World Tour Soccer Hands-On

We enjoy a brief kickabout with the PSP version of Sony's latest soccer game.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Sony Computer Entertainment America was showing off a number of its upcoming PSP titles in San Francisco this afternoon, including a near-complete version of World Tour Soccer. This was the first time that we've been able to get hands-on with the PSP version of World Tour Soccer since it was announced earlier this year, and it's a testament to how close the game is to its PlayStation 2 counterparts, as we were able to pick it up and play without any instruction whatsoever.

In fact, World Tour Soccer for the PSP looks to offer just about everything that you'd expect a PS2 World Tour Soccer game to, including exhibition matches, cup competitions, four difficulty settings, multiplayer support (Wi-Fi), and a challenge mode that awards you points for playing attractive soccer. We couldn't find a career mode, but that's no great loss given the quality of those in previous WTS games. We spent some time checking out the challenge mode, and we liked the way that we could see how many points we were scoring for certain actions (passing the ball forward, using a trick to beat an opponent, and scoring a goal, for example). The points appeared as numbers above our players' heads, which encouraged us to play a very different style of soccer than what was proving to be successful in exhibition matches against other players and the CPU.

Unfortunately, World Tour Soccer currently shares more than a few flaws with its most recently released PS2 counterparts, resulting in unrealistically high-score lines, unbelievable goals, and a distinct lack of ball-passing between teammates. When we tried to play what we considered to be realistic soccer, we were still able to win matches, but the results weren't nearly as comfortable as those that we achieved when we resorted to running a player with the ball from one end of the pitch to the other using tricks and body swerves at every opportunity.

World Tour Soccer's visuals and audio are, unsurprisingly, reminiscent of PS2 entries in the series, although the graphics often look a little better, thanks to the PSP's relatively small screen. We also noticed that the presentation of score lines and match statistics in-game have been redesigned and are now a lot easier on the eyes.

At the end of the day, World Tour Soccer is a handheld game closely based on a series that, in recent years, has been mediocre at best. We had some fun playing Wi-Fi exhibition matches against other event attendees, but the problems with the artificial intelligence that occasionally tainted those games (numerous players standing still with their arms at their sides during play, for example) became more evident when we took on CPU opponents. Expect more coverage on World Tour Soccer as its March release date closes in.

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