Winning Eleven 7 Review

Considered by many to be the best soccer series around, Konami has graced us with World Soccer Winning Eleven 7 International recently. This is actually my first experience with the Winning Eleven series, but after hearing how great the whole series is I just had to try it. I played a lot of EA Sports FIFA games in my day, but I certainly was not prepared for the excellence of this game.

The graphics aren’t the most fabulous thing about this game. Close up shots of the players are really good. For example David Beckham looks just like the real thing. Now I may be incorrect in saying this, but I always thought the Winning Eleven series didn’t have actual players in it and you had to edit the names to the correct ones. Maybe I’m thinking of another series…who knows.

Overall play graphics are also on the good side. The animations of the players are excellent and their ability to do quick cuts and everything ties directly into their attributes. You can certainly tell the difference between more and less agile players. The problem is that the camera seems too far back and the players themselves are too small. Sure, I can point out the Owens and Beckhams by the length of their hair (or lack of it) and jersey numbers, but it’s hard to discern from high up which player you are passing to if you want to pass it to a key player. The environment effects such as rain, wind, etc. are well done on this game as well, although I didn’t really see any difference in field conditions as games went on, but maybe I wasn’t looking closely enough.

The replays (of which there are a lot during a game) are very jag filled outside of the players themselves. The replays don’t look horrendous, but you can see the jaggies.

Although not presented in Dolby Pro Logic II or Dolby anything, the sound in this game is very nice. Some reviewers have complained about the crowd being too loud during presentations, but maybe they’ve never seen any English Premier League games on television or anything…those crowds can get quite loud.

It’s also cool to hear the clamoring on the field when players get taken down by a tackle and stuff. Sometimes they get really pissed at the refs because they didn’t give the offender a card. The announcers, Peter Brackley and Trevor Brookings, are very good commentators as well. Soccer can be a pretty fast sport at times and they keep up with the action very well.

Control is nice and tight, which is something that is always needed in soccer games. The controls are pretty simple as well:

On offense:

Left analog stick – move
Square – shoot
X – short pass
Circle – long pass/centering
Triangle – through ball
R1 – dash
L1 – switch players

On defense:

Left analog stick – move
Square – clearance/pressure
X – apply pressure
Circle – sliding tackle
Triangle – goalkeeper charge
R1 – dash
L1 – switch players

Obviously those are just the basic moves, you can also do some combinations of buttons to pull of things like feints, bending, etc.

First off I need to talk about what is bad with this game. The menus are absolutely horrendous. There is literally a boatload of options in this game and although they are presented to you in a useable fashion, they could have added a little spice to the menus like EA Sports does for the FIFA games. The menus are easy to traverse, I just wish they made them look better or made all the options a bit more clear.

Now for the game itself, it has to be the best game of soccer I have played in video game form ever, even better than the FIFA games I have played. You have 6 different things to choose from right off the bat: Match Mode, League mode, Cup mode, Master League mode, Training mode, and Edit mode. All of them are pretty self-explanatory, but the key one is the Master League mode. This is where you find the meat and potatoes.

In Master League mode you pretty much take control of a whole team. You have control over trading players, acquiring other players, playing the games, etc. It is kind of like Owner’s mode in Madden 2004, minus the ability to set prices on concessions and seats. Master League mode at first is very overbearing and the horrid menus don’t help it in the least. Once you start to understand what is going on you start to like it. The only problem is that there are made up players on the clubs represented (AC Milan is here, but no Manchester United or Real Madrid) and the manual even says that they’re the same players no matter which team you pick. Going through this mode you play a lot of games in order to get to the championship of the league. It may not be as broad as FIFA‘s club setup and stuff, but it is pretty fun.

Speaking of the gameplay itself, the AI in this game is magnificent. You can change the difficulty level from 1-5 stars. 1 star means the computer pretty much lays off of you and it’s at 3 stars where the computer starts to get difficult and will be on the ball like hawks. It’s nice to have a difficult soccer game to play and you have to really become a master at passing, centering, corner kicking and the rest in order to be good at this game. I do have a minor problem with foul kicking and corner kicking though. It uses a power bar to shoot and you have to get good at it in order to not overpass your target or underpass him. There can be a lot of cool goals to score via foul kicks and corner kicks, you just have to know how high to let the bar go.

Overall this is a very fun soccer game.

With the Master League mode you will find hours of entertainment in this game. I found myself glued to the screen just playing this game. You also have to work on your skills because the computer will own you on 3 star difficulty if you just dribble the ball with one player down the field. You have to get good at passing, it’s your greatest friend.

Much like other sports games, your replay value depends entirely on how much you like the sport and how much time you wish to put into editing players, uniforms, playing games, doing everything in Master League mode, etc. It is also a great game to play with friends and you can have up to 8 people playing this game…sounds like a great multiplayer game to me.

Also at $40 you really can’t go wrong.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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