Every year itís the same: hype over the latest tweaks; fanboy anticipation; and ultimately, acceptance of an admittedly great product always seemingly flawed in some way. While Iím still going to gripe about tiny nuances and bugs, I must say, FIFA 2002 is a truly excellent game.

The usual vast array of club and international teams is present, along with expected game modes such as exhibitions, leagues, and tournaments. As we head to the World Cup in 2002 (for which EA will release a new game), you can play through the qualifying tournament but not the actual World Cup itself. Winning in this mode unlocks one of five other tournament options, such as the European Championships.

On the gameplay front, the new passing system lets you punt the ball into space and relies heavily on some new tactical AI. It works extremely well when youíre attacking, creating some fantastic-looking free-flowing movement, but when youíre on the receiving end, your defenders arenít nearly as aware of spaces and attacking runs.

The improved player animations are well varied but seem a little slower than in the past, not transitioning as fluidly as you mash away at the gamepad buttons.

Overall, though, the graphics are phenomenal. The player models are incredibly detailed, and the textures of the jerseys and even the grass are amazing. Coupled with the animation, the game looks better than real life.

Sure, a few tweaks are needed ó you canít do special moves on most joypads, for example ó but FIFA 2002 is a must-own for soccer fans.