Winning Eleven 8 kicking off in US on Xbox

Konami's popular soccer title is confirmed for Microsoft's console; star defender Eddie Pope to be the US cover athlete.

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Konami gave US soccer fans something to cheer about today. The publisher confirmed that it will release is wildly popular soccer sim Winning Eleven 8 for the Xbox in the US for the first time. Previous announcements from the publisher said only that the title would be available "for multiple consoles" and the PC. However, the news is not totally unexpected, since the game had already been released for the Xbox in Europe.

Self-developed by Konami, Winning Eleven 8 builds on the furious action of its forbears, adding new free and penalty kicks, as well as a more versatile dribbling system. The game, which sold more than 1 million copies on its first day on the market in Japan, will also feature an onscreen referee, a series first.

In keeping with the franchise's acclaimed realism, Winning Eleven 8 will sport 136 club teams and 57 national teams (including Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands). More importantly, the game contains "photo-realistic" re-creations of 4,500 of the world's top soccer players that will incorporate their individual playing styles. The game will also boast a more advanced statistics system.

Konami also announced that Eddie Pope would be the cover athlete for the US edition of Winning Eleven 8. Currently a defender for Major League Soccer's MetroStars, with whom he has won three MLS Cup Championships, Pope was also on the 1998 and 2002 US World Cup teams. "Steady Eddie" has also been voted the MLS's Defender of the Year twice.

Winning Eleven 8 will arrive on US shores in the spring of 2005 for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. No ratings or prices have been established yet.

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