World Tour Soccer 2003 Preview
The 989 Sports team has been around for a while and is most notably known for its football, baseball, and basketball series. However, last year the team started its very own soccer series, which returns again this year, revamped and refined, looking like a possibly strong contender against similar titles.
Adding to its list of play modes, World Tour Soccer 2003 now features two brand new modes: Career and Challenge -- the former of which is very creative. Taking the meaning of "career" to a whole new level, players will actually start out with just a young, callow school soccer team. Playing one season here, you can vie for the championship at this level, and upon conquering that, you'll then be elevated to the semi-professional league, where you'll be given two opportunities at winning the gold. From thereon, your team will play in the professional leagues, starting at its lowest divisions and ultimately moving up the apex of the professional level. Money is also attainable in the professional divisions and can go toward the buying and selling of players on your roster.
The other new mode, Challenge mode, is also quite creative. You select the team of your choice and compete against the computer in a full game. However, you get scored on many facets of the game, such as passing, defense, and other tangibles and intangibles. Reflected from your overall performance, at the end you'll be scored as well as given a password, which you can in turn log onto 989's web site and see how your score ranked amongst tons nationwide.
The team navigation for selecting a team you like is easily done by its organization. Each team is subdivided by whichever country it's in, so first players can navigate through various countries; then they can chose a given team in whichever country they decide to chose. Unfortunately a MLS license is no where to be found, so players won't be able to play with their favorite major league team. However, they've made cheap clones of each team, with each one containing its accurate players, so not all is lost.
While the game isn't a full-fledged simulation, many of its building components result in a game that's both enjoyable for arcade and simulation fans alike. With tight controls, many different formations and plays, and a whole gaggle of various passes, players will come to grips with the whole set-up rather quickly; and from thereon, players will get the ins outs of the game, as well as what works and what doesn't.
Alongside MLB 2004, World Tour Soccer is yet another upcoming 989 Sports title with a promising premise. If all goes as planned, WTS will launch mid-February. Check back for screens and upcoming details on 989's latest foray in the worldwide-appreciated sport.
12/12/2002 Joseph Comunale