|Impressively converted from its console counterpart (see entry 416), Winning Eleven kicks just as much footy on the widescreen handheld, with two caveats.|
You get league play, where you can pick a national or club team and take them through seasons. You get quick matches vs the CPU. You get local WiFi play, but here comes the first caveat: no co-op WiFi. Grrrr. That's the only reason why I'd want to play 2P anyway. A major omission, and it doesn't seem like it would have been that much more work, especially considering that in single-player you can designate a second player--controlled by the CPU. Whee.
As usual, the game doesn't have the exact names of the real teams or players, but fortunately there's an edit mode wherein real helpful people put the right names in, and then make the league file available for download on the Internet. Pretty much the first thing I did was go to GameFAQs and download a real roster from some helpful souls. Now I've got Real Madrid with rightly named Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, and company. Yay!
Not that I can call myself a real soccer fan. But hey, I live in America, and we aren't brought up right (aside from being made to play in junior leagues as youngsters). But Zidane rules, even if he does get tired pretty quick. Poor guy. They gave him some great passing moves in this game, though.
The basic move, pass, and shoot controls are pretty simple to pick up. As usual, WE layers in more advanced moves involving multiple shoulder buttons presses, button cancels, and so forth. I'd love to see someone who knew how to use these at work, but as for myself, I mostly just stick to the basics, bump the skill level down a notch, and pick an overpowered team (thus Real Madrid). Pretty soon you look like a real pro vs the CPU, and get to play back slow-mo infinite-angle replays of your goals. Yay!
The game plays good. Real good. Again, I'm not enough of a follower of the sport to be able to pick apart the details, but ball movement is smooth, player animation is fantastic, graphics and sound are pretty realistic, and once you get rolling it really does look like a soccer match you might see on TV (okay, on the pay-per-view because you live in a country that doesn't support the sport itself). You can set a match to play out in as little as ten minutes, and it'll be an action-packed and engrossing ten minutes.
But that's just WE, really. Maybe we should talk about the particulars of this port. Which leads me to my second caveat: loading times. It takes about two minutes from startup to getting to kick the ball, and that's if you blaze through the menus like a meteor. The multiple load times are long and, yes, irritating.
They aren't helped by the interface. I've never been impressed by the usability factor of WE interfaces, and this one is no different: lots of options, confusingly laid out, in all different colors, fonts, and positions, and little explanation as to what they do. And what the hell do those colored arrows mean on the player lists? Even the manual doesn't explain them. Gr. And then it all becomes extra frustrating when you need to, say, pop into the strategy menu (vastly confusing in itself) in mid-game, and have to endure a grinding load time in and out of the menu screen.
But that's about all I can bash the thing for. Once you actually get onto the pitch and kicking the ball around, you'll be in love (although it might be frustrated love until you get a handle on the controls and settings). This game seems to drain the PSP battery something fierce--maybe good games take more battery.
|Oh, and why's they gotta make you pick the language every time you boot up the game. Is anyone really gonna say "Gee, this time I think I'll pick that other language"?|
|Forgot to mention slowdowns! When there are a lot of players onscreen at once, the game can get really chunky. Fortunately this only seems to happen during set plays like goal kicks (when the camera shows your goalie's perspective looking down the field for a moment) and corner kicks. So it doesn't have a huge impact on gameplay, but it would be nicer if it didn't happen.|
|Download added: stink.mpg (4950020 bytes)|
"Here's me stinking it up with (renamed) Real Madrid."
Oh, you can play at three different zoom levels. I use the furthest one, to help me see who's open.