First, a warning: This game is for serious soccer fans. If a hard-fought 1-0 battle doesnt sound like edge-of-the-seat stuff to you, then fire up Madden and let us enjoy this beautiful game in peace. For those still reading, Winning Eleven 7 is as good as it gets. The FIFA series may have a bit more flash, but Eleven is top of the table when it comes to gameplay and thats all that counts with soccer. Youll need a solid passing game to mount any sort of offensive attack, and even then goals are rare. Sky a ball over the crossbar after all the work it takes to set up a shot and youll be more distraught than the suicidal players on the field. But when you do score, its all the sweeter. Although there are no MLS teams and most of the other national league squads are incorrectly named (due to Byzantine licensing rules), nearly all of the players do bear the right names. More importantly, the stars actually play like their real-life counterparts Michael Owens speed borders on the ridiculous, while David Beckham bends kicks like a mofo. But perhaps the best news of all?
I should be writing this review topless. Having just led my team to victory in sudden-death overtime, soccer etiquette practically demands sweaty-shirt removal to further stoke the already delirious fans. WE7brings this level of excitement to every nail-biting match, and the highly skilled A.I. helps preserve the series reputation as the most true-to-life soccer sim. Cosmetic improvements such as spiffi-er player models and animations are just the icing on the, er, soccer cake. Next year, add online play and Ill drop trou.
In Europe, the release of a new Winning Eleven game is a semireligious event for soccer fans, possibly accompanied by red wine and fainting. Here, nobody notices. Too bad, because WE7 is probably the best soccer game yet made, thanks to relatively simple but deep controls and peerless gameplay. Minor gripes: Id like to see a little more visual polish, and I think the menus are still atrociously complicated. Also, curious soccer game newbies, prepare your mind for boggling the initial learning curve can be pretty steep.
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