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From Kick Off World of Soccer - wikickoff

Actua Soccer is the name of a football video game series developed by Gremlin Interactive and part of their Actua Sports series. It spawned 4 titles from 1995 to 1999, excluding the official video game of the Euro 96. It was the direct competitor of the FIFA series during the earlier years of the franchise, but ultimately lost to it due to Electronic Arts' better marketing abilities.

Its biggest claim to fame was its full 3D engine, used for the first time in a football game. Although other games applied graphics used a 3D field (used by several games for the SNES), players were commonly sprites, but in Actua Soccer players were also polygonal. While adding graphically beyond what all games done before, the gameplay suffered from that. Featuring only national teams, a version with English Premier League teams named Actua Soccer: Club Edition was released in 1996. Barry Davies assured in-game commentary from the first until the last game in the series.

Actua Soccer 2 was one of the many titles released between late 1997 and 1998 to capitalize on the 98 World Cup, and once again, included only national teams, but a more polished engine (optimized for 3D cards) and a new scenarios mode assured good sales and mostly positive reviews, losing only to FIFA' 98. Barry Davies was joined by Trevor Brooking, and the game featured English international and captain Alan Shearer both in the cover, but also for interviews about the game, and finally Michael Owen and Simon Tracey assured motion capture. It was bundled with Creative Technology's Voodoo 2 graphic cards, which helped to its widespread distribution and popularity.

Finally, Actua Soccer 3 arrived in late 1998 after EA clinched two crucial hits with both FIFA'98 and World Cup 98, leaving few margin of error. For the first time, both club and national teams were present, plus cheat teams (such as an all-girl team) and joke teams like in Sensible Soccer. While its predecessor was criticized for the absence of clubs, AS3 featured a total of 25 leagues, much more than most games still have, and only comparable to Sensible World of Soccer. Graphics used a slightly improved version of the AS2 engine, but with much improved weather graphics. Trevor Brooking was replaced by Martin O'Neill in commentaries. Again, it wasn't marketed as well as FIFA '99, and despite some better features, EA's ability in that sector and more responsive gameplay didn't managed allowed the game to top the charts again.

After Infogrames acquired Gremlin in 1999, the Sheffield software house still developed what can be considered a fifth game in the series: UEFA Challenge.

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