Club Football Hands-On Impressions

We check out the Xbox version of Real Madrid Club Football at Codemasters' ECTS booth.

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On a recent visit to Codemasters' booth at ECTS, we had the opportunity to check out an Xbox version of Club Football. The version on display even reflected former England captain and star player David Beckham's recent real-life move to the Real Madrid team.

Before we kicked off, the Codemasters representative showing us the game made a point of drawing our attention to the game's player editor utility--the primary purpose of which is to allow players to create a version of themselves so they can play alongside their favorite soccer stars. Generally speaking, such tools are rarely able to deliver anything but a fairly generic player model with matching hair color, skin tone, and build, but the new game's player editor utility goes much further than this. For starters, you'll be able to customize your skills by spending points on no less than 11 attributes, but that pales in comparison with all the options you have available to create your player's appearance. There really are far too many variables to mention, but to give you some idea of just how powerful the editor is, once you've chosen your face from the 25 or so that are available, you can then go in and alter it using sliding bars that relate to such variables as ear size, ear rotation, eye position, nose width, and mouth width. We didn't have as much time with the utility as we might have liked, but anyone willing to invest a little time creating their Club Football alter ego shouldn't find it too difficult to achieve a result they'll be happy with.

Unfortunately, our experiences on the pitch were a little less impressive--in fact, the version of Club Football we played seemed to be running more slowly than the one we played at E3 in May. The game's control system is still extremely close to that of Konami's Winning Eleven series on the PS2, but the game seems an awful lot slower, and, perhaps as a result, we noticed that the CPU players on our team didn't always seem to be on the ball. Using the Winning Eleven-style defend button to automatically send our defenders after the ball didn't seem nearly effective enough to make it feasible, and none of our players were quick to react to danger at either end of the pitch. It's not that Club Football doesn't re-create a good game of soccer, because it does, but it faced rather stiff competition on the ECTS show floor from both FIFA Soccer 2004 and Pro Evolution Soccer 3.

Scheduled for release in Europe later this year, Club Football will almost certainly provide a viable alternative for Xbox owners not wanting to play FIFA, but with so many more soccer games to choose from on the PlayStation 2, it's difficult to think of many reasons why you'd choose Club Football over its competition at this time. For more information on Club Football, check out our previous coverage of the game.

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