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Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 (DS) artwork

Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 (DS) review

"A missed crosskick."

Go down most any street in America and you will find people that don't know the first thing when it comes to futbol. (Oh, I love pigskin.) And I am one of those people. The only experiences I have with soccer are with my rebel cousin from Hong Kong who can curse well enough in English given the right soccer scenario; and an authentic Italian pizzeria that decided to close down during the Italy vs. (insert the other team) FIFA World Cup 2006 semi-finals… while I and my friends were still eating in the restaurant.

From these fanatic incidents, I learned just how much people can live and breathe futbol, and if there is one thing that most of these fans agree on when it comes to video games, it is that Winning Eleven is better than FIFA. As my cousin insistently explained, Winning Eleven has the coveted reputation for realism and attention to detail (I can't repeat what he thought about FIFA without a few symbols). Unfortunately, whatever passion he saw in the series on the console makes a missed crosskick over to Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 for the Nintendo DS.

Everything is just basic. From the menus to the modes, the graphics, and the sound, nothing calls for surprise. Aside from the ability to change the ball color from white to gold, blood red, or sea-foam green, all the options one would expect in a soccer game are here, except with no bells or whistles. No weather effects. No choice of time-of-day. No stadium selection. There is just one generic venue in the daytime sun, no matter what countries the teams represent.

But I knew that particularly as a n00b, I couldn't just take everything at face value. Thankfully, the tutorial mode quickly flashed in my eyes, and before long, I dribbled through a fourteen-page guide. Being the ever-seeker of knowledge, I wanted to know all there was to know about chip shots, through passes, sliding tackles, and cornerkicks.

Soon enough, I threw myself into my first exhibition match in the hopes of seeing my efforts translate into something that would tell me why Winning Eleven was up to snuff. It didn't happen. I moved my player forward, passed to another player on the north end, dribbled down, and shot. I had my first goal, and I did it within fifteen seconds. Assuredly, I did play on the easiest difficulty setting, but it was still easier than I wanted. Even I recognized that, courtesy of the slightly unresponsive controls and slightly inaccurate precision that comes naturally from using a D-pad, the spacing between some of the defenders was generous. Opponents sometimes give a fight, but opportunities to reach the penalty box area near the goal always appear. From there, all it takes is a press of the 'Y' button, and a screaming crowd will follow eighty percent of the time. On top of that, the small mini-map of the field doesn't accommodate the constant auto-locking of players which switch often when the opponent is moving the ball. Knowing who I have control over on the defensive end shouldn't be irritating.

As far as licensing is concerned, I'm not one to care about who is actually represented in the game, since the only soccer players I know of are David Beckham and Mia Hamm (and that last one doesn't really matter here). Fortunately, veterans will probably appreciate the ability to edit player's names, so you could create whatever teams you want without much trouble, due largely because every character model essentially looks the same.

But no amount of name changes can compensate for the lack of realistic gameplay, and this rolls over to World Cup mode. This is a shame because as long as this mode is played in short bursts, aiming for the trophy is actually enjoyable. Moving my team up the rankings and then switching in better players takes a skillful amount of effort - just not as skillful as I would have liked. Recruiting new players is also odd; winning matches earns silver and gold coins that can be put into a "gacha get" digitized version of one of those Japanese toy vending machines. And surprise, surprise, the capsules have players inside!

Winning Eleven is a superb game for the console, so let's keep it there for now. If a quick soccer fix on the run really needs satisfying, take a step over to the PSP version, which boasts better visuals and Master League mode. Though accessible, this DS version has nothing that captures the same technical prowess the series is lauded for, nothing that makes wanting to be a futbol fan any more enviable than it is to the American me.

draqq_zyxx's avatar
Staff review by Nicholas Tan (March 04, 2007)

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