reviews\ Mar 22, 2005 at 7:00 pm

World Tour Soccer - PSP - Review

Knowing how important sports games are to the success of a console's launch, Sony made certain that their hottest sports games were ready for PSP's arrival. Games like Gretzky NHL, NBA, MLB, and unparalleled racing from Wipeout Pure (futuristic racing is a sport. What, you didn't know that?). Gran Turismo is on its way, but we don't know when just yet.

Among the sports games to launch on the PSP, you'd probably expect NBA to be the champ. If not that game, then definitely Gretzky NHL or MLB, or perhaps ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails. You'd never expect a soccer game to be the champ. You'd never expect a soccer game to the best PSP sports game next to Wipeout Pure. Well, guess what, gamers? It is. And that's only if you consider Wipeout to be a sport like I do. If you don't, then World Tour Soccer is the crowned king.

Enjoyable with great mechanics, beloved for having stellar controls, World Tour Soccer is exactly what the PSP needs. I needed another reason to stay up late, another reason to continue staring at the console's breathtaking four-inch screen. World Tour Soccer meets those needs with artificial intelligence that doesn't seem so artificial. There aren't many game modes, but this is one time when I can't complain about it.


World Tour Soccer goes head-to-head with Blitz, Street and other no-holds-barred sports games with its Challenge Mode. Fouls can occur but not as often, opening the door for harder hits that you wouldn't be able to get away with in any other circumstance. This allows players to concentrate on the goal at hand, which involves a lot more than simply scoring a goal. Points are your point of success, and the only way to multiply your totals is by playing skillfully.

That's the game's description. My translation: pass frequently, get as many shots on goal as possible, and do whatever it takes to keep control of the ball at all times. I'm usually able to hold the ball 75% of the time, at least on the first few stages. It gets progressively harder, though I wouldn't say it's the hardest part of the game.

Passing can earn you as much as 40 points or as few as 5. Passing to your opponent by mistake can cost you 10 points. Lose the ball due to poor handling and the deductions will continue. The largest reward – 300 points – is given for every goal scored, but if your opponent is the one who scores, 300 points will be taken away.

Stop that ball!

In addition to the entertainment value, the Challenge Mode is a great way to learn the ropes of World Tour Soccer. I never realized how many similarities there are between American football and the game we call soccer. Some of the same tactics I use to defeat my friends at Madden or NFL Street are applicable to World Tour Soccer.

Hesitation near the net – that never fails to fool a player at least once. The computer-controlled opponents might fall for it several times! As I walk in circles, appearing to be cornered, the opponent moves in, thinking he can take the ball. Once he takes the bait I just step back and watch him trip, run past him, pass the ball to the best teammate (the one positioned closest to the net), and take the shot. I get nothing for missed shots, but I'll be 50 points richer if the ball is blocked. Stay on target with the net and no matter what you can't lose.

Technically you can't lose anyway, so long as you get enough points to achieve a bronze medal. Medals are rewarded whether you end up with more goals at the end of the game or not. It's not likely that that would happen with all the points that are lost when an opponent scores, but it is possible.

This is what the Sony execs will be doing after they get the first-day sales figures.

World Tour Soccer comes highly recommended to anyone and everyone who loves sports games. Soccer, football, basketball, hockey – your love for any of them is all you need to fall for WTS. Before this game, I only liked soccer games. There were a few that I loved, but the genre didn't seem lovable as a whole. It might seem crazy for one game to change my opinion, but that's what great games do. They change you, and motivate you to experience more games in that genre.

Cost is only an issue with crappy games, but you can't deny that World Tour Soccer's MSRP of $39.99 is much more appealing than the $34.99 MSRP of the two-dimensional soccer games designed for the GBA. At the moment, the GBA version of FIFA 2004 is World Tour Soccer's only competition. Now that we've bitten into this juicy steak, gamers will no longer be content with 2D sports games. We want full-3D gameplay, and not the kind Bubsy 3D provided (it was one of the first, but also one of the worst). What we want is World Tour Soccer.

Review Scoring Details for World Tour Soccer

Gameplay: 8.5
One word is all I need to explain why I love World Tour Soccer: controls. The play mechanics are smooth, accurate, and very realistic. The collision detection and shot system are top-notch.   Athletes don't spontaneously disappear as they do in Gretzky NHL, nor do they have trouble getting hold of the ball as the athletes do in NBA.

Graphics: 7.5
Not up to snuff with NBA, World Tour Soccer has bland characters with fluid animation. PSP can do much, much better things than that.

Sound: 7.5
A rule of thumb for soccer games: the soundtrack must come from Europe. It doesn't sound much like the stuff Americans are used to hearing, but overall the music is really good.

So much fun to play that you won't want to quit. Even after losing the THIRD game in a row!

Concept: 8.0
The Sony soccer series you love, now with better controls! I don't know how it's possible, but this is better than last year's version for PlayStation2.

Multiplayer: 8.0
It’s a two for WiFi sale! Act now and we’ll throw in this stainless steel bean strainer at no extra charge! (Bean strainer not actually included with the game or the PSP.)

Overall: 8.5
I think this is the first time in my life that I'm recommending a soccer game to people who don't even like soccer. World Tour Soccer has the potential to be enjoyed by everyone. I really didn't expect much from it - my expectations were lower for it than any other PSP launch title simply because I assumed it was going to be a bare-bones port. It's not. It's so good you'll probably forget you're playing a soccer game. European players will be thrilled, but American gamers would be foolish to think they won't be just as excited.


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