previews\ Jul 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Academy of Champions: Soccer - WII - Preview

Academy of Champions: Soccer is an upcoming Wii-exclusive soccer game from Ubisoft. The game puts players in a school-like setting where they’ll mingle with other players, training to become soccer greats. The game features light-hearted graphics and feel, as well as some solid on the field soccer mechanics that will please many soccer fans.

Academy of Champions features Pele, soccer superstar extraordinaire, as an “Obi-Wan” character of sorts, the Headmaster of the Academy. Under his tutelage (which emphasizes the idea of teamwork and passing over personal glory), you’ll go through 4 terms at the Academy, in which you’ll train, interact with other students, and play a lot of matches. You’ll have the ability to take your team of five to glory either by training them to be successful on the pitch or trade around to get the best team possible.

The game’s training sims are quite fun, and one of them will use the Wii Balance Board. In this drill, you’ll be able to improve your ball handling by shifting and leaning around on the Balance Board in order to roll the ball around your shoulders and neck and balance it in order to gain points. You can juggle the ball between your feet and your head and shoulders quite easily, but maintaining balance and rolling the ball requires some concentration. Additionally the game will use the Wii Motion Plus add-on. Using it, you’ll be able to alter the trajectory of the ball in mid air and also perform dodges.

The on-pitch gameplay is very solid and responsive, while being very accessible to newcomers. The game uses a pretty arcadey approach that gives you a variety of special moves. As you play well, you’ll earn points that go towards your special meter, which can then be used by shaking the Wii remote up and down in order to pull off some hard to block shots on your opponent’s goal. Often, you’ll have to jostle for the ball with your opponents, at which point the game goes through a mini-game where you have to perform the right action on the screen in order to win the jostle.

Outside of the 4 term story mode, you’ll be able to play quick matches as one of 18 teams, some of which have to be unlocked. While many of the teams are tied into the game’s story mode, there are some (like a team of Rabbids) that are just for fun. The best team in the game is the Ubisoft FC, which is composed of popular characters from the Ubisoft universe, including Rayman, Sam Fisher, Altair and so on. The game also boasts some pretty cool environments. Using a system called “environmation”, the pitches will become more detailed and elaborately decorated the more goals that are scored.

Academy of Champions is shaping up to be a very fun and accessible soccer game, as well as one that should offer a ton of variety for Wii-owning footie fans.

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