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SummarySheer Disappointment. This game was made in 2 weeks.
The GoodLike any sane person that hasn't been completely brainwashed by advertising, I have always preferred Konami's soccer series to EA's. Unfortunately for us DS owners out there, Konami really dropped the ball on this one. In fact the game is so bad I would be surprised if Konami really had anything to do with it. The game isn't completely worthless, there have been plenty footie games that were much worse than this on the Sega Saturn and PS1. But with that said, there has never been a soccer game made by a mainstream company like Konami or EA that satisfied so little. It is 2007 and it looks and plays about as good as a first-gen playstation game.
The BadIt is almost impossible to score in this game, and when you do score, it isn't so much skill as it is luck. The defense gives you plenty space outside the box, since regardless of the velocity or angle, your shot will punched out by the keeper, if you even manage to keep your shot down low enough to even trouble him. Once inside the box you have almost no chance at scoring unless you are on a breakaway with the keeper (and a teammate who stays on-side) simply because the control is so sluggish and the automatic keeper is a monster that seeks out anything inside the box like a blood-thirsty piranha.
Aside from the cheating CPU keeper, the AI in this game is below-par. If you put it on medium or difficult, it will seem like a game of boys versus men. You won't even get a touch on the ball and get nailed 5-0. If you put it on easy, the CPU will do things like run itself out of bounds or tackle you from behind for no reason, which results in a yellow card from the ref and a free-kick for you. And even after you're up 11 men to 9 thanks to all the red-cards you have drawn, you'll be lucky to snag a late winner.
More than likely, the game will go to penalty's where it gets seriously pathetic. Any of the usual skill or excitement you would find in a penalty shootout has been taken out and replaced with a "roll the dice" kind of guessing game. Compare that with EA's FIFA 08 which uses the DS's stylus both for shooting and goalkeeping during penalty kick situations and even some free-kicks. The only thing this game allows you to do with the stylus is to play with the formation a bit. The lousy AI and penalty shoot-out could have been ignored since sports games are meant to be played multiplayer, but the problem is no one will want to play this game for longer than 5 minutes. The control is so bad that you start to hate getting the ball. Ultimately the action is boring and repetitive.
A huge problem with the game is the sound. There is NO COMMENTARY during gameplay. What's up with that? There is no chanting or music you hear to replace the absence of commentary and the sound effects are worthless. You can tell the developers spent 2 weeks on this game when there is only a single sound file for when the ball is hit, regardless if it is a long-range cracker from a world-class striker destined for the back of the net, or just a slow back-pass. The thing that will keep repeating many times a minute is the whistling of the referee, and the "Ohh!!" of the crowd when a player gets fouled or runs out of bounds. *On a side note, Tecmo World Cup on my Sega GameGear has about 5 times the sound content this game does.
While talking about missing content, I must mention this game has almost no clubs. The few they have include Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter & A.C. Milan, Parma, A.S. Roma, Bayern Munich, FC Porto, Celtic, and Rangers. But it doesn't really matter that Portsmouth or West Ham isn't here, or even Real Madrid or Barcelona... and it doesn't matter that the game DOES have plenty of international teams, even the really rubbish ones like Belgium or Chile. It doesn't matter at all since all the clubs, teams, and all the players look and play exactly the same!
This level of simulation might have been okay in 1997 when EA came out with Fifa 98' World Cup. That game had players that looked like blocks, but it was fun to play. It started with a passionate intro video featuring Blur's smash hit "Song 2." It allowed you do fly past defenders by tapping the sprint button, it allowed you to score by stalking the goal keeper while he was sending the ball long distance, and it allowed you to repeatedly tackle opponents from behind without fear of a card.
Winning Eleven doesn't allow you to do any of it! It attempts to be a full simulator (on the Nintendo DS mind you), all the while being a game that was developed in what looks like 2 weeks. What you have is a dull game with very little redeeming qualities.
Not the worst football game you've ever played, but being one of only a few football games on the DS, and carrying the prestigious Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer badge, it falls well short of any expectations you might have had. If you are crazy about the beautiful game, you MIGHT dare pick this up for $5. But after you're done playing, you might not think of it as "the beautiful game" any more...