offering to soccer fans has been sports gaming gold on the PlayStation since the
release of its Winning Eleven series and that’s saying a lot considering the
fact that Electronic Art’s FIFA Soccer franchise is nothing to sneeze at when it
comes to bringing soccer to the Xbox. The series has, in the past, surpassed our
expectations in every way and also continues to – in my opinion – be the
dominant franchise for those who fancy themselves aficionados of the sport. So
you can imagine the joy Xbox gamers are experiencing with the release of World
Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International. How good is it? You’ll be singing its
praised before the first half-time.
enough, this year’s Winning Eleven 8 game is finally using real names meaning
the guy that looked like Beckham but was called something else in the last game
is actually referred to as Beckham in the lineup as well as the actual
commentary. This is good news for those that had to manually edit the names to
include their favorite players in last year’s game. Then again, if you didn‘t
know, this is the series debut on the Xbox (and hopefully not the last) so this
is a great start already.
There are five
playable modes in this game: Match Mode, League Mode, Master League Mode, Cup
Mode and Training Mode. Training Mode is a good place to start because it not
only offers some plenty of tips but it also allows you to hone your skills as
well as learn how to perform some of the coolest tricks for when fancy footwork
is called for in this game. Cup Mode allows you to play in any of the world’s
major cup tournaments like the Euro Cup or the America’s Cup. League Mode puts
you in control of various leagues that range from Italia’s Series A to
everything from the English League. Yet it’s Master League Mode that will eat up
most of your time since here you can create your own team (creating everything
from their uniforms to designing the team flag) and taking them through various
tournaments and matches. Match Mode is basically the game’s exhibition mode and
you have literally hundreds of teams to chose from in the lineup.
teams, the game includes various countries left off the list of countries past
Xbox soccer games have dismissed. You’ll find everything from Peru to Trinidad
and Tobago, and the great thing about this is that the team lineup is current.
This means you can set up some interesting matches between rivals and set up
fantasy matches in practically any of the game’s modes. What the game does lack,
however, is Xbox Live support that will allow you to play the game online or
download current rosters and other goodies. At least gamers can play with up to
Yet this is
about soccer and the Winning Eleven series has always given us a solid game (the
Xbox version moves a bit faster than the PS2 version of the game) with controls
that work well in a game that’s part arcade and part simulator. You’ll find the
game flow is perfect, allowing you to make changes in the formation and tighten
the defense. You can also perform headers and bicycle kicks or corner kicks that
are perfectly executed. This is good since the computer-controlled opponents
hardly drop their defense and are able to attack with the best of them. You’ll
find the ref on the field and while he does have the tendency to bring out the
yellow card often, it never gets out of hand to the point that every little
infraction results in a card. Sometimes, like the real thing, he doesn’t see an
infraction at all.
As for the
game’s visuals, they will not fail to knock your socks off. The player models,
particularly their faces, are superb. You’ll instantly recognize star players
when the camera swings around to them during a cut scene or replay. There are
some grade shadows and the turf in these arenas look amazing up close. As for
the arenas, they’re gorgeous – although the crowd still look a bit crude.
Overall, though, this is a gorgeous-looking game sure to impress any gamer.
The series never
really used any recognizable tunes but then again it’s all about the atmosphere
surrounding the sport and, for the most part, it does a good job. The stadium is
alive with sounds that range from chanting fans to the sounds of coaches barking
instruction to their players. There’s a commentary by Peter Brackley and Trevor
Brooking, and while they do a decent job of calling the plays the commentary is
just too repetitive. Hopefully next year they’ll get commentary that actually
gives plenty of insight instead of just stating the obvious. Still, this is good
Winning Eleven 8
International for the Xbox will make a fan out of those who fancy a soccer game
that plays like a dream and posses all the things we love about the sport. While
it does lack online play there’s just too much this game does right so if you’re
looking for a soccer game that’s loads of fun look no further. Buy this one,
sports fan, you won’t be sorry.
controls are one of the features that continue to be game’s biggest strengths
for when you want to pull off some truly fancy footwork. The opponent AI will
make you work hard on your offensive and defensive strategies. And the various
game modes are simply enjoyable.
This one is
also a stunning-looking game with player models that look amazing up close
during brief replays or out on the field performing bicycle kicks. While the
crowds don’t look as great as the ones in FIFA Soccer 2005, the stadiums are an
impressive sight to behold.
better commentary than this and the fact that it’s so repetitive will make
gamers want to mute it altogether. There’s some excellent stadium sounds and
chants from the crowd feel like you’re watching an actual televised match.
There’s music but nothing that stands out.
sharp-thinking opponents and dominant offensive plays of the computer-controlled
opposing team will have you on your toes. You’ll find it hard to break through
the other team’s defense and oftentimes the goalkeeper can guess your shot too
easily. The referee is occasionally unforgiving but it never gets too out of
mode is the heart of the game and you’ll have a blast designing your own team
and pitting them against various international leagues. Speaking of leagues,
you’ll find enough to choke a horse with and that’s a good thing.
No Xbox Live
support means that you’ll be playing this one offline using a single Xbox.
That’s unfortunate seeing as there’s more than enough leagues to satisfy any
fan. This still doesn’t mean you won’t have fun playing against a friend.
Konami has done it again because Winning Eleven 8 International is the stuff
soccer dreams are made of and it‘s finally on the Xbox. With wonderfully solid
controls, great graphics, enough game modes and enough teams to select, this
game is one you should not miss if you love sports in general.