Hands-onSega Soccer Slam Xbox

Visual Concepts brings its soccer game to the Xbox.

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We recently had a chance to check out a near-final build of the Xbox version of Sega Soccer Slam, Visual Concepts and Blackbox Games' arcade soccer game. Originally released for the GameCube earlier this year, the game is being brought over to the Xbox and PlayStation 2. The Xbox version seems to be shaping up nicely, and it will make a few additions to its GameCube predecessor.

You'll now find five modes in the game: arcade, quest, tourney, practice, and challenge. Arcade mode now offers four game types--quick start, exhibition, hot potato, and brawl--and while the quick start and exhibition game types are self-explanatory (especially if you've played the original game), hot potato and brawl are new additions. Hot potato replaces the ball in the game with a bomb and challenges you to hold on to it for as long as you can before it explodes in order to earn points. Brawl is equally straightforward--you'll just move around ring and beat the health out of your opponents. Quest is the game's career mode, and in it, you'll take a team through a season's worth of games and into the championships. Tourney is a round robin tournament between six teams. Practice will walk you through the basics of playing the game. Finally, the new challenge mode will let you put together your own team by selecting any combination of players from the game's roster and then take your unique trio into a series of matches. If you manage to win four consecutive matches, you'll unlock one of three secret teams that have been added for the Xbox and PS2 versions of the game. It should be noted that the additions to the game extend beyond new modes and characters--Soccer Slam's gameplay has also been tweaked. For example, you'll now be able to power up your deke moves.

Graphically, the game is looking quite good. The colorful cartoony style has translated well to the Xbox, and this version matches the GC version in terms of visual quality. The character animation and detailed stadiums give the game a nice bit of polish.

Judging from what we've seen so far, Soccer Slam for the Xbox is shaping up well. The game compares favorably with the GameCube version in terms of graphics, and its tight gameplay keeps it accessible. Soccer Slam still offers a very addictive multiplayer experience, and its new additions--particularly hot potato and brawl--work well. Sega Soccer Slam is slated to ship for the Xbox next, and the PlayStation 2 version will follow next month.

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