The cycle of soccer video games reaches its pinnacle every four years, as the industry looks to parlay the momentum of the World Cup into increased sales from those looking to play the game on the virtual field.
World Tour Soccer 2006 ($40 for PlayStation 2), a 989 Sports production, is the first in an array of titles that will be released before the opening game of the World Cup next summer in Germany.
Soccer video games have tried for years to find a niche in this country, but seemingly always end up pushed to the side in favor of the next hot football or basketball game. There's a reason for it: Most soccer video games aren't better than other sports games in the first place.
And World Tour Soccer 2006 is a prime example. Who needs teammates when your sweeper can dribble the ball coast-to-coast, weaving his way around defenders like they are the bright orange cones used in soccer practice?
Why pass to your computer-assisted teammates when they aren't reliable? And what good is listening to the game's commentators if they have a tendency to be repetitive?
What makes World Tour Soccer 2006 frustrating is that it has the pieces to make a game that rivals EA Sports' FIFA Soccer 2005, the best soccer game on the market. World Tour Soccer 2006 has more than 935 international and club teams, 19,000 licensed players -- America's Clint Mathis is unstoppable, trust me -- from 32 leagues and eight international tournaments for you to win.
World Tour Soccer 2006 does have a good career mode, where you start with essentially a high school team and work your way up the ranks through the semi-professional league and eventually to the professional level. Winning games earns you money to buy players on the transfer market, who might be just what you need to conquer the soccer world.
-- Jon Gallo