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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Konami

 

Developer

Konami

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Lots of depth

- Good controls

- Nice animation

- Good AI

 

 

- Visuals lack detail

- Commentators don't have enough to say

 

 

Review: FIFA 2002 (Playstation 2)

Review: World Tour Soccer 2003 (Playstation 2)

Review: Sega Soccer Slam (Gamecube)

 

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Winning Eleven 6

Score: 9.0 / 10

Since the series first started Japanese and European gamers have enjoyed Winning Eleven for its ability to so accurately recreate pro soccer.  There have been plenty of other franchises to come along, but Konamiís game of electronic footy has easily become the benchmark to which all challengers are compared.  Now, for the first time in years the game has made its way to North American shores (the last time we saw this being in the form of International Superstar Soccer on the PSX).  Thereís a bit of a learning curve to this beast that may be a bit daunting for some, but if you put in a few hours to get a handle on the gameís play mechanics what youíll find is a very rewarding title.  

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Getting started with some regular matches is a good idea in Winning Eleven 6 (WE6) simply to get a handle on the controls and overall flow of the game.  The biggest stumbling block will come in getting used to the power gauges when passing and shooting.  This is used in place of having each button having a different level of strength of passing and one all-encompassing shoot button like many other titles in the genre tend to cling to.  Firstly there are three types of passes: short pass, through pass, and lobbing/centering passes.  Having this level of control adds so much to the game, making it feel far more realistic as players are given far more strategic options in how they can move the ball up the field.  But going back to the power gauges, when a player initially hits one of the pass buttons or the shoot button the gauge quickly begins to fill up.  Hitting the same button again releases the ball at a velocity relative to how full the gauge is.  In terms of passing it doesnít take long to get used to this, but when it comes to shooting on the goal thereís adjusting will likely take longer.  This is largely due to the fact that once you get into shooting range of the opponentís goal the defenders will really start coming after you so stress comes into play, often resulting in botched shots that send the ball 

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soaring over the net.  Once players have cooler heads and are more accustomed to dealing with defenders it becomes easier to line up shots and actually get them on target.

 

When on defense things are a lot more straightforward with the standard mix of putting pressure on opponents and running in for a sliding tackle.  WE6 is, however, far less forgiving on missed tackles to take the ball.  Unless itís a very mild grazing expect to get at least a yellow card, and 

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if you totally take out the opponent kiss your defender goodbye because the ref is likely going to treat him to a red card.  Itís a very nice, far more realistic approach to defense that encourages finesse and learning to play with subtly and not trying to pummel the other team into submission. 

Hopping into a game it also becomes apparent very quickly that the AI is damn good.  They really move the ball down the field well on offense, and on defense they know how to put pressure on players and clog up routes for passing.  Expect to spend a good amount of time in the mid-field waiting for an opportunity to push toward the goal just like a real game.  And once you get down there the AI will really put on the pressure, making it a real challenge to get into the box for a reasonably reliable clean shot.  WE6 definitely is not a game of run and gun, youíll have to be patient and know when to strike, not just constantly push up the field and shoot wildly hoping that the ball gets in the net.

Watching all of this on-screen is a mixed bag, however.  The animation of the players is top-notch, staying very smooth the whole time.  But the overall detail of the player models and the stadiums is lacking when compared to the likes of the FIFA series or SEGA Soccer Slam.  Overall, the visual presentation of WE6 is still easy on the eyes, but itís by no means at the top of the heap.  

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The sound does fair a bit better though.  The crowd sound is respectable, though not nearly as team specific as the FIFA series and the music during menu screens is a nice mix of electronic tunes.  The announcers, though, need some work.  More accurately they need more to say.  It doesnít take long to run through the selection of comments they can make in game before players have cycled through all of them.  On the plus side, players can choose the disposition of the announcers determining whether theyíre pro home team, pro visitors, neutral, and so forth.  Despite this, it would have been nice to see them saying more while the game is being played.  They do a nice job of playing good cop/bad cop, but they arenít too wordy about it.

There are plenty of game modes for players to sink their teeth into as well, including Match, Cup, League, Master League, Training, and Edit.  Also there is plenty of tweaking available to players who want to adjust their teamsí appearance, field formations, and so forth.  The variety of play modes and level of customization will keep most gamers that like to get into the nitty-gritty very happy.

WE6 does a wonderful job of providing gamers with a very true to form soccer simulation.  If youíre looking for a title that makes every effort to step away from the arcade style soccer games currently inhabiting store shelves in North America you can do no wrong going with this game.  It takes some time to get used to but it is well worth the effort.  A fantastic game.

Mr. Nash

(May 4, 2003)

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