After garnering accolades from Saturn fans in all corners of the world, Worldwide Soccer moves up to the big leagues and tries to tackle the PC world. While the transition to a new platform doesn't dim the fact that Worldwide is a fun and comprehensive soccer game, in the end there just isn't enough there to stack up against the top PC soccer titles on the market today.
There is plenty good about Worldwide Soccer. The graphics are extremely impressive, with huge, atmospheric stadiums, changing weather patterns (including night games), and some exceptional player animations such as goalie dives, side volleys, and (extremely long-range) slide tackles. Gameplay is very smooth, and the AI, despite allowing the ballcarrier to keep the ball for maybe a bit too long without being challenged, is as good as any I've seen for the PC. In particular, the game designers have mastered the difficult concept of playing a ball into an open space, rather than passing it directly to a teammate. It is challenging but doesn't take a miracle to score a goal, and good passing, solid defense, and other basic soccer concepts are rewarded more often than pure kick-and-run tactics. In general, the game is fun, fulfilling, and pleasurable to play.
While all of these factors seem to recommend Worldwide Soccer, the problem is that - with the exception of the advanced passing mentioned above - there is really nothing that sets it above some of the other, more established, PC soccer offerings. The action, while exciting, is a little slower than others on the market. There is a wide choice of teams available, but not as many as in other games on the market. The commentator is glib but lacks the catchy phrasing of others (are you out there, John Motson?). Options such as camera angles, sound effects, and replays, while present, simply aren't as comprehensive as today's PC gamer expects them to be. The sound, in particular, is subpar, with constant repetitive droning from the crowd and distant, muted sounds associated with actions such as tackling and jousts for the ball.
With it's addictive gameplay and unique style (the big screen reads "FORZA!!," accompanied by some odd graphics after a goal is scored), the tools are in place for Worldwide Soccer to repeat the success on the PC that it has enjoyed in the platform world, but there are a couple of old sayings about practice making perfect and big fish and small ponds. The game is strong in the most important areas and certainly above average in the rest, but Sega will find that the leap from Saturn prominence to PC dominance is a large one indeed.