There's a lot of talk in the press at the moment about how the Premiership has become boring thanks to the complex strategies incorporated by managers. Apparently fans are saving themselves 40 quid on a Saturday afternoon as they don't want to watch a game of chess with little goal-mouth action to warm their hands and throats. If this sounds familiar then you'll be pleased to hear that you will definitely get net-rippling satisfaction if you invest the match ticket money on World Tour Soccer for the PSP instead. Thanks to the arcade style of the game developed by Sony's London Studio there's a high probability that each game will deliver some sweet goals, or at the very least you'll make sure the opposition goalkeeper gets a good workout.
As a dedicated Pro Evo enthusiast I wasn't expecting great things from a game born from the This Is Football house, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn't try to accurately replicate the beautiful game as a few laws of physics are broken at times but this doesn't take anything away from what the game is trying to achieve.
The ball will stick to your feet so on a lower difficulty level you walk you're way up the pitch with your left back before slotting home. And a slick stream of passes can easily be strung together thanks to the autopilot ball movement which almost always lands at the feet of one of your team. These attributes help to encourage an attacking style of play, which is all good for entertainment purposes.
It has a slightly different format to most football games as you start with just a handful of teams and need to unlock the rest as you make your way through the various cups and challenges. Some people will detest this but I found it was more of an incentive to get stuck in. As well as unlocking the majority of the standard club and national teams there are a host of Classic teams, such as Liverpool '70s, to be unearthed. The game is made in association with FIFPro so all player names are correct which is always a bonus. Although, Sony didn't fork out for the rights for the competitions. Saying that all the usual ones are there; World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, etc. By winning each tournament you are awarded tokens that can then be traded to unlock the teams. Each team has value related to their quality and the difficulty level of a tournament determines how many tokens you can win.
The other key difference and commendable selling point of the game is Challenge mode. This is a cracking idea that adds another dimension to how you think about playing a match. For all the good things you do in the game you get rewarded points, for all the poor things you lose points. For example, scoring a goal, successful passes and a bit of dribbling skill will give you points but conceding a goal, fouling someone and giving away possession will lose you points. Its not just about who's winning at the end its about how well you perform and entertain, as the clock ticks down you'll be performing as many tricks as you can down the wing to bump up the points a bit. The only shame is that there aren't more levels but they do increase with difficulty so it gets pretty tough to obtain a gold medal in the final few rounds. It's a very good idea and very suited to the arcade style adopted by the game.
The graphics aren't anything special, especially if you play in the 'far' view as you can hardly tell what the man on the ball is doing. It's pretty fast and furious at times when there's a goalmouth scramble so things can be a bit un-coordinated but a lot of tasty goals are waiting to be scored. They have put some time in perfecting authentic body movements and easily performed tricks which kind of makes up for the lack of realism. It even includes the deliberate dive manoeuvre which is an old favourite for comedy value, but it's fairly difficult to use successfully so its more likely to be a sure fire way of getting a yellow card. The menu screens are well structured and even let you change skins and there's a decent Indie soundtrack which is enjoyable to listen to whilst you give your thumb a bit of a rest between games. It's a shame the commentary by Peter Drury wasn't expanded from more than just saying player's names at different volume levels, but the rest of the sound effects and stadium sound is okay.
On the whole it's a fine football game providing something a bit different; whilst there are tournaments and challenges to be completed it is lots of fun. Also, the multiplayer option in challenge mode will kick up some entertaining contests. But, the lack of a Master League type option could well limit its long-term value. But who's worried about that, Pro Evo will be released on the PSP soon so this will adequately keep you happy until then.
7 out of 10
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