World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 Review

By John Duong, GN Writer

EA may be the general leading authority when it comes to developing high profile sports series like Madden, Fight Night, and NASCAR, but in the realm of soccer, it’s Konami that comes out on top with their highly popular Winning Eleven series. Hailed by critics and fans alike as the number one ranking soccer title in the world, Winning Eleven is also widely regarded as one of the most realistic soccer games to have ever graced a console. And while the end of last year saw them lose a bit of ground against the formidable release of FIFA 06, which also did very well, they’ve now returned with their arms full, offering an array of new moves, tricks, and formations, additionally licensed teams, and a highly anticipated feature that supports online competitive gameplay.

The game offers a variety of ways to play, including quick match, master league career mode, custom league, cup competitions, online play, training, and edit mode. As impressive as all that is, there’s something to be said about the menu system, which was in definitely in need of some polish as it was rather messy and difficult to navigate.

Once you get to the action, however, it becomes immediately apparent why Winning Eleven has such a positive reputation. Granted, it will take you some time to get acquainted with all the moves you can perform, but given how lenient the learning curve is and how responsive the controls are, players who prefer to skip through the boring stuff and get right to the gameplay should have no trouble in doing so. It’s still recommended that you check out the tutorials though since they provide insightful tips and interactive sessions that can help you improve much quicker. Master league career mode will most likely be where you’ll want to begin, if you’re looking for something along the lines of a campaign mode. Once you decide on which of the approximately 140 teams you want to play, you’ll then be presented with the choice of whether or not you want to start with your chosen team’s actual roster. Depending on what you choose, your wage bill could either increase or decrease. If you want it easier, go with the the actual roster, but note that it’s more expensive this way. If you like a challenge however, (or if you’re just a sadomasichistic sucker for punishment) make sure to go with the other choice. My only complaint with this however, is the lack of licensed teams available to you. Even a soft-core soccer fan like me was a little bit disappointed to find Manchester United unlisted, but apparently, Konami has been putting forth a great amount of effort towards acquiring more legitimate teams, so there’s still a lot to look forward to.

Master League can also be considered a sort of franchise mode and you’ll spend the bulk of your time winning games, conditioning your team, making tough decisions, revising strategy, paying the bills, and spending points to attain better players. Despite how shallow this may probably sound, it’s actually a very thrilling experience and you’ll definitely feel good about yourself when you reap the fruits of your labor and the crappy team that you started with suddenly turns around and mops the floor with each and every one of your opponents in true cliche-sports-movie fashion.

If casual play with friends is more of what you’re looking for though, then that’s just as well. Winning Eleven also boasts an addicting multiplayer mode. Provided there’s a multi-tap in your possession, you and up to seven other players can either band together against the computer or go head to head. Believe me, there’s nothing quite as fun as tripping your friends in-game solely just to see their faces as their character gets a faceful of dirt. Online mode only allows two players to connect from your system which is unfortunate, but sensible.

Given how incredible Shadow of the Colossus looked on the PS2, it’s kind of disappointing to see that the crowds on WE9 show less sign of life than the wacky-wailing-inflatable-arm-flailing-tubemen you see outside of every tire shop (don’t sue us, FOX). The weather effects are less than spectacular and there’s not a whole lot of variety when it comes to the types of terrain you can play on. The character models on the other hand are exceptional and look very real, but it just seems like such a waste to have such high quality characters standing against such a mediocre backdrop.

The sound isn’t much to talk about either. Commentators Peter Brackley and Trevor Brooking offer some decent narrative to coincide with the gameplay, but what really surprised me was that by the second game, they were already repeating themselves. Now, I’m not expecting Madden-quality conversation here, but the longer I sat through it, the more I was reminded of a particular Simpsons episode where Kent Brockman was depicted unenthusiastically covering a soccer game. Eventually I was forced to switch the language track over to Spanish, which was a lot more enjoyable to listen to. I guess you can’t beat the real deal, when it comes down to it.

Winning Eleven’s faults, though, are minor in size and superficial by nature, so it would definitely be a mistake to let the last two paragraphs discourage you from checking out what otherwise is an excellent and well-produced game. That said, if the upcoming Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer manages to retain the same level quality present in its predecessors while accomplishing more in the graphics and licensing department, then no doubt, there will definitely be a mark on our 2007 calendars when the game is set to release.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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