the visuals.

7. FIFA 98 Had 11 Official World Cup Stadia Down to the Details

One of FIFA 98’s coolest innovations was its usage of 11 officially licensed World Cup stadia from France ‘98. From Stade Vélodrome to Stade de France, each stadium had fine details like the tunnel, dressing rooms, and flags recreated with startling accuracy. This immersion made your World Cup experience incredibly realistic, right down to localized crowds. It was also a technical flex that signaled EA’s intent to capture the tournament flavor.

8. It Introduced Indoor Football with Real Physics

Not only did FIFA 98 include outdoor stadiums, but pioneering playable indoor football arenas too. Complete with barriers and dasher boards to contain the game’s new physics, matches adopted an aggressive arcade-like tempo. The crunching clashes as players bounced off walls encapsulated the intense indoor five-a-side experience authentically. It showcased an incredible variety in match styles for its era.

9. Manager Mode Allowed You to Guide a National Team

The expanded manager mode also sucks you in for hours on end. You now have full control in transferring players, tweaking formations, and determining training regimes as you guide your club to glory. The genius transfer system even allows buying legends like Romario or Bebeto to try winning that elusive Champions League trophy. Insane attention to detail makes every match carry high stakes.

10. It Started an Era of Smooth Controls

Aside from excellent graphics and addictive game modes, FIFA 98 shines due to its smooth, responsive controls. With complete command over on-field actions, you can replicate real football strategies. Strings of skill moves, clever interplay, and incisive attacking maneuvers just clicked. It’s supremely fun and intuitive maneuvering players like Zidane, Ronaldo and Batistuta at will.

There you have it – top reasons why FIFA 98 legacy lives on. It not only established EA’s dominant franchise but also propelled football gaming into the global spotlight. Its remarkable success inspired numerous developers like Activision Blizzard and Konami to join the genre, creating a healthy competition that benefited us gamers.

About Christian Silvestri

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Content Writer for FIFA Infinity. Passionate about football, FIFA and AC Milan!

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