E3 06: World Tour Soccer '06 Hands-On

World Tour Soccer '06 is on show at Sony's PlayStation Portable booth, and we get a hands-on with the game ahead of the June release.


LOS ANGELES--World Tour Soccer '06 is on show at the PlayStation Portable booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and we went in straight away to investigate this handheld football game. Currently 90 percent through development, the game is due for release in June 2006, and we had a hands-on play before the show doors opened.

Jumping straight into the classic challenge mode, the game is all about playing stylishly and will award points based on your performance. Making basic passes will earn you between 10 and 30 points, which will appear above the recipient player's head. At halftime, we were told that our target score was 500 points, but our lackluster passing and 0-0 draw meant we earned a measly 325.

The controls in the game are reminiscent of most major football titles, and it can be played with either analogue or digital control. Depending on offense/defense, triangle is used for either a through ball or a goalie rush; square is shoot or slide tackle; circle is cross or block tackle; and X is pass or switch player. The left shoulder button is used as a skill toggle, so if you hold it and press one of the face buttons, the player will feint, shimmy, or knock the ball forward. Do this in front of an opposing player for a point bonus. The right shoulder button is used for running if you hold it down, while a tap will knock the ball forward.

While the players are modeled in fairly low detail, the animation is excellent and makes the game a lot of fun to play. It plays more like Pro Evolution Soccer than FIFA, with both shooting and cross power based on how long you hold the relevant button down. The point system keeps your play focused and makes you try to use the skill button more than you otherwise would. Presentation is nothing that would worry the FIFA series, but replays are handled with slick video transitions. There are no referees or linesmen to see, but if you make a particularly vicious tackle, you can see the player stay on the ground for a number of seconds. The stadium detail is very basic though, with no crowd animation aside from the odd camera flash, and the substitute animations are very basic, with the new player simply jumping up and down on the sideline.

The strategic changes you can make are limited, but they're simple to find and nicely presented. In the team management menu, you can select your players, make substitutions, and see their attributes. The attributes are split into four categories, those being physical, technical, mental, and goalkeeping. Also, you can see individual player ages, height, weight, and footedness. The player positions are also mapped out on the pitch, so you can see which areas each individual is covering, although if you use the far camera mode in-game, you can see the majority of players onscreen.

We'll have more on World Soccer '06 soon, as the game is due to hit stores next month.

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