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In Memory
Sean Pettibone




      

 

 

 


 

 

World Tour Soccer 2002 is a decent, if bare bones simulation of the sport on the PS2. While many have complained of the hit-or-miss quality of 989 Sports titles in the past, this is a pretty decent game. While this is not as comprehensive as some competing titles, is still a satisfying and fun sports title. While itís far from the most polished or deep soccer title on the market, it still has above average graphics, solid controls and most importantly the deep strategic play soccer fans crave. The Laser looks at WTS and decides if it strikes with a stunning goal or overshoots the net.

World Tour Soccer 2002 was originally released in Europe, and is a decent title. Despite the fact that it doesnít have the special features and roster of teams that you would typically find in more comprehensive games, this is still a solid simulation that offers plenty of depth and challenge. The game features multiple play modes including several unique styles such as a tournament mode and a quirky selection of European teams that arenít included in most other titles. One of the most surprising things included in this package is that you can play in National leagues with individual clubs featured as well as school level teams, which is something a many other sports titles donít have the room to feature. The roster of players is quite impressive, as it should be since the game sports the FIFPRO license of professional players, meaning that more than 5000 real-world players are included in the game.

In all the game features a whopping 300 different teams, each of which can be customized to your specifications. WTS also includes a robust national league system where you can play a regular season of matches and try to win each nationís national cup Ė itís quite exciting to play through one of these rounds and try to get to the end. One interesting thing about the game is that it allows you to play with retro teams that feature the clubís classic lineups and uniforms. This is another unique aspect of the game that sets it apart from the pack. This is exciting because itís not a gimmick - the retro teams allow you to play with the same depth and strategy as you would with a current club giving this aspect of the game a depth and authenticity thatís rewarding and enjoyable. There are also the usual practice, single match and tournament modes where you can play through to the championship. These features are nice, but there is still a paucity of in game variables, which makes things limited from this aspect. World Tour Soccer also allows the player to create their own custom teams, which is a cool feature. Here you can select players, change uniform colors, adjust your play strategy and trade with other teams to make your roster stronger. The really cool thing is that you can run custom matches once youíve created your own club and see how your custom teams stack up against them.

The controls are well-designed and intuitive because they make good use of the Dual Shock controller. In addition to the standard passing, kicking and dribbling, the controls also allow the player perform more advanced techniques such as headers, shimmys, step-overs, rainbow kicks, and more to outsmart their opponents, which adds some depth and strategy to what could have been a generic soccer title. The versatility thatís offered is great but not all players can perform all these special moves with the same skill, and thereís a limited number of moves, despite how intuitive they are to perform. You can also use the Sprint button to give the selected player and added speed boost. WTSí depth of moves is impressive and lends the game an authentic feel in the strategic elements. The button configurations are decent, making the play come alive. The opposing teams are surprisingly intelligent and make surprisingly difficult opponents. Not surprisingly, WTS emphasizes the defensive nature of the game, which makes possession crucial while also increasing the importance of goal tending and protecting the goalie. Blocking your opponents from taking shots and tackling opponents are the two most important tasks to perform in order to win.

From a technical standpoint, World Tour Soccerís graphics engine does a fairly impressive job at recreating the feel of European Pro soccer. The visuals shine thanks to good player models and sharp looking stadiums enhanced by excellent light sourcing and above average cinemas with the spectators in the stands looking particularly detailed. The presentation is highly polished in this department but isnít without its flaws. The game has only a few fixed camera positions but the action is never really hindered by these angles. The player animations are decent but their movements and reactions arenít as polished or realistic as those seen in other games. While the game features a decent replay features, you can forget about seeing bullet time replays where you can start and stop, and angles at a whim. Itís not as flashy as other games, but WTS isnít excessively bad by any means, and the title gives the player a realistic sense of watching an actual game. The breathless in-game commentary and sounds of crazed fans in the stands enhance the experience, making you feel like youíre in the center of a match. While the game offers a large number of teams to choose from, American soccer fans will be disappointed to know that the MLS teams arenít included. Unfortunately, while itís got a lot of cool features, there are some key disadvantages that the title canít really shake. Most importantly, despite the impressive number of teams, itís still a bit Euro-centric, forgiven given its roots as a European-designed title. That however, doesnít change the fact that itís not as comprehensive as EAís standard setting FIFA series. From that end, itís disappointing but this is still a solidly designed sim with excellent visuals, good controls, and challenging gameplay. While the causal fan should opt for FIFA, this is an excellent game that will appeal to the hardcore soccer fan looking for more esoteric teams and features.





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Sega Soccer Slam (Gamecube)
FIFA 2002 (Gamecube)
NCAA Final Four 2002 (Playstation2)

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