World Tour Soccer 2005 is the latest in 989 Sports soccer line. I haven’t played any previous ones, but I heard that they held their own against the powerhouses of FIFA and Winning Eleven. This year, 989 Sports brings a headache inducing number of teams (over 900) and players (over 18,000 real players) to the table.

The real question is whether it can bring a good enough game to compete with the likes of FIFA and Winning Eleven. Let’s find out.

The close-up player graphics are fantastic and each player looks real, only problem is that they have that zombie look that early PS2/Xbox/Cube versions of Madden had. The graphics during gameplay are pretty good, but I have to put them at a notch below Winning Eleven 7, a game I recently reviewed.

Animations can be very stilted when doing moves. I’ll talk more about the delay in the gameplay section of the review, but needless to say the animations are not all that great when doing something other than running with the ball or on defense.

Environmental effects like rain look pretty good as they pour down on the field, but there really isn’t any effect as the players run through the wet pitch.

The sound is good, but not fantastic. The commentators do a good job, but they seem rather bored by the whole thing. When you put this games commentators against the ones found in FIFA and Winning Eleven, this game falls short. The crowd sounds on the other hand are rather good and 989 Sports supposedly did recordings for well over 100 chants for use in the game. It works rather well and you feel as if you’re part of a soccer game. I have to argue that it is tough for any game to stand up to the sound field of EA’s FIFA games though.

Control is pretty good in the game and they’re easy to get accustomed to. There are a variety of moves that can be done with different combinations of buttons, but for the basic offensive moves we have:

Square – Arial pass
Circle – Shoot
X – Short Pass
Triangle – Throughball
R1 – Speed

On defense, the basic moves are:

Square – Slide tackle
Circle – Block tackle
X – Switch player
Triangle – Two-footed slide tackle
R1 – Speed

Pretty simple, but as with all soccer games there are more robust moves that you can pull off and it’s always a good idea to look at the manual for some of the moves.

The game falls woefully flat in this section because of two things: loading time and delays in button pushes to action on the screen. The first one is absolutely agonizing when compared to Winning Eleven 7 on the same system. The load times take way too much time for my liking and gets very annoying very quickly.

The bigger problem with the game lies in the controls and how they react on-screen. You press a button and the player won’t do the move until he is through with his current animation. In a way, you are putting your moves in a “queue” of sorts. The problem is you have to get used to the delay and not double-press buttons because you will end up kicking the ball to nowhere if you use the Circle button to tackle and then the player boots the ball because Circle on offense is a shot. I found Winning Eleven 7 to be far better in this case and was just absolutely frustrated with the delay of the action. Soccer, to me, is a rather fast game and FIFA and Winning Eleven seem to convey the game better than this game does, even though many would tend to think those two skew more toward arcade-based action over simulation.

Can you overcome the delay in controls? Maybe, but who knows? The game moves pretty fast and you will find yourself pressing the buttons multiple times, especially on defense trying to get the ball away from the player. Outside of this problem the game is rather robust. You can create your own team, players, etc. You can do Cup matches, league season, etc. as well. This game has a lot to choose from, it’s just that the gameplay doesn’t quite stand up to the options available. This is definitely a step down for 989 Sports, who have had a good run going with some good games lately.

The worst thing about the game is that if you play it you will probably want to pull out your copy of FIFA or Winning Eleven and play those games over this one.

The value of this game just isn’t that high because there are better games out there for the same system than World Tour Soccer 2005. If you give the controls time there is a chance you could overcome or live with the delay in button pressing to action on the screen, but I can’t. This game has a lot of teams and players, more than Winning Eleven 7, but is it worth it to have more teams and bad gameplay? That’s up to you.