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Adidas Power Soccer 98 (PSX) Review

Background Info

Power Soccer 98 is the sequel to the first Power Soccer, and is trying to capitalize on the hype surrounding the World Cup, and is looking to dethrone the FIFA and ISS games from the top of soccer video games. Does this game make the grade? Well if I answer that now that would spoil the whole review--just read the darn thing.

Graphics : 72
This was the low-point of the first Power Soccer, and sadly, PS98 doesn't improve greatly on them. The still graphics (shots of the stadiums during load times) are excellent, the game intro is graphically spectacular (if not a little boring after a while) and the--ugh--commercials in the game (stills and videos) are also very nice. Hmm...what does that leave out: oh! THE IN-GAME GRAPHICS! The graphics are choppy at times, and can get very slow (when more than 6 or so players are on screen at one time...too bad soccer is played with 22 men + a ref on field at once). When the camera zooms in for throw-ins, goal kicks and corners, the ground seems to fracture, with polygons popping out everywhere, giving the game an unfinished look. That being said, the actual player graphics are not that bad, resembling the FIFA games from EA, and they are animated fluidly. The goal dances are beyond lame, although the players argue with the ref, pushing him around, and that's pretty cool. My main problem with the sub-par graphics is that they are so slow. I couldn't care less whether the graphics are beautifully refined polygons, as long as they are decent (which they are in PS98) but I do want them to be fast.

Audio : 75
The audio is nice, with nice, non-repetitive crowd noise, authentic sounding sfx, like the sound of the ball ringing off the post, or the slap of the gloves and ball when a goalie makes a save. The music is good, and does not distract or annoy, and the audio from the video commercials for adidas are exactly like their TV counterparts. So far, the audio gets really high marks. What brings it down to a 75 out of 100 is the absolutely disgraceful "play by play." It isn't really play by play, but more of random, inane commentary by an annoying English guy. He says things like "The game is just underway" a few seconds into the game, as if we couldn't figure that out. In the middle of an end to end rush by "Canaldo" he'll say something like "If this field could talk, it would be about the great matches which have been played here in the past." Most everything is off topic, and the only time I found the commentary referring to something on screen was when he said something stupid about a goal celebration. The best option in the game is that of turning the commentary volume down to 0.

Interface/Options : 90
This is the best part of the game. That doesn't usually mean much to gamers, but oh, well. The only annoyance is that the menu options are little pictures, instead of words (ie: instead of "Offsides Off/On" it is a little picture of an offside player, with a red X for no offside and a green arrow for offside) though it does say in tiny letters at the bottom of the screen what the option is. You can customize virtually every aspect of the game you like (aside from turning off the advertisements ;) and they even give you the cool option of "centering" the screen. This helps, especially with a small screen, as you can get the image in the right spot. Saving is fast, and you can alternate between slot 1 and 2 (which really helps if you've run out of space on one card), but the game only lets you save 1 "season" of data per card, or it overwrites: for example, you'd need 2 separate memory cards to save a Bundesliga season and the World Cup, whereas games like NHL 98 let you save World, Playoffs, and Season all on the same card.

Gameplay : 76
This game is NOT a simulation. It is arcade through and through. What other soccer game gives you the option of a "jump kick" to attack other players? The game does get painfully slow, which takes away from gameplay, but it is still fun to play. There is a nice trick move called the "flick" where you chip the ball over your head and then volley, regain control or head it. Passing is good, with the option of short or long passes, and through-balls, give-and-goes are all easy to perform, and the passing is also more accurate because a little "x" shows on the field where the ball is going to land. That makes corners and free kicks much easier to perform. The speed burst is good, especially considering you can lose control of the ball during the burst (most soccer games have the ball glued to your foot). The main problem with the control is that the shot and pass power meters don't seem to correspond with distance or power, with a tap on the long pass button creating a huge blast, and holding it to max gets it blocked because of the lack of power. Shot aiming is also poor, as you can't aim for corners properly (unless it's a PK or in the shootout). One good/bad thing is that goalies are excellent. This is good in that really pathetic goals, or repetitive money goals, are very rare, but it is bad in that you can be Ronaldo (or Canaldo as they call him: no FIFA license), all alone, full power on the shot, and the 2nd string goalie for Turkmenistan will still stone you. The easy mode is actually easy, and the more difficult modes are actually more difficult, which is nice, as some games seem to forget that distinction. Psygnosis has made PS98 Analogue compatible, which is nice, and makes the control a little smoother.

Difficulty : 82
The computer AI isn't that great, but the game is still challenging because of the insanely awesome goaltending. Holding down the speed burst button, with the occasional zig-zag will get you from your side of half to the 18 yard box, for a clear, powerful shot. Of course, even if you were shooting from 7 feet away on the worst goalie in the game, he'd still stone you. Most goals, above 80% of the time, are rebound goals, meaning the goalie makes the save, deflects it, and if you are lucky, you'll time a sliding volley at the right time for a goal. All in all, I'd rather have a game that was too hard than too easy, and PS98 is a fairly difficult game, meaning lots of replay value. Of course, being a sports game, it is always better to play games 2-player, and that holds true for PS98.

Overall : 78
This game is hard to rate "overall." It has all the marks of a great game, but spoils it with slow gameplay. The slow gameplay and graphics mean it must finish behind the FIFA games for PSX. With the slight tinkering of the graphics engine, this game could have been excellent, but in lieu of fast gameplay, it falls to the wayside. Final detraction would be that of adidas. Every load screen is an adidas ad. That gets really frustrating after 2 or 3 loads. The video commercials are great looking, and very interesting, but they too get annoying after you've seen them a few times. What really bugged me is that at the controller select screen, if you press start to begin the game, it starts a countdown of 10 seconds. Then, there is an adidas commercial, then another load screen, then the game. So, what was the long, boring 10 second load for? The commercial! Why the hell would I want to play a game where they put a commercial over the players enjoyment. Stick with FIFA : RTWC 98 or World Cup 98 if you want true soccer enjoyment.

By: Shanny 6/18/98

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