989 Sports is aiming to expand its sports franchises with its upcoming soccer title, World Tour Soccer 2002 for PlayStation 2. Recently released in Europe as This is Football 2002, the title was developed by SCEE's Team Soho and features more than 300 teams and clubs, including national teams from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Brazil, and England and international clubs from Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and Liverpool. We managed to spend some time with a build of the game, and it's looking very promising.
You'll have three game modes to choose from: quick game, exhibition, and competitions. Quick game is just what it sounds like, a quick exhibition match between England and France that you can hop into with just a few button presses. Exhibition allows you to select from the wide array of available teams and play against the computer or another player. You'll be able to edit your team's lineup and formation before the start of a game. Competitions offer you the opportunity to play through a national season, special competition, or international competition.
If the team selection still isn't enough to satisfy you, a custom teams option will allow you to create your own team for use in the game. You'll able to customize everything from individual players to the team's flag in order to create a team that's right for you. Once your team starts racking up the trophies, you'll be able to check them out in the game's "trophy cabinet," which stores them all for you.
The control is responsive and the layout offers a good variety of moves. You'll move your player with the left analog stick or D-pad and shoot with the circle button--a light tap of the button will give you a low shot, while holding it will perform a flighted shot. In addition, you'll be able to tweak your shot types by using the D-pad or analog stick when shooting. When you've got the ball, you'll be able to launch a short pass with the X button, a flighted pass with the square button, and a through ball with the triangle button. You'll also be able to perform special passes with button combinations and multiple button presses, and you can apply an after-touch swerve to long passes by pressing a direction on the D-pad while passing. Holding the R1 trigger will cause you to sprint, while tapping it will cause your player to knock the ball ahead. The R2 button will cause your player to perform a dive. Tapping the L1 trigger will perform a spin feint, and holding it will perform a stepover. The L2 trigger will shimmy and knock the ball ahead when held and shimmy with close control when tapped. You'll be able to change your team's in-game strategy with the right analog stick or the select button during a game. When defending, your options are a more limited, but you'll still be able to perform a variety of tackles and commit deliberate fouls, so it's all good.
Graphically, the game features clean textures and character models with a solid amount of detail. The stadiums are very well detailed--especially the audience, which can be seen reacting to plays on the field. The animation is smooth for the most part, although there are a few awkward poses here and there. The frame rate remains high regardless of what the action on the field is like, which is always a good thing.
From what we've seen, World Tour Soccer 2002 is looking good and will be worth keeping an eye on. We'll bring you more information as the game's February release approaches.