RedCard 2003 Preview

Find out what to expect from Midway's upcoming soccer game for the Nintendo GameCube.

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Midway is currently putting the finishing touches on its arcade-influenced soccer game for the GameCube, RedCard Soccer 2003. What makes RedCard similar to the company's other unconventional sports titles--the NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, and NHL Hitz series--is its focus on aggressive, full-contact gameplay, which translates remarkably well to the game of soccer. While RedCard features a wide variety of international teams to select--52 in all--EA's FIFA series easily outweighs it in the auxiliary features department, so the main draw in RedCard is instead its potential for high-scoring, high-impact play and its enjoyable arcade-style pace.

While most of Midway's sports games have taken the exaggerated route in their conversions--like two-man basketball teams--RedCard almost appears to have been developed purely as a simulation-oriented soccer game, with solid fundamentals and basics. Instead of the miniaturized lineups of the other sports games, RedCard makes use of a full 11-man roster, with situational formations and other standbys of modern soccer games. RedCard doesn't lay claim to the official FIFA license, but it does have an abundance of appreciable features that you'd expect from a licensed game, such as real player names and detailed character models representing them, a variety of play modes (including alternate weather effects), and authentically re-created real-world stadiums. There is also a varied selection of gimmick teams available, including such types as Dolphins, Martians, Ninjas, Matadors, and Apes, which should entertain those who prefer more arcade flavor in their sports games.

Famous Major League Soccer players are available, such as Brian McBride.
Famous Major League Soccer players are available, such as Brian McBride.

RedCard Soccer 2003 sticks to the Midway Sports tradition with a turbo meter, which let players run faster and puts extra versatility into each player's offensive and defensive moves. Also available to players is a boost meter, which allows for special moves. A full boost meter can be used to perform a super goal kick, complete with slow-motion instant replay and panning camera view. This, of course, is in addition to the game's standard complement of jukes, hurdles, and slide tackles. With all these abilities and a name like 2003, it seems that RedCard is deliberately going for a high-scoring type of affair, and from what we've seen, the game may display a definite propensity for goals.

While there are a lot of options available to the offensive player, scoring can be difficult due to the game's trademark lenient refereeing, which allows for hard-hitting defensive work. This may be RedCard 2003's most noteworthy element, because even though scoring plenty of goals is lots of fun for those who find traditional soccer games slow-paced, what most players will remember after playing RedCard are the punishing hits that defensive players can lay on the opposition, whether or not they're controlling the ball. Slide tackles, jumping kicks, hip checks, and other context-sensitive actions can all be used frequently to flatten opposing players, and more often than not, they can send them tumbling head over heels. If the PlayStation 2 version is any indication, the system will end up being similar to NBA Showtime's, through which players can often knock down their opponents to take the advantage but can end up paying with penalty kicks (similar to the free throws awarded in Showtime).

While there are real world players, there are also arcade-styled gimmick teams.
While there are real world players, there are also arcade-styled gimmick teams.

If the GameCube version of RedCard 2003 takes after the already released PlayStation 2 version, the game should run at a solid frame rate. The players in RedCard are brought to life with real-time shadowing, which is definitely a nice touch. RedCard automatically makes use of a couple of shifting camera views for different situations--starting relatively close up at midfield, zooming out as the ball is handled, and shifting to an angled behind-the-back perspective when taking corner kicks or a shot on goal. Scoring a goal will cut to a close-up of the jubilant player, often in the familiar routine of racing across the field in joy and then sliding on his knees.

RedCard Soccer 2003 will feature a variety of play modes, including friendly matches, a party mode in which multiplayer tournaments can be set up, and the world conquest mode, in which players can take on all other teams. To win the finals mode, players will have to take on challenging international teams in a competition for the Cup championship. Players will also be able to make use of the game's create-a-team feature and collect attribute points through the single-player game.

RedCard looks like a strong step in the direction of realism for Midway sports games while still nicely balancing this with Midway's aggressive style of games. Stay tuned for more on Midway's promising game as it approaches release.

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