While Electronics Arts’ “FIFA Soccer” series
has consistently been one of the world’s best-selling
videogames over the past decade, it has never really been able to
capture the intricacies of the sport like other top-flight EA
games. Konami’s “Winning Eleven” series, on the
other hand, has done extremely well in both Japan and Europe
because of its authentic gameplay. “Winning Eleven 7
International,” the series’ second North American
release, is undoubtedly the most realistic soccer game ever
made.

TV/New Media Reviews
Bending it like Beckham. (Courtesy of Konami)

“Winning Eleven 7” is a detailed exploration of the
genre of sports games, truly capturing the nuances of the sport.
Unlike other soccer games where players just string a few passes
together and fire at the goal, “WE 7” is like real
soccer in that it requires one to have great precision in order to
create scoring chances. This sort of gameplay does make the game
extremely difficult for novices, even ones who have previously
played “FIFA.” But with each blocked goal or bicycle
kick, the gamer feels as if he is watching a top-flight soccer
match.

“WE 7” boasts more than 100 international and club
teams, but just a select few are licensed. Almost all of the
world’s top players are in the game, though, and there are a
number of international tournaments, something “FIFA”
has all-together abandoned. The club teams are based on real
European teams, which can be edited using the game’s
extensive editing tools. Many of the world’s top stadiums are
included as well.

While not containing any actual leagues, “WE 7” does
have a detailed franchise mode called the Master League, where
gamers can build a team in one of four regional divisions and try
to qualify for the Champions League. The Master League has a lot of
exciting features, including an extensive player search feature
that “FIFA” should utilize. Unfortunately, when the
match begins, the game plays with the same players no matter what
team you choose. That, combined with clunky menus and a repetitive
soundtrack, is just inexcusable.

“WE 7” makes up for its faults, though, with
graphics comparable to “FIFA’s” and the feel of a
real game from the time the players walk onto the field. If a 1-0
or 2-1 battle on the “pitch” is not for you, then
“Winning Eleven 7” isn’t either. But for fans of
the world’s game, “Winning Eleven 7” is the best
around.

 

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

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