Sony's 989 Sports returns to the pitch with their latest football title World Tour Soccer 2005 for the PlayStation2. With more than 900 real-world teams, and thousands of real players, the game is quite comprehensive. WST 2005's multiple modes offer plenty of variety while a more intuitive control interface gives the gameplay a smooth flow, allowing for better ball control. The graphics look impressive as well, and the complete package marks a significant step forward for the series. While it lacks the polish and depth of other soccer titles like FIFA and Winning Eleven, WTS 2005 is a solid soccer title with abundant features and modes that should satisfy fans of the sport and casual gamers alike.
While soccer isn't exactly the national pastime here in the US, the sport's been on an upswing over the past few years, and this growing popularity has manifested itself with numerous soccer titles coming to market domestically. Developed by Sony's London studio, World Tour Soccer 2005 is an excellent PS2 sports title that should please fans of the sport, offering a solid and accessible soccer experience. As the third installment in this burgeoning franchise, this year's model offers several upgrades and new features that should make players happy. The game offers a cavalcade of modes including exhibition matches, several tournaments, leagues, and cups. During several of the game's modes, you can earn reward points for solid play. When you've earned enough points, you can unlock extra players, clubs and special tournaments. WTS 2005's Competition mode allows you to play in a fantasy-style match, where you gain extra points for excellent play and lose some for poor moves. WTS 2005 also includes and extensive season mode, which includes more than 20 different national leagues. In Season mode, you can manage your team's players and rosters using transfers and lineup adjustments during the course of a season to give your club the edge. The transfer market system in the game is quite extensive, and allows you to search for players that will fit your team's needs perfectly. You can also coach a team over several seasons using the Career mode, and build your team so they progress from school-level leagues to competing with the professional clubs.
There are more than 18,000 real players included in the game, with many superstars such as Ronaldo and Beckham represented along with hundreds of teams, clubs and players, though these are only generic names due to licensing issues. In addition, you can create your own custom clubs along with players and rosters to create your own unique team. You can change each players' appearance, names, team uniforms and flags and more. Once you have created your own team, you can use them in actual games. This is pretty impressive in and of itself, but the game goes further. WTS 2005 lets you access a "Super Team Championship" with the all-time best players from each continent. Here, you can recreate classic players and teams and compete against each other or with today's stars to see who is the best. There are definitely plenty of options in the game, and this depth definitely extends the game's replay value.
While the multitude of game modes is impressive, WTS 2005 excels on the field as well. With this year's installment, the controls have been refined to offer players better control over the ball and the pace of the action. The biggest improvement comes in the game's revised passing and shooting system where the shot strength can be controlled using a power-bar at the side of the screen. This allows you to decide how hard you want to kick the ball and how high, making for more accurate goal shots and easier to make passes. Players can also use the icon-passing system to pass to other players automatically, which makes for a more intuitive system. The game's control system gives you a lot of flexibility while keeping the gameplay intuitive and fun to play. Players can also perform a variety of special moves including classic bicycle kicks, shimmys, several types of tackles and more. Controlling the players and moves is relatively simple, with most moves mapped to the PS2 controller in a logical manner. For example, making a player sprint requires you to hold down the R2 key, while the Left buttons allow you to perform deliberate dives and tackles. It's all very simple and easy to understand, giving the game a shallow learning curve. There are three different default configurations, and each is quite easy to understand. You can also adjust your strategy and formations on the fly and substitute players during the match. WTS 2005's controls are quite accessible, making it easy to play while allowing for plenty of variety in how you play. Whether you want to use subtle moves, or more aggressive tactics, the game allows you to play in your own style. WTS feels very good and its smooth gameplay accurately mimics the fast pace and strategy of real soccer.
From a visual standpoint, 989 Sports deserves credit for a polished and realistic looking soccer title that looks solid throughout. The game includes several dozen stadiums filled with lively fans and intricate renderings that bring the excitement and fervor of soccer to life. The player models look realistically life-like, with motion captured players that run, kick and jump just as they would in real life, complete with realistic reaction shots and gestures to break up the action.. The player models show quite a range of diversity in appearance with different heights and body types used to make a convincingly realistic soccer club. The players' movements are fluid and lifelike with multiple moves and animations giving the action an authentic feel. WTS 2005's numerous cut-scenes and reaction shots also enhance the excitement, and giving the presentation a slick TV-style flair. The roar of frenetic crowds chanting and singing adds to the atmosphere and excitement and makes you feel like you're in the stands cheering along. The in-game commentary is likewise excellent, with both Spanish and English tracks available for multilingual audiences. Despite the glossy production values, problems with the camera system marred the presentation.
World Tour Soccer 2005 is a decent game, but there were some problems that undermined the experience. The game's limited camera angles consist of two basic modes, sidelines and overhead, with only a few different zoom points, the action is either too small or too close in to view the action downfield effectively. Players can use the on-screen 'radar' feature, which mitigates this to some degree, but more and better angles would have been appreciated. The game's other main problem lies in its surprising lack of an online mode. While 989 Sports' other 2005 titles used the internet extensively, there's no support for online play - this is disappointing, but not a fatal flaw. Finally, the gameplay is solid, but the move list is limited compared to other soccer titles. While the game is accessible, there isn't the depth of FIFA or Winning Eleven, which makes for a somewhat limiting game. This is especially disappointing in light of the game's extensive roster of modes, players and clubs. While it's a solid game, there are some noteable instances where the game falls a tad short compared to other titles.
problems aside, World Tour Soccer 2005 is still an enjoyable and challenging
soccer title. It's multiple modes, extensive array of options, accessible
controls and the gameplay's authentic feel make it a solid performer on the
field. The gameplay unfolds at a decent pace, and accurately recreates the feel
of professional soccer. An excellent graphics engine makes each match unfold at
a fast clip, while the essential strategy and nuance of the sport hasn't been
neglected. While the graphics engine is excellent, the camera system doesn't
offer the flexibility and variety players have come to expect. The controls are
excellent and the gameplay is surprisingly accessible. World Tour Soccer 2005
offers a fast, frenetic and action-packed experience that makes for some solidly
entertaining play. It doesn't have the depth, deep moves lists and strategic
play of the more 'serious' titles, but it's not intimidating either, making it a
decent choice for casual soccer fans.