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The game-play in FIFA World Cup 2002 played almost exactly the same as FIFA 2002
, which was released a mere 6 months before this game was. The ball was still using a primitive physics engine which was called "The Piece Of String Engine" by players worldwide, due to the fact that when the player is dribbling, the ball never leaves 3 inches from their feet at any given moment. The A.I has four levels of difficulty:
- Amateur ----- The easiest difficulty setting, the A.I would rarely tackle and would give away penalties on a regular basis. Their shooting was inaccurate and when dribbling they rarely sprint.
- Semi Pro ----- While still easy, the A.I has made improvements. They will rarely foul the player, but will still shoot inaccurately and makes mistakes running.
- Pro ----- The biggest leap between difficulties. The A.I never makes stupid fouls, and are deadly at close range, however they still apply primitive tactics.
- World Class ----- The hardest difficulty setting. The A.I will score almost every time within 30 Yards. Their tactics were advanced and they would be fast on counter attacks.
This was also the start of a system that was effectively a weapons system. If a player was especially renowned for being an exceptional passer, their passes would curve past defenders. If they were especially known for being an incredible runner, they would run faster than anyone else on the pitch. It managed to strike a balance between making a difference to game-play and just breaking the game.
There was no create-a-player, even though it was present in it's predecessor. The reason for this is unknown, although it has been widely accepted that they wanted to keep the national squads the same as in the actual world cup.
The music was fully orchestral, the intro movie concentrated just as much on the music as the actual football. Whenever a goal is scored one of 7 orchestral scores are played, seemingly at random.
During the start of the movie, with players coming out of the tunnel a different score is played, depending on what stage in the world cup the player is at. When the player wins the world cup an entirely separate orchestral music is played, this music only appears when the player wins the world cup.