Reviewed: February 26, 2007
Released: February 6, 2007
The Nintendo DS hasnít exactly been the sports fansí handheld of choice. The dual-screened handheld just isnít made for games like Madden and NBA Live, as Madden isnít as good as the console versions and NBA Live has never made an appearance. The only sports games that find success on the DS star a short Italian plumber, not exactly the typical superstar athlete.
Soccer games are no different. Up until this year, FIFA was the only soccer game to be found. Soccer fans werenít given a choice for the past two years. Play EAís version of soccer or play none, at least for the DS. FIFA only found mediocre success though, as can be expected, given the DSís limited graphical power. The one thing that makes the DS great is the touch screen controls, which unfortunately are only utilized in the menus in most sports games.
Most major consoles have seen success from another soccer franchise over the past few years. The Winning Eleven series has found great success among fans of the sport. Many actually prefer Winning Eleven over its rival FIFA. This year Konami went out on a limb and brought the Winning Eleven series to the DS with Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007. It may not be FIFA but at least it gives fans a choice.
As for a soccer game, it doesnít get any simpler than Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007. From the main menu you can choose one of many options including Match, World Tour, Network Play, and Konami Cup. Each mode brings something different to the table, but none are too original.
You can just jump right in a play a quick game of soccer if you want to. You can start your basic season with your favorite team. You can take your game online and play against other players. You can challenge for the Konami Cup in an elimination tournament. You can even customize your own team and then complete with them. Winning Eleven has quite a few teams to pick from, and each one has a different skill levels. Pick one or create your own and then jump right in. Itís that simple.
There are also a ton of features like the Custom Team feature, which allows you to create your own team with players already on the game. You can take a team already on the game, trade players, rename the team, save it, and then play against other people with custom teams via DS Wi-Fi connectivity.
Once you get into a game it may not be as fun as you think. The mechanics are simple to understand but the actual gameplay can be iffy. The controls arenít what I would consider to be smooth. Running doesnít feel normal. This may be because the D-pad on the DS isnít always the best tool for 3-D gaming. If there was an analog stick the controls would work better, but the DS specializes in touch screen capabilities not analog controls, and the touch controls are only used in the menus like every other sports game.
Everyone in Winning Eleven looks exactly the same. I would have liked to see some differences in the players. There is no variation beyond skin color and hair color. Apparently flattops are in because every player has one. Every player is the same height, and each playerís face looks the same. They all move the same, kick the same, and celebrate the same. Can you say communism?
Environments are lacking in any kind of texture. The fields are flat. The crowd looks bland. There isnít much I can say that is positive about the way this game looks. The only thing that I can say: the DS isnít by any means a graphical powerhouse and it shows. The shortcomings of the graphics may have more to do with the limitations of the DS and less to do with the developerís sloppy work. That, sadly, is the only good thing that I can say.
No Announcing!? Need I really say more? The music is ok, but what is sports game without announcers? Even some boring, repetitive announcing would have been a plus to the audio found in this game. The only kind of announcing is the scream of ďGOOOOAAALĒ when someone scores. Your ears will be bleeding at the end of a high scoring game, after hearing the word goal screamed ten million times. Maybe it just seems that bad because there are hardly any other sounds to be heard. Even the so-called diehard soccer fans in the stands donít make much more noise than a mouse. Those posers!
If you own a PS2, Xbox 360, or even a PSP, donít even mess with the DS version. It is without a doubt the worst version. Sports and the DS just donít go together. If the only gaming platform that you own is the DS and you have to play a soccer game then buy FIFA. This just isnít the same quality game as on the major consoles.
Before now EA had the DS for itself when it came to sports simulations and in my opinion it should have stayed that way. Konami should keep its superstar soccer experience off of this dual-screened handheld, and leave it to EA to make mediocre sports titles. After all, EA has grown a reputation for doing just that.