Soccer is an exciting game, and with the exception of the United States, one that is insanely popular all over the world. The fans are fanatical, and the competition is brutal. While people may argue over its proper name, none can deny the passion of the game. It is a 90-minute battle of speed, strategy, skill and endurance, where the utterance of the single word “goal” can ignite an entire stadium like no other. Translating all of this emotion into a video game must be tough, and while 989 Sports gives it a go with their latest iteration of World Tour Soccer 2006, they seem to come up just a little short in capturing the essence of the sport.
World Tour Soccer 2006 (WTS 2006) has a few things going for it, one of which is variety. There are an insane number of world teams to choose from, featuring over 19,000 real-life players. Well, 19,001 if you utilize the EyeToy “cameo creator” to add yourself to the game. The game also offers a choice of four different languages; English, French, Italian and Spanish, and stadiums from all over the world, making this a truly international affair.
Along with a truly global flavor, WTS 2006 also has a deep pocket of customization, from custom teams to uniform avatars. There are several different difficulty settings, along with an assortment of game types to choose from, including exhibition, career and challenge modes, all offering a different experience.
WTS isn’t a bad game; it just doesn’t have any real joie de vivre, which translates to “joy of life” for our non French-speaking contingent. There is no gusto, no “go for the goal” attitude. Your teammates aren’t exactly World Cup material, nor are the AI opponents, and both lack aggressiveness. On the attacking front, opponents rarely try and drive the ball in side the box, and instead opt to launch a shot from behind the eighteen. On the defensive end, players will seem to huddle around the person with the ball, but don’t attempt to challenge the ball. The only example of decent AI is the goalkeepers, who tend to make some fantastic saves.
The control scheme in WTS makes it a pick-up-and-play kind of game. The basic skills are easy to learn, with a bit more practice needed for the more advanced skills. Goal kicks, corner kicks, and throw-ins can be aimed manually, or you can press a button to kick/throw the ball to a certain location on the field. While the overall control system works well, it could be tweaked a bit to allow for more accuracy.
The graphics in WTS 2006 are about average, with decent character models. The ball physics are realistic, but some of the character movements appear choppy. The replay camera is frustrating, showing the replay from awkward angles and cutting off the action leading up to the goal. It will show you the ball soaring into the net from three different angles, but it won’t show the fantastic pass or fancy dribbling that led to the goal.
The sound is average as well, with sub-par commentating that is often inaccurate and repetitive. The commentator will get excited about any shot, even if it misses the goal by a kilometer. The soundtrack is pretty good, with some catchy tunes that are nice to have in the background.
WTS 2006 isn’t a bad attempt at a footie game, but being up against EA’s FIFA series and Konami’s Winning Eleven franchise makes it difficult for this game to shine. There isn’t much that makes this title stand out from the other big name soccer games that are available. While it offers a plethora of options and variety, I don’t feel that alone is enough to sway consumers in 989’s direction. Without solid gameplay, this title misses the mark.
- Gameplay: 7
- It may be fun for a few games against your mates, but doesn’t offer anything to make it stand out from the rest of the field.
- Graphics: 6.5
- A bit rough around the edges, with choppy movement.
- Sound: 6.1
- Sometimes inaccurate commentary, with repetitive phrases.
- Replay: 6
- With the ability to unlock extra content and multi-player for up to 8 there is plenty to keep you busy.
- Overall: 7
- Great variety & depth but still ends up being a goal short of a hat trick.
– J. Paradise