World Tour Soccer '06

We check out Studio London's second portable footy outing.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 24, 2006
Poor, poor World Tour Soccer '06, you were like the red-headed stepchild at Sony's pre-E3 showing. With games like LocoRoco and Killzone: Liberation flanking you, nobody seemed to pay any mind -- even Lemmings got more love. But, had all these heartless game editors shown you just a bit more love, they would have been surprised to find you were not only more or less done, but you were rather fun to play too.

Okay, fine, so we were just as bad. 10 minutes with a portable soccer game is certainly not enough time to appreciate the nuances and improvements over last year's game, but to be honest, we didn't need all that much time to see how the game is increasingly becoming something of an arcade-style version of the console counterpart, and -- shocker -- that's not a bad thing.

It would seem Studio London, WTS' developer, understands a little something about the PSP in that it's certainly capable of doing a portable version of console footy, but it isn't necessarily needed -- especially with EA happily kicking out a PSP port of FIFA. Instead, the developers worked something of a running mini-game into the mix with the first game, and they've brought it truly to the fore in this latest follow-up.

Re-tooled to deliver something of a bite-sized handful of experiences rather than an hour long match WTS essentially tracks everything you do and doles out points based on your performance. Sucessfully cross or complete a through pass or a touch and go and you're rewarded with points. Conversely, if the ball is taken, a goal is scored against your team or a pass is intercepted, you'll get docked.

All of this comes into play during the game's World Tour Mode, which sets you up with a handful of challenges that will force to you play with a different set of basic skills. Rack up enough points, and you'll move on to the next challenge, and take with it more aggressive and intelligent teams, working your way up the ladder. You can still play one-off games in the Play Now Mode, which randomly generates matches for you, and Medal Mode is something of a traditional Exhibition game (though those are in there too for the purists), but overcoming the challenges is where the bulk of the game comes into play.

The challenges are broken down into 10 categories: Classic (the basic points-for-performance gameplay we described earlier), In the Zone (you're forced to play in specific areas of the pitch to build points), Challenge Plus (specific moves at certain points in a match yield a huge bonus), Outnumbered (yes, you're outnumbered), Time Attack (rack up a certain number of points before time runs out), Pass Clock (limited possession for all players forces lots of passing), Checkpoint (the clock counts down while navigating through dribbling gates), Shot Clock (dribble and shoot before time runs out), Tag (pass to pre-set players on your team before shooting) and All-Rounder (pass to all players before making the shot or it doesn't count).

Here's the thing, though: the few challenges we got to play were a blast -- and most of us in the office don't even play soccer games (well, except for Matt, who's a psycho soccer fan). It's a refreshingly new approach to conveying what it, at its core, a very solid game of soccer. Studio London made the right move in approaching things from a quick-and-easy perspective while adding in a style of gameplay that's unlike any other portable soccer game out there. If our initial impressions of the game hold up after a while, this could very well be a soccer game people who don't like soccer games.