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We heard a few weeks ago that Konami were \'SOON\' to release their brilliant soccer sim, International Superstar Soccer (ISS), onto Playstation 2. Now this amazing news certainly set us thinking… Surely ISS had already been released on the PS2 format as a launch title? I couldn\'t possibly have imagined reviewing that extremely disappointing first effort on the new console… could I? So what\'s going on? (This could get complicated!)
Apparently previous ISS games for the Psone (Pro 97/98 and Evolution) were all developed by KCET (Konami Tokyo), while the more arcadey feel of the Nintendo 64 soccer series had been the work of another Konami division, KCEO. For some strange reason Konami, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the first ISS game to be released on the PS2 would be produced by KCEO (the N64 crew). Hence an inferior arcade game that fell way below the standards set by the awesome Evolution on PSone.
The plot thickens!
It now appears that KCET have not only produced their own interpretation of ISS for PS2, but also this sequel to Pro Evolution for PSone gamers. To further complicate matters, KCEA Honolulu (Konami US) have renamed the PS2 (KCET) title to ESPN MLS ExtraTime.
In summary… ignore the current ISS on PS2 and grab a copy of this far superior soccer goodie for PSone.
The extremely short intro doesn\'t really make the heart beat flutter, neither does the \'wam, bam, thank you mam\' title music. But then we\'re not here to look at the mantelpiece… so lets stoke the fire!
On first glance the game menu serves up the usual feast of league and cup match modes (read Features). I recommend your first visit should take in the Information Post where time has been allotted to pre-warn you of changes in control, gameplay and tactics. Learn such niceties as… a few button configurations have been changed, injuries are now included and can take the star player out for several games (watch out Shearer!), and (get this Ronaldo lovers) the Nationality of any player in the game may now be changed. Be warned, once registered he will only be able to play for his new national team and not his original. Nice one Konami… err… Tokyo!
Rather than churn out a \'mirror\' sequel with a few simple tweaks and updates I am pleased to inform you that there have been some terrific changes to the game format. The Master League makes a welcome return to the fold and now includes 24 teams spread over two divisions. Start from the basement and scrape together a few measly points (only half the value in the lower division) as you strive to reach the top league to take on the \'big boys\'. The inclusion of the relegation/promotion issue really expands on the gameplay and will be warmly received by ISS fans, past and present.
Chris James and Terry Butcher introduce the action and I\'m afraid to say that it remains as similar to the last attempt with….. those…. long…… pauses…… between words. The crowd reactions to the flow of play are again excellent. It really does help create a \'big game\' atmosphere when the ball moves nearer to the goal the intense volume of their cheering gradually raises to a crescendo.
Graphically there are not many major changes in appearance from the last effort, but then if it ain\'t broken, don\'t fix it! What I did find strange was that little bug in the flow of the game remained intact and unfixed. It\'s the one where the CPU team kicks off and passes the ball back to the center-half who then freezes on the spot momentarily. Same engine?
Camera angles have again been improved. If you enjoy an \'up close and personal\' perspective then the nearest camera angle zooms right in and will be perfect. There are nine alternatives offering something for everyone with a couple of new widescreen perspectives covering almost a third of the playing area, which are perfect for spotting team members to slot a ball through to. Goals may be slow motion replayed from any desired angle by combining shoulder, directional and face buttons allowing the camera to sweep around a full 360, while concentrating on the movements of specific strikers.
Control once again feels comfortable, as a short pass will usually find a teammate, while a long pass depends entirely on accuracy. However, neat passing movements will only advance you so far up the field before a through ball must be played perfectly through the last line of defenders for your striker to run onto. Once you get the hang of this tactic your forwards will stand a chance of breaking through the tightest offside traps and the toughest teams defense.
To reach the finer aspects of gameplay tactics and formation must be implemented as if this were a management game. Diving straight into play using the default settings will only get you so far. It\'s amazing how seemingly unbeatable teams can be overcome by a bit of tight man-marking, choosing the correct formation for each team played and applying varied strategies over periods of the game.
Overall ISS Pro Evolution 2 is undoubtedly a winner… just don\'t expect massive changes in direction. It retains all the best aspects of the original, but offers much more in terms of gameplay.
· Match Mode: Exhibition and Penalty Kick match with other players or CPU
· League Mode: Play out an International season with 16 teams from across the globe
· Cup Mode: Enter a regional or International Cup competition · Master League: Battle it out against 23 other teams spread over two divisions
· Practice Mode: Improve your skills and check your formation and system
· Edit players, view the trophy gallery and tweak your controller
· New features include the all new chip shots, cancel pass action, realistic injuries, choose your captain, new formation data manager with 15 save spots and a much improved algorithm (the key to player\'s movement).
· Change a players Nationality
· New format for All-Star teams
2 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 2 Players (without Multi-tap)
Up to 4 Players (with Multi-tap)
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'ISS Pro Evolution 2' 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.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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