World Tour Soccer '06 PSP Review
First of all, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I am an American. This basically means that I should have as much interest in a soccer game as I would in a game about soft cheeses or competitive opera singing. Second, I must admit that I am not a huge sports gamer in general. The type of sports games that capture my interest are ones featuring wisecracking marsupials or feats of athletic prowess that have nothing to do with real-world physics or the laws of nature. Keep your "NFLs", "PGAs" and "NBAs". If you want to give me a thick, scaly callus on my joystick thumb, there had better be some sort of exploding ball, robotic opponent or mutant space monkey involved. Now that you're armed with that confession, I will tell you that I truly enjoy playing WTS 06.
Including Classic Challenge, there are eleven game modes in WTS 06. Classic Challenge is (much as you might expect) fairly straightforward soccer with the addition of style points, which encourage (and reward) longer and more difficult passes, among other things. Other modes offer challenges ranging from a basketball-style shot clock to a zone-specific passing system. Within each mode, there are eight levels of
difficulty to battle through and as you complete each match (by earning a medal), you unlock the next. Regardless of the genre, I am always a fan of any game that gives you the impression that you're accomplishing something, no matter how meager your skills may be. "Hey! I won a crappy bronze medal and I unlocked a new level! I'm a soccer GENIUS!" Unfortunately, this generous nature also contributes to what I feel is the game's greatest failing: uneven controls.
Please don't misunderstand... it's not as though the controls are bad. As a matter of fact, the controls are nicely precise and feel really natural, but the mechanics of passing are an odd mix of totally forgiving and extremely demanding. Let's say, for instance, that you get into a tight spot and you feel the need to pass the ball to a nearby teammate. Basically, all you'd have to do is point the joystick in the general direction of a bunch of your compatriots and execute a ground pass. You are almost assured of a successful pass on every attempt, even if you didn't have a specific receiver in mind. If, on the other hand, you'd like to perform a flighted pass to a teammate downfield, you'd better pay close attention to both the exact position of that player and the length of time that you hold down the "O" button. I have yet to complete a flighted pass of any length. More often than not, my attempts result in sending the ball out of bounds or into the chest of an eager opponent. Now, don't get me wrong. I think that games can be ridiculously easy or extremely challenging and still be greatly entertaining. I just don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security by the ease of one element of the game, only to find my skills wanting when it comes to another element.
So, will WTS 06 land in the sports gaming hall of fame? Probably not. It seems to lack the in-depth, head office qualities that your typical sports gamer thrives on. On the other hand, if you'd like to get in a bit of footie while on line at the DMV, you could do a lot worse. With intuitive mechanics, a nice array of game modes and its arcade style approach, World Tour Soccer 06 has certainly earned a place in the library of any soccer fan... and perhaps even in the collections of a few non-sporting nerds like myself.
What's Hot: Fairly intuitive arcade-style play. Excellent voice and sound. Nice variety of challenges.
What's Not: Lack of online participants. Uneven controls. Oven-mitt hands and cinderblock heads.