reviews\ Mar 20, 2005 at 7:00 pm

World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International - PC - Review

The year: 1988. The system: Commodore 64. The game: Superstar Soccer by Mindscape. Imagine my heartache when after coming home from school, waiting the five minutes (Yes, games used to take this long to load on the Commodore. And people complain about 20 seconds now!) for the game to load, selecting my team, loading the actual soccer portion of the game, and just staring at the screen full of nothing forever. I was distraught for weeks. I thought I would never find a soccer game so enthralling and fun ever again, until I got to play World Soccer Winning Eleven Eight International for the PC. 

All of the same features I so adored in Superstar Soccer are here. Team management, exciting gameplay, and real soccer action. Master League play allows you to control every aspect of your team. Trade players, find new players, and even change the color of your uniforms. Just want to sit back and only be a coach of your team? Let the computer play for you. Match mode lets you play matches from any of the many teams represented. In League Mode, you take over the reins of a team in one of the many leagues from around the world. Finally, Cup Mode takes you to any of the world's major cup tournaments. The options in Winning Eleven seem almost endless. Start off with the training mode, and in no time, you'll be heading and bicycle kicking the ball right between the legs of the goalie. Anyone who would just sit back and coach would be missing the best part of the game - playing soccer. The controls are so tight that it feels as if you could kick the ball yourself. My only recommendation is to pick up a console-style gamepad because trying to play a sports game with the keyboard is like trying to stand on your head and juggle at the same time.

Winning Eleven Eight International allows you to play in highly detailed stadiums the world over, with all of your favorite teams. The teams have real players, with highly detailed faces, which I am told look like the real deal. (Unfortunately, I like soccer videogames, but I do not follow soccer as a sport.) This game just looks plain gorgeous. The net moves realistically, the grass looks like it is freshly mowed, and the sidelines even have the rotating advertisements. The only complaint I have is the crowd graphics. The crowd looks like it was pulled from Mike Tyson's Punch Out! It looks fine when viewed from the normal playing angle, but anytime there is a close-up on a player, a blurred and fuzzy thing that might be people, appears. Authentic crowd chants get the atmosphere up while playing a heated game between rivals. The commentary is nice, except for a few odd quirks, like saying that every shot on goal was "close," even when the ball goes 10 feet above the goalie's head. Electronic Art's FIFA series of soccer games have all the real licensed rocking music; Winning Eleven only has generic rock tunes, but they do not detract from the game at all.

Two to One. That score from my first match of Winning Eleven Eight summed up the difficulty level for me. It's spot on perfect. Playing the normal difficulty, I split with the computer players. The hardest levels beat me handily, and the easiest makes me feel like I am the god of soccer. (God of soccer meaning a complete and total blowout of 4-1.) The biggest complaint most people will have about Winning Eleven is the lack of online multiplayer. This seems like a travesty of justice, as the best-playing soccer game is left to the offline world only. A small consolation is playing with multiple players on one PC, or across a LAN against one other person. I'm not sure if it is technically possible, but a full 11-on-11 match online would be truly awe-inspiring.

World Soccer Winning Eleven Eight International brings together all of the concepts I love from many soccer games of the past: full team management, loads of options, amazing gameplay, awesome graphics, and a dead-on perfect level of difficulty. Even the FIFA and World Cup games can't compare to the total experience offered by Winning Eleven Eight. If Konami can include some better crowd graphics, and online play next year, they may just have the most perfect soccer game ever made.

Review Scoring Details for World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International

Gameplay: 9.5
Winning Eleven Eight International has the most realistic soccer gameplay I have ever experienced. Passing, shooting, goaltending, it feels just like real life. Get a gamepad or the gameplay suffers extremely.

Graphics: 9.0 
The player models and stadiums look amazing. The player's faces are extremely detailed. The crowds in the stadiums, unfortunately, look like something pulled out of Super Nintendo game.

Sound: 8.5
The crowd's noise and chants make you feel like you are right in the heat of a real soccer match. The commentary is excellent the majority of the time, but occasionally comes out with remarks that just seem out of place. The generic rock tunes on the menu are largely forgettable.

Difficulty: Medium
Winning Eleven Eight International seems to be set at just the right difficulty level. At the easy levels, I was handing out defeat after defeat. At the medium levels, I was about 50/50 on wins, and on the hardest levels, I was consistently watching the computer score goals on me.

Concept: 9.5 
Winning Eleven gives you multiple options of how to play. Want to manage every last little detail of your team? You can do it. Want to play a quick game of soccer with your favorite team? It's there. 

Multiplayer: 8.0
An online mulitplayer option would complete Winning Eleven Eight International. As it stands, the multiplayer options included are adequate; play against your friends on the same PC, or across a LAN connection.

Overall: 9.5
The inclusion of real players and teams make Winning Eleven Eight International a welcomed update this year. Konami provides great control, awesome graphics, and enough options to keep any sports fan happy. Watch out EA, Winning Eleven Eight may just become THE franchise for soccer.


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