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International Superstar Soccer 2

Review - ISS2 sits down with the gaffer and has a bit of face-to-face

It looks like football, dunnit?

Chat with the boss

Ah, ISS2 lad, I've been expecting you. Take a seat. Now, I'm afraid we've had to reject your application for best football game ever. I'm sorry son, but in the areas of control, authenticity, graphics and AI, your big brother Pro Evo still has you beat. I know you were hoping to come up with a nice arcadey alternative, but it hasn't happened. Even at its lowest level, Pro Evo is yer daddy. Fortunately for you though, things are looking up with your latest outing. I'm impressed by the speed at which you move, particularly at your ability to get on with the game instead of wasting half a minute per stoppage, and in addition I like your player modelling, which in terms of size, facial expressions, mouths, eyes and whatnot actually outdoes FIFA!

What I would say you need to work on is the lack of close control exhibited throughout, the repetitive long shot-save-corner cycle and the number of options for custom leagues. I also think you could do with a custom cup feature, especially since you've only gone and popped up five minutes prior to World Cup 2002! You also need to tone down your excessively flamboyant interface; I mean, we all like a bit of glitz, but let's not waste the player's time, eh? And furthermore, that repeating grass texture with LOD .. it looks like that late-night snowstorm effect off the TV. I'm not kidding, lad.

Perhaps the most aggravating aspect of your application though is the things you've almost got right. You've opted to include a practice mode, but surely you need a keeper? And what's all this constant restarting from the centre spot? Daft if you ask me, pal. You've tried to get some commentary sorted out I see, but John Champion is a tit who can't string words together at the best of times, and in your application he's a tit who repeats the act of not stringing the same words together over the course of several minutes. Mark Lawrenceson was a good choice though, even if he also repeats himself quite often.

Havin' a say in the coin toss is a nice idea, but perhaps a bit pointless

It's not all doom and gloom, son!

Chin up though, eh? I like the way your app feels, even if the camera bobbles a bit in the close-up sections, and if you ask me, using the same control system as Pro Evo was a stroke of genius. I knew exactly how to play it from the first whistle, and it's not often I can say that! The lack of a learning curve for people who've had a go with ya before is going to be a big plus point 'ere, because most of us just want something accessible to kick about during the World Cup, and you can fill that hole marvellously. Okay so you don't have as much transition animation as Pro Evo, but who does? You've still got some top player models on your side and you've got the way the ball and the keeper move more or less spot on.

And okay, your AI is pretty dreadful, refusing to run towards the most obvious of balls with no excuses about the stats being responsible, but at least it's consistent. It's hard to beat them on the toughest level, even for a Pro Evo vet' like me! You've got all the world's teams, even if only 'alf the players have their real names thanks to FIFPro, and you can pick your ref, your stadium, your match length and all that. It's a nice package. Slap it into multiplayer and there's a real hoot to be had, too.

The best bit of the whole game though is your free kick and corner system. The 'orizontal power bar looks stupid to begin with, but it's really versatile. You pick yer direction and the height you want to hit it, then you hit the button once to set the ticker movin', another time to choose the power behind it and then once again when it comes back to the start to actually boot it, with the final cursor position on either side of the starting point adding the curve. Different players have different skills in this area, and it's much better than the virtual lack of an interface in Pro Evo…

Final score

You know son, I think there's a market for you out there, I just don't think you should have aimed so high. You've not got the legs on your brother, and all this fancy pants dilly-dallying with grass textures and interface is a red herring. You're quick and accessible though, which is a darn sight more than some others I could mention, and you're the only game I've seen where a Beckham free kick looks like a Beckham free kick beyond the run-up, and even hits the back of the bloody net half the time too. Lots of goals, lots of glamour and nippy gameplay. Enough? Not up to you now, lad...

7 / 10