World Tour Soccer 2002 Review (PS2)
I have to admit, although I played the latest Gameday, I had sworn off 989 Sports until they showed a genuine interest in improving their lineup of sports games. So when World Tournament Soccer 2002 hit the stores I didn't even blink. I saw some people saying it was pretty good and that it was actually done by a group out of England called Team Soho, so I had to see for myself.
I will qualify my review with these facts: 1) I never played soccer growing up. Youth Soccer came after my time. 2) I have never played Winning 11 or even International Soccer for the N64. 3) I do watch a fair amount of soccer, but in no way consider myself an expert on the finer points of the game. So with that being said, here is what I think of World Tournament Soccer 2002.
The control is generally pretty solid and responsive. It's your basic setup, X to pass, O to shoot, Square for an aerial pass and triangle for a through pass. I was using through passes quite a bit, but then realized that sometimes using the regular pass was more effective. The through pass will lead your player and sometimes, especially in near the box, leads him too far and the goalie will come up and swipe the ball. It's in this area that I recommend the regular pass.
There are also some advanced moves that involve the trigger buttons. I haven't found them to be all that useful, but that could be my own problem. One of the moves is a stutter step with a pass ahead to yourself, but invariably it seems to get stolen. The spin move doesn't seem to shake my defender very often, if at all. In my experience the best way to move the ball upfield is to pass quickly. I have not had a lot of success with dribbling.
On defense the controls are responsive and the slide tackle can be very effective when used properly, as can the regular tackle. Either one of these moves used at the wrong time can leave your defense exposed. You will need to learn how to use the L1 button. The L1 button calls for a defender to help you, when used properly it's great. You may have been beaten or want to cover the guy without the ball. Hit L1 and your defender will aggressively charge the ball and more often then not make a nice play. However, you can really get burned by using the L1 button, if you are not careful you will pull another man towards the ball, the CPU is pretty smart and will slide a nice little pass to the man you just left.
This is a fast paced game, the ball will move up and down the field and there will be a fair amount of scoring chances for both teams. Mastering the use of the L1 button and understanding when to be aggressive on D and when not to be are essential elements to your success.
Probably the most frustrating part of this game is the fact that the CPU team rarely seems to get a foul called on it and it is even rarer to see the cpu get booked for an infraction. If you play smart and don't tackle from behind you will not get too many fouls called on you. Most of the yellow cards I got were ill timed slide tackles, in which I tackled the defender after he had passed. It would be nice to see them even this out for next year, there are numerous times you feel that you are tackled from behind but get no call.
One my favorite aspects of this game are the corner kicks. There are multiple ways to attack on offense and what I like the best is the fact that there is a lot of traffic in front of the net. It seems in FIFA that the offensive players would not attack the net, that is not the case with WTS2002. There is some great action in front of the net. Some of the other set plays like free kicks from in the scoring area, look great but have a "canned" feel to them. When you are on D you don't really get the feeling that you can do much to stop the kicker, he may angle one perfectly into the corner and all you can do is admire the animation.
I never did see the CPU make a substitution unless there was an injury. The CPU will change it's in game strategies though, depending on the situation.
There are four levels of difficulty which is nice, it took me quite awhile to advance past Pro, when I move up to World I was getting my butt kicked for the most part. I haven't even attempted Master class, 4 levels in my mind always adds to the re-playablity of a game.
GRAPHICS AND ANIMATION
This is a good looking game. The player models are off a little bit and I am not exactly sure where or why, they just don't seem right. However the animations are well done and pretty smooth. There is a healthy variety of animations and more importantly they are used in the game at the right places. When you see a bicycle kick, which won't happen often, it is used in a realistic setting. One of sweeter ways to score a goal is with a crossing pass to a player who will play the ball in the air and drill it home. The nice thing is, unlike FIFA, you don't see the spectacular move all that often, so when you do you really appreciate it even more.
The replay camera is extremely well done; there is a free camera mode which will really help you appreciate the graphical quality of this game. Basically you can look at anything you want from any angle. While doing this you appreciate that the animations are solid and don't just look OK from the high up views. There are 7 or 8 different venues with pretty decent weather effects, although I can't say I noticed a huge difference in gameplay due to weather.
The menus are quick, clean and responsive. One of the coolest things is at the start of the game when you are selecting your formation, your players are represented by colored circles, when you enter this screen they move from the sidelines onto the field in formation. So if you make any substitutions or changes to your formation, you can see exactly where each player will be.
The in - game presentation is light on overlays, but the substitutions are done well. The replays of goals and other significant plays are very well done. They will show you a goal from a variety of angles that let you appreciate the look of the game.
The announcer is just OK, he seems to have most of the names of the players down and stays up with the action. Nothing ground breaking and fortunately, no repetitive analyst. The crowd noises are pretty good, with some different chants depending on where you are. Once again, nothing spectacular, but at least it is pretty lively.
WTS2002 offers most of the Major international Leagues, (England, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France) a couple like France and England have more than one division. I think there are 9-10 leagues overall. All major countries are represented as well. The players are real, but the uniforms and Club names are not. They rate the players in quite a bit of depth with at least 15 categories, you will really see a difference in accuracy of passes and shooting ability with the higher rated players. One thing I like is that players seem to be rated realistically. I realize that the US is not a soccer power, but Josh Wolf is fast and in other games he is rated like half the speed of some of the European players. I doubt there are too many people who are twice as fast as he is. So the ratings seem more realistic in that the better players are better, but they do not dwarf the competition.
You have league play and world tournaments, country specific tournaments like English Cup or Spanish Cup. It doesn't bother me that they don't have the officially licensed names but if that is something that floats your boat you might want to stay away.
A couple of unique items, at least to American gamers is the Timewarp league, they have many of the greatest players on the great teams from various decades. For instance 80's Barcelona, 90's Madrid. This is a little over my head because before the 1990's it was next to impossible to get any soccer information in the US.
WTS2002 also offers school boy teams and they play in something called the school boy jumper league. The setting is on a playground and the biggest difference you will notice is no nets. Some stuff on the ground represents the left and right posts but there is not a top post, which I imagine could lead to many a prolonged arguments on whether a goal should count or not.
You can also customize teams and players, but there is no franchise mode.
WTS2002 is a fine effort, I had fun playing it. I think that the pace is a little too fast, although the scores usually end up being realistic the number of scoring opportunities given the length of the games, is too high. Finding that balance between fun game play and realistic soccer action is difficult. WTS2002 captures some elements quite well, but misses a bit in other areas. It's definitely worth a rental if you are looking for some soccer action and I would recommend purchasing to most fans. I think the diehard soccer fan will come away unsatisfied, but for the rest of us, this is a fun game.