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World Tour Soccer 2003
PS2 Staff Review by Mike Weatherup

Things have not been looking too good for 989 Sports lately. They have struggled from the get-go to bring a solid piece of software to the marketplace for the Playstation 2. At first many thought it was done purposely in order to attract more third party sports development, but now two years later, it is evident that something else is causing the problem. I hope that they are able to savage something out of all of this and their World Tour Soccer franchise, while not perfect, is their brightest spot thus far. Last years game gave us a different perspective to the flashy EA FIFA franchise. The main key was that control and overall fun rated high. This year more of the same has been released. That is not a bad thing, but the overall production value and extras falls much short than the beefed up FIFA franchise.

The visual end of things is mostly average and competent. The game sports new player models that have been redesigned. Motion captured athletes coupled with new player face modelling technology allows players to identify with their favourite international soccer stars. Their movements are also fluid and react according to their skill level. The developers utilized more than 20 various skill categories to assist in making each player unique as possible. The stadiums look nice thanks to the design by the internationally famous architectural company HOK Sport, who is responsible for the design of Sydney Olympic Stadium, Millennium Stadium and more. Each stadium has a fair amount of detail, although I would have liked to see more variance in the crowd and sideline design. Sadly, there are not enough camera angles to choose from. It would have been helpful if players could control the height and distance manually. The presentation is rounded out with your typical play-by-play that needs a lot more variance. The on fields sound effects are competent as are the crowd chants that have been sampled from over 200 club and international teams.

What makes this franchise worth buying is the better than average control system. All of the airplay moves are practical and easy to learn. Instead of having to figure out timing and angle positions, players simply have to get their man to the area and hit one button to perform headers and other air tricks. Although there is not as much variety in manoeuvres as FIFA 2003, the ground game is simple to use and quite effective. You can perform 360-degree spins on defenders or goal saving slide tackles on potential scorers. An updated ball control system allows players to maintain complete control of the ball while passing, shooting and making a run on the goal.

Although World Tour 2003 does not come with a FIFA license, it is blessed with more than 13.500 actual FIFPro licensed players and more than 650 League Club and International Teams. This will be more than enough for the hardcore footie fan. Players can replay the World Championship final or the entire tournament and change the course of history. There are a number of modes here to keep you busy. You can choose to play from any of the five continental Cups or take on the world. The career mode is deep, as you will begin in an English school league as you guide your youngsters to international stardom and a Challenge Mode. Create your own Custom Cup or entire Custom League or take on the greatest teams from decades past in the Time warp Cup and Time warp League. Success will further unlock hidden teams, stadiums and cheats.

History repeats itself, as World Tour Soccer 2003 is a nice alternative to the flashy FIFA 2003 or the technical Winning Eleven series. World Tour 2003 is a great bargain at $39.99 U.S. and definitely worth a look.

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