Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Maradona. The Final Jeopardy answer for the day. The question is, "Name three people considered to be the greatest soccer players in the world at the time they played." Soccer is the most popular team sport in the world, and its attraction continues to grow for the people in the United States. Striker 96, brought to us by Acclaim, attempts to capture the action and drama of both indoor and outdoor competition. The game succeeds admirably.
Striker 96 offers both low-resolution and a high-resolution graphics versions. If you have a Pentium, definitely check out the SVGA. Dynamic camera angles, gently falling snow, and realistic player motion all bring the game to life. Nice touches also include the effect of spin, wind, and the condition of the field on the ball as it moves. The indoor option is faster paced, but the color choice suggests that the players have decided to conduct their game on hardwood floors rather than Astroturf.
Nothing quite captures the soul of the game like its announcers. No matter what the sport, their comments and analysis bring out the human side of the game. The Scottish commentator in Striker 96 is a perfect example - his wit and enthusiasm are the best sound feature of this game (although they do get repetitive). The crowd chants and player sounds are functional but not spectacular.
Striker 96 offers two play modes - arcade and simulation. While the manual suggests the arcade mode for those new to the game, ignore this advice. Arcade mode is a frantic free-for-all that provides very little time to figure out things like "how to pass" or "who's got the ball?" Simulation mode offers a number of player actions, which can get confusing in the heat of competition. Simplifying the controls would make learning the game easier. Overall, playing in simulation mode does a more accurate job of portraying soccer as it's actually played.
With the exception of one recurring graphics glitch (a frozen screen while the game continues), Striker 96 is a great deal of fun. Strong graphics, solid sound, and good gameplay make this the best of the bunch for now. If you like soccer, pick it up!