Maybe it’s the feeling I got after playing Konami’s Winning Eleven 7
or the amount of advancements that EA Sports’ FIFA
series has made, but World Tour Soccer is suddenly the third best soccer game on the market. Just last year I would have chosen to play it over the FIFA title, but 989 simply hasn’t been able to keep up with the advancements of the market. For starters, it lacks the basic options that all of the other 989 titles have been incorporating in their 2003 lineup. This means that the nifty headset features, the online aspect and MLB 2005’s Eye Toy
compatibility is notably missing. What you do
get is a fundamentally sound game that is feature rich where it counts. While it doesn’t give you all of the thrills and bells of the other titles, it definitely still packs a punch where it matters, on the pitch.
I’ve always enjoyed the pacing of the WTS titles and this year’s game is no exception. All of the action on the field is still as realistic and intense as it was before but that’s just it, it’s almost the exact same game as last year’s. Of course this also brings back the problems that gamers had with last year’s game as well. That lag that occurs between the moment that the button is pressed and the action is performed is still here and it seems to have actually gotten worse. You can literally stack up a bunch of commands and watch your character perform them as the time passes. Making things more difficult is the fact that you have to wait for an animation to finish before you can perform the next move. With the game moving at a relatively blistering pace it makes things really difficult to handle. You have a little more control over all of the action but the movements feel kind of sluggish and unintuitive.
There are a number of modes available for you to showcase your skills in. In addition to the usual exhibition mode is the career and challenge modes. Career mode lets you build up a school club from the ground up while Challenge mode lets you showcase your skills against the AI. Not only do you have to score, but you have to do it in style to rack up the points. The better you perform the more points you’ll accumulate. As an added reward you can obtain a code where you can enter your scores on a worldwide leader board.
I had some problems with the AI in last year’s game and I feel that the issues still exist. Defenders have a large tendency of playing the ball carrier instead of a spot of the field. There have been far too many instances where I’ve seen my last two defenders collapse on the ball while another striker runs behind them for an open goal. In real soccer the guys play a spot on the field and make the strikers come to them instead of the other way around. In here it’s simply too easy to bait out a defender and then lob it to another striker as he leaves his post. WTS is an offensive minded game where the goals come a bit too easily for my tastes.
Unlike most of this year’s soccer titles, WTS is deceptively beautiful. During the course of normal gameplay it’s really easy to pass off the game’s graphics as bland and mundane. And it’s not without good cause, some of the textures appear to be washed out and the models aren’t too appealing from a distance, but get close up and you can really see where the model designers begin to shine. During the bumper scenes and intermittent sequences you can see all of the fine details on the characters. Faces are nicely modeled, uniforms have wrinkles and ruffles in all of the right places and the models are pretty beefy.
As is the case with most 989 titles the audio is quite inviting. The crowds seem to behave rather realistically, springing to life whenever an exciting occurrence is going on and keeping themselves entertained whenever the action subsides. I enjoyed the commentary but it doesn’t really seem like the announcers are too enthused with it all. Also there’s no Dolby Pro Logic II support so you lose a bit without the surround sound experience.
In the end WTS is a decent soccer game that manages to maintain the status quo. It won’t blow you away like Konami’s game will and it won’t dazzle you like EA’s game, but it definitely gets the job done for the budget-minded footy fan. The career mode is worth checking out for hardcore fans, but there are better soccer games for you to throw your cash at.