World Tour Soccer 06 REVIEW

World Tour Soccer 06 Review (PSP)

Now, this is unexpected.
I'm playing World Tour Soccer 06 on the PSP for the first time (I didn't play last year's version), expecting a simulation in the vein of MLB 06: The Show, and I'm blindsided with something different.
Something different, and refreshing.
A blend of light-simulation and mostly-arcade play, World Tour Soccer 06 presents the sport in new way, and if you're willing to stick with it, you'll likely find it an enjoyable title that's well designed for the PSP platform.
In many ways, WTS06 plays like a traditional soccer game; with complete offensive and defensive command schemes that function well. In Exhibition and Classic Challenge mode, you'll be playing a more-or-less traditional soccer game, but where the title carves out its own niche is in its other, more unique and entertaining modes of play.
Using a points-based rewards system throughout, WTS06 encourages proper play and penalizes poor decision-making and careless play. While not quite in the style of Electronic Arts' Street series of sports games, the better your play, the more points you'll earn. Hit the appropriate point levels, and you'll earn various medals and unlock more of the game.
The World Tour mode is the game's meat-and-potatoes, and it's aptly named. You'll select your squad and travel about the globe, trying not only to beat the other team, but to accomplish certain objectives in the process. These vary and tend to keep the game fresh, as opposed to an unending parade of similar contests.
During the World Tour games, you'll experience different modifiers to each contest, and these can unlocked through play and accessed later using the game's Medal Mode.
For example, some games will have a shot clock, which makes for a completely different soccer experience. Another modifier will have your team playing short-handed, while another will force you to pass to each and every one of your teammates before you can attempt a shot.
These modifiers force you to change your game to fit each contest, and that in turn keeps the game fresh and fun.
World Tour Soccer 06 may not be a "deep" game, per se - once you've learned the basics, it's simply a matter of executing in the game's different situations, as the AI doesn't have much variation - but there's a lot to do, and there's a lot of fun to be had in the process.
There are 69 national teams in the game, and since the title is licensed by FIFPro, the game's players are modeled after their real-life counterparts, which adds to the game's experience even with it's arcade leanings.
From a graphics standpoint, the game's a mixed bag. Player animations are a bit simplistic at times, but the overall look of the game is pleasant enough. It's no MLB '06, but it's not hideous, either. The stadia in the game are uniquely created, with a stereotypical bent based on their location (an Aussie stadium has giant kangaroos flanking one end, for example). That said; they're nice enough to look at, and fit into the somewhat-exaggerated feel of the game. The controls are tight and responsive, and the game's sound package is quite good on the whole. The announcers are solid if not spectacular, and the game's music won't have you scrambling for the mute on your PSP.
The online capabilities of WTS06 are impressive. Players can compete simultaneously using either Ad-Hoc or Infrastructure modes, and a limited lobby helps speed the process along. Finding players was a bit tricky, but the game performed well online when I could find someone to play against.
World Tour Soccer 06 did what most games don't do nowadays - surprise me.
It's fun and clever blended-arcade approach to the sport worked for me, and the variations in game play are welcome.
While the game could use a smidge more depth and some overall polish, it's a solid entry into the PSP sports marketplace, and worth a try if you're a soccer fan, an arcade sports fan, or both.

World Tour Soccer 06 Score
out of 10