Soccer, or in the rest of the world "football", could easily be described as one of the most popular sports in the entire world. Probably the most dominant sport in most of Europe, we here in the States really don’t see much soccer action, yet most of our youth play the sport. As confusing as that may be, the video game always seem to be pretty popular and there is a serious battle for the top soccer game. We have seen EA’s FIFA be pretty successful and even Sony’s World Tour Soccer has been impressive as well. So now we get to take a look at Konami’s shot at the goal with World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International.
Over the past few years I have checked out Konami’s Winning Eleven series and it surprises me each year how well the game plays and especially how realistic the series has been. It always surprises me how the game just makes such a lifelike resemblance of the game of soccer. One thing about Winning Eleven 7 last year was that in my eyes it just really did not provide us gamers with enough innovation. With that being said the game was still an excellent soccer experience that still competed for the top spot for soccer games.
So now we have Winning Eleven 8 for the Xbox, which is a first for the series as previous iterations have only been released on the PS2. And how does this game differ from previous games and what do I think about this latest installment? Well one thing just has not changed since the series came to the US, and that is the lack of soccer license rights that the game contains. It’s unfortunate that Winning Eleven 8 didn’t add much in terms of in terms of these licenses, as I know a lot of the fans are really hoping for some licenses. But of course if you’re really into it you can manually enter all of your favorite stars names.
One thing that is new this year is the onscreen referee, which just basically mean that the referees are on the field while you are playing, something that has never been done in the series. Ok so what is the big deal of having referees in the game? Well actually a big one first off it adds to the realism of the game but also it does what referees are known to do and that is get in the way. In the game you will find that the refs actually do just that - getting in the way and also throw out plenty of yellow and red cards. Is this a major upgrade, no, but is it a good one, yes.
Having played the last few releases of Winning Eleven (6 & 7), I have seen many changes to the gameplay system, some good and others bad, but this latest one has been really rewarding for the game. I think the biggest change to the overall system is the pace, which has been altered a bit. The game puts more of an emphasis on individuals rather then what the game has always been known for teamwork and setting up shots. Now I am not saying that is no longer important here, but the game just puts a little less emphasis on it this year.
So we have the gameplay, which has been altered a bit, but to be honest the core gameplay which is a pure soccer simulation is still very much intact. So we move on from how the game plays to the various modes the game offers, which are plentiful. Probably the most thought of is the Master League, which is a fancy way of saying the franchise mode. The one thing different this year is that you don’t have to (but still can) start from the bottom, which means you want have to try to coach the bottom of the barrel, but instead you get to choose any team and then get the same sort of control over the team as you have had in years past. There really haven’t been any major changes in the formula, which is fine since the formula has always been a great one.
Alright so let’s sum this up for you all, Winning Eleven is a much defined series that once again comes through in a big way. The changes made to the game aren’t gigantic, but since this is the first year for the Xbox a lot of you wouldn’t know anyway. The one thing that is missing though is Xbox Live support, which if we are lucky will happen in the next version. With that being said everything else about Winning Eleven 8 is superb, it truly is an excellent playing soccer game.
Although this is the first year for Winning Eleven to be on the Xbox, the PS2 version has always been a very good looking game, with always a very distinguished look that has been present since Winning Eleven 6. So does that translate into a distinguished Xbox title?
Well with Winning Eleven 8 we are given a game that has been solely on the PS2 and in its first effort on the Xbox is trying to compete with FIFA. And to be honest their first try is impressive, but not as good as I was expecting. The game has very nice looking character models but there just doesn’t seem to be a very distinct look to them, as while you play the game they just seem sort of bland. The environments (stadiums) are probably the most impressive as they offer the most detail and color. I was just disappointed that we didn’t see more work done to the character models as I think they really could have been done a lot better.
With all of that being said the game still offers up quite a bit of graphical flair to compete with the other soccer games on the market and does offer up a very nice looking game, that just leaves some room for improvement.
Winning Eleven 8 is one of those games that if you enjoy watching or playing the game of soccer you will thoroughly enjoy this game. Why you may ask? Well that simple, this is one of the best soccer games out on the market today due to its realistic gameplay and very deep control system. The game also has a very nice pace to it that provides fun for both single and multiplayer (up to four players). For those fans of the series the core gameplay is intact just some upgrades to the system that really impressed me and made the experience one of the best I have had this year.
Winning Eleven 8 is another great game to add the Winning Eleven library, and in my opinion the best soccer game on the Xbox to date. For those of you Xbox fans out there who have been searching for a soccer game, Konami has answered your prayers with Winning Eleven 8, an excellent soccer experience.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.