|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||THREE LIONS|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Distributor:||Take 2 Interactive||1-2 Player|
|Game Type:||Sports Sim||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||May 1998||Standard Joypad|
Setting the Scene
As the 1998 World Cup Tournament fast approaches prepare to be swamped by a wide assortment of merchandise of which the vast majority will have nothing whatsoever to do with the sport of soccer. Expect to be force fed promotion for official World Cup lawnmowers, authentic FIFA hair dryers, a set of six France 98 tumblers.... Genuine fans who do not have a cat in hells chance of visiting the finals in France (unless they win a competition on a box of T-Bags or purchase 600 tins of semolina and send in the labels) will have to settle down in front of their TV screens with a four-pack and watch televisions interpretation of the event. Meanwhile, millions of Playstation gamers will be scanning the shelves of stores and hire shops seeking the ultimate World Cup video soccer simulation that will allow them to mimic their hero's success or indeed alter the course of history. You see, there are five World Cup soccer related titles about to hit the stores but which will stick around as long as Ronaldo's Brazil and, equally important, which will slide into the pits along with Ali Daei's Iran.
Three Lions is the official England Team soccer game for France 98, although the title may change depending on the country it is purchased. Check out the list below. ITALY Bomba 98 SPAIN Mundiales 98 FRANCE Pro Foot Contest 98 REST OF THE WORLD Golden Goal
Three Lions opens up with two minutes of breathtaking action that superbly blends live video footage with in-game animation. Ince leaps into the air to win the ball in midfield and heads it down to Gazza. In an instant he passes it to the polygon Beckham who tears down the wing and then floats a beautiful ball directly into the path of the real life Alan Shearer. In a split second the now animated No.9 hammers the ball home past the helpless keeper before switching back to live footage for the after goal celebrations. The intro is very reminiscent of FIFA 98 and has a pulsating backing track to match. After visiting the simply designed option screen where your team is selected the players will now run out onto the pitch, begin to limber up and perform a few stretching exercises. The initial idea was good but it somehow looks very 'put on', as if it was thrown together as an afterthought. Even the players look slightly embarrassed as they halfheartedly go through the motions. Suddenly they all break off from aerobic practice and gather together for a team photo-style pose. This allows you to get a closer look at the real player's faces, which have apparently been photo mapped onto the models. Hmmm. Ugly bunch. I instantly recognized Englands David Batty only to later realize that he wasn't even on the team sheet. The rest of them could all have been wearing Peter Beardsley masks from what I could gather. Once the game is underway the players seem to move quite fluidly, especially the keepers who athletically fling themselves across the goal-mouth to palm away a shot heading straight towards the top corner. A press of the Turbo button sees your player slightly lean forward as his pace increases which gives the overall appearance of that little extra effort being offered. It is only when they are standing around that they begin to look a little constipated (as if they are about to squat). We can finally applaud that developers have at least got those camera angles under wraps. It appears that the days when up to ten camera positions were up for selection, but none seemed quite right, are long gone. Five on offer of which four are playable. If you are looking for graphical comparisons then Three Lions is a vast improvement over Taito's very average Super Football Champ but falls way short of Konami's ISS Pro.
Sounds and Effects
The music that accompanies the brilliant intro is the excellent 100 Mile High City from Ocean Colour Scene taken directly from their hit album Marchin Already. No complaint here. I'm not quite sure about the sound effects though. Rather than opt for the standard big name commentator Three Lions has the players talking, not only to each other, but also to the referee. Now this is dangerous ground because unless you are completely blind most of us can lip-read the type of banter that goes on during a football match and it is definitely not 'Man On', 'Right Side' and 'Run with it'. There is the occasional decision call from the referee and combined with the constant roar of the crowd. I suppose it is better than the arcade commentary found in ISS Pro, but I would have preferred the option to switch the verbals off myself had it not been to my liking.
Three Lions features over 50 international teams from past present and future. Each of this years World Cup finalist are selectable with the numbers made up with non qualifying teams from Europe, South America, North America, Africa and Australasia. Sadly there are only two modes of play - Friendly and Tournament. Friendly is your usual Exhibition match between any two nations in a single player game against the CPU, a head to head against a mate or a cooperative partnership against the CPU. World Cup Tournament is based on the rules from this years Finals with an option to tinker around with the draw between Seeded, Random and World Draw. On winning the Tournament mode you will be offered a cheat code that reveals a selection of historic teams from the past. There are three levels of difficulty, which are Youth, Pro and World Class. Game length varies between four to thirty minutes, which may be played during the day or under the floodlights in the evening. Offsides may be switched off for a more free scoring game of soccer. That's it. Simple options for a pick-up-and-play type of game but beware of the new strict FIFA rules in which tackles from behind has been outlawed and will often result in a red card being shown. Once a team is selected you may then adjust your formation and line up from the full squad of 22 real name players. Each is rated over six skill points speed, vision, dribbling, passing, shooting and one touch. The developers of Three Lions have decided to go for a simple, but effective, control system. You don't need to remember multi-button combinations to perform over head kicks or intricate dribbling and passing moves because none of these moves are in their repertoire. A single press of each face button offers a shoot, pass, turbo boost and chip during offence and slide tackle, poke tackle, turbo and player switch when defending. The shoulder buttons are used for an intentional foul, through ball and tactical change during play. The one action I struggled to come to terms with was the all-important 'shoot-at-target' system. To score a goal you must quickly line up a moving archery target to the precise part of the goal where you want the ball to end up before firing a shot. Considering that the target may not be visible on screen at the precise time you wish to shoot proves frustrating in many situations. The only way that I found to combat this annoying feature was to quickly press down on the directional pad before each shot thus guaranteeing my shot would not fly way over the bar.
Value for Money
You have to ask yourself if you are only interested in buying the best soccer game around at the time or would you accept one of the also rans. Three Lions does not reach the high standard set by Actua Soccer 2 and FIFA 98 but is still acceptable and has that instant appeal which should hold the attention of the younger audience.
competition for the top World Cup video game will be fiercely contested
over the coming weeks. Being the first released Three Lions has an
obvious advantage but I would recommend that you refrain from rushing
out to purchase this title until all rivals have been judged.