Game Review Data
Game Title
FIFA 2004
EA Sports/Exient UK
Cartridge Save, Multipalyer, NGC Connectivity
Soccer Sim



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FIFA 2004 is EA's second installment of its FIFA licensed soccer game for the GBA. Last year's edition, FIFA 2003, received pretty good reviews, and wisely enough, EA has maintained the same developers, Exient UK, to helm the 2004 edition. According to the feature list, the "action in FIFA 2004 is deeper than ever with advanced levels of player detail and responsiveness." Well, this remains to be seen of course, and so without further ado, let's get on with the review.

Screen Shots


When you start the game, you are given the following options: Friendly, Multiplayer Mode, Competitions, Options and Nintendo GameCube Link. I couldn't try the GameCube link options, but I'm told that it unlocks hidden teams and competitions (possibly the ones that are locked off at the start i.e. Americas Club Championship, International Cup & Ladder Tournament). I'm also unable to try the multiplayer mode, although according to the manual, it supports two players over a link cable.

FIFA 2004 doesn't lack options, and there are indeed plenty to configure the game as you wish. There are 4 levels of AI skill and the good thing is that you can set it up individually. For example, if the goalkeeper's skill level suck but the defense is fine, you can adjust them individually to balance it out. Great! Another option allows you to turn "wind" on or off which effects your lobs and high kicks (an option which isn't available on the home console or PC version). There are also options for which overlays you want displayed and whether you want the music and sound effects turned on or off. Lastly, there are the control options, which lets you choose between 2 layouts of controls. You can also if you want, turn on or off "auto switch", a feature which sets it up so that the AI chooses which player you control based on your location and proximity to the ball. One thing I noticed was that the option for the longest half time available is only twenty minutes and not the standard 45 minutes. Soccer purist shouldn't be disappointed, however, because as I will explain later, the pace of action in FIFA 2004 more than makes up for the shorter half times.

For a quick game, the Friendly option is your best bet. Here you will be able to control any one of the over 300 teams available (from the 16 featured leagues, plus other world class clubs and the international sides) for a single match. It is in the Competitions mode, however, where the real challenge and fun of soccer begins. Here you can play in one of the 16 licensed leagues or in one of the 2 cups which represent the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. There is also 3 locked cups, as mentioned earlier, which are unlocked via the GameCube Linkup. There are 2 battery save slots for your competitions to be saved in and the saves are automatic after each match. One great thing I noticed about the completions mode is the ability to watch the highlights from other matches in your league from that week of play. What a great idea and also a big bonus for GBA owners since this is another feature that's not available in the home console or PC version.

FIFA 2003 for the GBA is well known for its high paced soccer action and I'm glad to say that this is also true for the 2004 edition. The fast arcade style elements really make for exciting soccer and as I said earlier on, the 25 minute half times are thus much more suited to this style of play.


The controls for FIFA 2004 have been tweaked and are now more precise and responsive. Free kicks and goal kicks for example are targeted by the R button, so you don't have to guess the correct trajectory or where your players are. The AI too seems improved and will gives you a good challenge when placed on "Professional" mode, although talented GBA soccer players might want to try the AI on "World Class" mode. In my opinion, for a more authentic match, players should choose to keep the goalkeeper's AI skill either on "Professional" or "World Class" mode, if not, scoring goals will be all too easy (kudos again to the developers for allowing individual AI skill levels). All in all, I only have one minor complaint about the controls in FIFA 2004. When you're really close to another player and pressing the conservative tackle button, it's hard to tell when you are in control of the ball and if you are, the ball gets shot down the field. I think the developers could have fixed this by simply shading in the player indicator showing that you have control of the ball.


The menu system has changed a lot since last year's release and is now updated to reflect the changes made to the PC and Console versions. On the GBA, the menus now looks slicker and easier to navigate. In-game graphics have also been updated for 2004 and are now cleaner and nicer to look at, including the in-game score clock and player indicator. Another thing I noticed that the GBA version has and the home console and PC version don't, is a score clock that actually tells you how much stoppage time you'll be playing. Player animation in FIFA 2004 is also well done and even though it's only maximum 20 pixels per player, they still look good and well defined enough to clearly tell what is it they're doing on the pitch.

Sound & Music

The sound and music in FIFA 2004 is simply great! Everything works nicely to heighten the playing experience and this includes the little clips of football chants and perfectly timed sound effects. Packed in this little cartridge, you will find the four officially licensed music tracks that are also found in the EA Trax on the home console and PC versions. Despite the compression, the sound quality of these tracks is amazing.

Final Comments

Soccer aficionados might argue that the arcade style of FIFA 2004 is a let down. In my opinion, EA actually did well to make it that way for the GBA. After all, the GBA is a portable platform with a small screen and not at all suited for a soccer game with loads of statistics, in-depth micro-management and true-to-life soccer rules and play mechanics. A soccer game that's easy to pick-up and play is what most people want in a portable platform and FIFA 2004 is exactly what the doctor ordered. Aside from this, FIFA 2004 also boasts other great features like real players, real teams, good graphics, solid controls, multiplayer and a variable AI that's challenging enough to keep you interested. In my review, I've also discovered three features for the GBA version that's not available for the home console or PC version. So what more could you ask for? Soccer buffs and even first timers will like FIFA 2004. I did and I'm sure you will too.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.