|World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 (2006)
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC
According to the back of the box, this game is “The #1 Rated Soccer Game in the World!” To be honest, I wouldn’t know because this is the first soccer game on the PS2 I’ve ever played. Wait a minute. This is the first soccer game since “Pele’s Soccer” back on the Atari 2600 I’ve played. All right, so I’m not the world’s biggest video game soccer fanatic, and truth be told, I wouldn’t personally spend my money on one, but that doesn’t mean this game is bad. It just means my personal interest was less than for some other game. But you know, that’s how it goes. How many Europeans have I talked to that can’t stand American football? Many. And then there’s all of the Americans I know that can’t stand soccer. This translates over in the video game versions as well, it would seem.
So after that thoroughly biased opener, how is “World Soccer Winning Eleven 9?” Well, it was captivating enough to make me want to win an exhibition game (U.S. vs. Russia, baby!), which I did in a post-overtime shootout. It just felt like the overall game was really slow, and the control a bit loose. The game does feature a pretty deep tutorial system which will show you all the tricks to passing and controlling the ball, which undoubtedly is a lot better to work through than just plugging the game in and expecting to dominate straight out of the box. After all, this is a far cry from the good old days of “Pele’s Soccer.”
The game boasts 57 national and 138 officially licensed Euro Club teams, “including Chelsea and Arsenal!” There are also “thousands of the world’s top professional players.” But again, when you generally don’t play this kind of game, that doesn’t mean a whole lot, if anything. For the old fans, it undoubtedly means quite a bit, and the addition of online play will certainly ratchet up the game’s value as well. I personally didn’t hook up the network adapter to get drilled online, but some message board postings I noticed in regard to the game noted that it can get a bit laggy at times.
Overall, the game looks decent, but is by no means a mind-blower. The crowd looks like a classic pasted loop of the same design over and over, and the close up shots of the players look rather old, too. You get the feeling that this would have been a way impressive looking game back closer to when the PS2 first launched rather than now, when the next gen systems are fast approaching and the console is in its twilight. Sometimes the players just look clunky, and their facial expressions more robotic than robust. Ah, and those game announcers. I guess I’m too used to American football, but these guys sound like they’ve been doped with Vicodin beforehand, so very laid back they are. It’s almost kind of nice, as they don’t distract from the action, but at the same time a bit of excitement could have added to the atmosphere.
Overall, “World Soccer Winning Eleven 9” should appeal to fans of the series and keep all the soccer fans happy until a new installment rolls out. I do wish my interests had been greater with this title, but reality is what it is. Just like you’re not going to convince me that Toby Keith is some guy I should spend my time listening to, this game isn’t one that’s going to convert me into a soccer fan. So if you are into the game, just forget all this and jump right in. And if you’re not into it, well at least someone got something out of this review. Now toss me the pigskin.