Okay, so I’m
more of a GameCube and Xbox kind of girl but when I heard that Konami’s
Winning Eleven 8 game was to be the series’ finest of hours I just had to
check it out. Having been a fan of the franchise for quite awhile and loved many
a thing, and hated just a few things about the series, it’s my most humble
opinion that this is the best soccer series that has ever graced the PS2. Sure
989 Sports World Tour Soccer is not bad at all and sure EA Sport’s
FIFA Soccer franchise is sports gold but Winning Eleven has somehow never
let fans of the sport down. This year’s World Soccer Winning Eleven 8
International brings us more of the same goodness with a few new additions
and fans couldn’t be happier.
with what’s new. For starters, this year Konami has acquired actual player names
as well as their likeness … that is evident from the box cover that features
USA’s own Eddie Pope. That means each team will have an accurate and
surprisingly current team lineup so Argentinean fans will be happy to see
“Burrito” Ortega on the team and English fans will be glad to see Beckham (or
Beck’s as he’s affectionately known back in the UK) keep his own name. This is
cool for gamers who thought the made-up names from the past games just don’t cut
it. Yet the biggest and most pleasant change is the Master League Mode with its
few tweaks here and there.
Mode allows you to craft your own team from scratch, deciding on the uniform
color and design to what type of flag the fans will be waving during matches.
The design tools are pleasantly elaborate but the improvements are seen in the
mode’s ability to track player injuries and development (players can get too old
to play the game) or make trades or even loan out a player to other teams for a
short period. It’s not as deep as FIFA Soccer 2005’s Career Mode but it’s
still really juicy. There’s also League Mode, which has you choosing from
various international leagues (French, German and Spanish leagues to name a few)
while Cup Mode has you competing in cup tournaments like the UEFA Euro Cup or
the America’s Cup. There’s even Match Mode that plays like a normal exhibition
mode and finally Training Mode where you can learn some extra skills or learn
the more complicated tricks. The only thing missing is an online multiplayer
This takes us
to the gameplay, which continues to be what makes this game so addictively
enjoyable. It’s not quite a simulator and not quite arcade either so it’s the
best of both worlds and it’s the reason the game flow is fast and furious, but
also easy enough to grab the controller and start playing. You’ll find it easy
to make quick passes and chip shots and dribble the ball while putting those
fancy feet to work. If you go through Training Mode you’ll even come to learn
bicycle kicks and headers towards the goal. Because of these things you’ll find
yourself performing neat goals and moves that will have you calling a friend
over to see the replay.
themselves can be tweaked to your liking and you can even change the difficulty
level, although that really doesn’t change how the opponent AI reacts. The other
team just seems to put up a brilliant defense and jumpstarts the offense at all
the right moments while their goalkeeper can guess the direction of your shot.
It’s unfortunate that your own goalie can’t do the same but at least your team
is good at making themselves open to passes. The referee can also be insistent
in passing out yellow cards, but thankfully it doesn’t get out of hand.
series has gone from becoming an attractive teen to blossoming into an extremely
gorgeous adult. Oh yeah, these are wonderfully sharp visuals that would make any
PS2 owner glad they bought a Sony console. The player models are beautifully
detailed and their faces show actual emotion that looks pretty darn natural. The
various stadiums are also magnificent, although the crowds still don’t look as
great as in other sports games. That’s all right because everything else just
seems to immerse us into the match, especially the player intros and the goal
animations and replays. This is some great stuff.
As for the
sound, Winning Eleven 8 International feels just like a televised event
when it comes to displaying stadium sounds and the commentary. You’ll hear the
fans in the crowd chant and cheer when their team comes close to the goal, but
it’s missing the small little touches that make any fan break out in gooseflesh.
The crowds don’t sing songs like in many international matches where the
Brazilians bang on drums or the English fans sing their recognizable songs to
cheer their team on. The two-man commentary still does a decent job of calling
the plays but then again when it comes to color or pointing out particular
players the commentary becomes way too repetitive. Even the generic rock
instrumentals don’t offer anything interesting in the menu selection screen.
Sorry Konami but this is where EA Sports beats you easily.
thrills than a World Cup match, World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International
is an exciting and wonderfully challenging soccer game fans will adore.
We’re talking about a game with great controls, absolutely gorgeous graphics and
enough teams to make any gamer cheer. An online multiplayer mode could have made
this one the ultimate soccer title on the PS2, but it’s still good enough to
have in your collection anyway.
What can be said about a game that
plays perfectly thanks to some solid controls and a style that blends its arcade
roots with a simulator style tossed in for good measure? The game modes are
excellent and there are enough teams to keep any fan happy.
In one word: gorgeous. Graphics like
this make this a game that not only plays beautifully but also looks the part
with great player models and neatly designed stadiums. The stadiums look as
though it’s alive with people and while the flag-waving fans look too pixilated
they do look decent from afar.
Much love goes out to the crowd
chants but it’s missing the songs and other little noises that make up the game.
The commentary team calls the plays like they see them and that’s good, but why
does the color have to be so repetitive? The music is pure Konami-styled rock
guitars and this will make you long for EA Sport’s skill in acquiring licensed
The Winning Eleven franchise
has always given us some really brutal opponents that put up quite a defense and
an offense that’s good at finding holes in our defense. In short, you really
have to pay attention in this game or you’ll find yourself on the receiving end
of some golden goals.
What’s this? Italia’s Series A, the
German League and the English League all present and accounted for in this
year’s game? And are my eyes deceiving me or is that Ronaldinho’s name on the
roster and being called out by the commentators? Can somebody please pass me a
napkin? I can’t stop drooling over all these new additions.
Up to four players can take each
another on (using the PS2 Multitap, of course) in the game’s various game modes,
and that’s not bad at all in my book. However, no online multiplayer love for a
great sports game that cries out for multiplayer love means this reviewer will
start weeping. I’ll take comfort in hoping the next game in the series will
support an online mode. Sniff.
Konami, how you manage to continue
bringing us pure soccer bliss is beyond me, but please keep them coming.
World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International is by far this franchise’s best
offering with a solid soccer game well worth the purchase price. Really, do not
miss out on this one.