World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 Review

Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: February 7, 2006 Also On: PS2, PSP and Xbox

Everybody knew about the rivalry between Madden and NFL 2K. It seemed that everyone picked sides, making the rivalry as divisive as Republican vs. Democrat or Protestant vs. Catholic. Unbeknownst to most people, there’s a battle waging in another sport by the name of football (okay, futbol): FIFA vs. Winning Eleven. As in all other sports, EA reigns supreme in the sales charts, but Winning Eleven fans are diehards. This is my first experience with the franchise and I see why it has such a strong following.

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Just as FIFA or 989’s World Tour, Winning Eleven 9 has a number of different modes of play. They range from the Master League, League, Cup, Match and yes, online multi-player. Match is just an exhibition mode that allows you to play against the computer or a friend. League mode, where I would suggest newcomers to start, allows you to pick a team and play with them throughout a season. Your players can fatigue, get injured, etc. while you both manage the team’s roster and play the games.

The most involved mode of all is without a doubt the Master League. If you’re foreign to soccer, you should probably shy away from this as it’s deeper than the Pacific Ocean. You start a team from scratch; you create its logo, team colors, the works. This is the supreme pizza mode of soccer. You’ll need to keep your players satisfied, pay salaries and obviously you need to win games. With the development sheet you can track improvements and declines in player performance.

What I like best about Winning Eleven 9 is the tightness of the controls. The controls in FIFA can be unresponsive, if not delayed at times. Winning Eleven 9 has both a good defensive and offensive setup. While on defense, the player best fit to defend will be selected. As you move your analog stick in a direction, if another player is better suited, he will take control without you even needing to press a button. You can of course manually switch players though.

As for offense, you can do a number of things. You’ll need to learn the intricacies of both offense and defense if you expect to even have a chance against the AI on harder difficulties though. You have a basic pass, a long pass, a dash and a shot. Unlike most other soccer games, if your player isn’t best suited to take the shot, you’re probably going to be woefully off. The level of realness in both defense and offense is astonishing. Yet on lower difficulties (1-3), you can feel confident in winning if you play smart, even without a ton of experience.

The graphics in Winning Eleven are among the best of any sports game you’ll ever see on the PlayStation 2. The stadiums, the players, the fields; they all look true to life. The player animations, their faces, expressions and even their hair make them seem real. Unfortunately, little time was put into the crowds. They look about as bad as a pixilated crowd in a NES game. The overall presentation, however, is praiseworthy.

Overall, Winning Eleven 9 is leaps and bounds above the competition in its level of realism. That doesn’t make it more fun, it just depends on what type of game you like more, but it does make it more true to the world’s most popular sport. The biggest drawback in the whole game is the unfortunate omission of popular teams like Manchester United. You get Chelsea and Arsenal, but other licensed teams are missing. If you can live without Manchester United (afterall, you can create it), then Winning Eleven 9 is a great package to own. Konami put together a game that Americans should give a shot (no pun intended).

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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