International League Soccer
Review of International League Soccer
Soccer games usually fall into one of two categories: a realistic simulation where chances must be skillfully carved out, or the arcade style pick-up-and-play goal fest. Japanese game developers Taito are a master of the latter with several stand-alone units still furnishing some of the more dusty arcades. Its almost four years since they moved into the console world with the lukewarm Super Football Champ on Playstation. While rivals were striving for the ultimate next generation sports sim featuring silky smooth motion captured visuals, multiple viewing perspectives, tight gameplay and top celebrity commentators, Super Football Champ was going back to the basics with chunky arcade graphics, single camera angle and goals galore.
We now see the release of Taitos first soccer game for the PS2 simply titled International League Soccer. You couldnt wish for a higher profile name to endorse your product than Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane and backed by Diadora, the international sports brand based in Italy, but does the game live up to its cover?
Lets see ?
Visually, International League Soccer has moved on a long way since those days of bulky polygon chunks trudging back and forth across a lifeless pitch. Smooth motion captured players featuring individual looks, shapes and sizes now weave their magic on a surface that actually looks something like grass. In a similar fashion to F1 racing games weather effects can change during the course of a game with some pretty nice fog, rain and snow effects. The consequence of these adverse conditions drastically affects the ball dynamics and player reactions, meaning heavy mud makes the ball sluggish and the grass gets more slippery. In fact during winter competitions condensation can actually be seen misting out of the players mouths during a game, which looks kind of eerie.
Before each match begins the camera pans the boundary of the smaller venue where cable cars, airplanes and trains can be seen weaving through the background scenery. Larger stadiums feature animated ball boys running the boundary, fidgeting coaching staff on the bench and even spectators walking up and down the aisles. On the downside most venues have those gigantic flags constantly flapping back and forth beckoning the question, just who is big and strong enough to wave these colossal emblems and what on earth does he eat for breakfast?
International League Soccer also slips up in the viewing department with a severe lack of camera perspectives, as there are only two selectable distances. I would have preferred if the far view had been a little further back, while passing accurate proves too difficult in the close up TV mode.
Theres the usual mixture of league, exhibition, PK and cup modes available for the 40 International teams to take part in, but the lack of real name players is a frustration that can only be eased my laboriously changing each of them in the Name Edit screen. As far as unique competitions are concerned its worth checking out the World Ranking Mode in which the player must win three matches when in control of an under-23 team. Experience points are awarded for crisp passing and scoring goals, while reaching higher levels allows access to the stronger nations. Completion of this mode results in a code being awarded that may be registered online and possibly winning you a prize.
The sound effects on and around the pitch are average, but the commentary is Godam awful. Theres the obvious delay before every name is mentioned, while the manner in which its all presented would be insulting to a Kindergarten class. Youd swear it was spoken by the Harry Enfield character, Mr. Chumley Warner, with top-hat obvious comments such as Is that thunder I hear? Yes I think it is!, or the surprised claim that Hes stolen the ball, hes stolen the ball! (Its actually called a tackle), or the smug Nice move - No foul, no whistle! It goes on and on and on. What an upper-class twit.
Of course all of the above is neither use nor ornament if the game doesnt play very well and sadly it doesnt. Control is very unresponsive, as the pressing of a single button seems to take an age to get a reaction. Often this leads to repeat tapping of the same pass button in urgency, so when the ball is finally stroked to another player the receiver quickly passes it straight back or directly to an opponent. Also the standard safe tackle (foot in) rarely comes off leaving you with no other option but to constantly commit dangerous sliding tackles. Furthermore I lost count of the times the player in control suddenly switches to another just before you get a tackle in. These are just a few examples where the lack of finesse makes International League Soccer a frustrating game to play.
As Mr. Chumley Warner would say - He shoots, He misses!
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'International League Soccer' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 9 International League Soccer in-game screenshot slideshow
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