I've had to play a lot of soccer games recently, some good SEGA SOCCER SLAM and WOLRD TOUR SOCCER - some mediocre - RED CARD 20-03 - but not any as bad as VIRTUA STRIKER 2002 for the GameCube.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, maybe I should have some soccer spirit given the U.S. team reaching the quarters in the World Cup. Or maybe I'm just saying that VIRTUA STRIKER is fundamentally flawed in the gameplay department and with the exception of managing a team, is nearly zero fun to play.
Am I spoiled? I've had my fast-action SOCCER SLAM for months now, and my friend David and I are still playing that game almost daily. I'll be honest: I hadn't ever had a chance to try out VIRTUA STRIKER, but I thought it had promise, an arcade/simulation game. Seems like a good combination. My enthusiasm was at its highest point as I took over a team and began scheduling training camps and exhibition games. Essentially, in the International Cup mode, your goal is to get to the tournament in four years. It was all going great, I was spending my points on camp and on games, and even on an overseas trip to play some other teams.
Then I played my first game.
Maybe you'll like the way it's set-up. Here's a brief synopsis: you have no directional control over the players. Point, set and match. That was it for me. There's only so many times I want to only be able to barely affect the movement of my players, change my offense, force a pass, slide tackle or shot, and essentially watch my team throw the game away. It was frustrating, it was mindboggling... and had I not been playing with a WAVEBIRD controller, I might have chucked mine across the room. I had no fun with the game... so many times a burst of turbo, or a sharp turn would have kept the game a bit more interesting and every time I just ended up more pissed off about the end result.
I can't understand who would like a game like this. Maybe I'm just too used to the whole tight control concept in my sports games, the feel of total power over the players. Maybe this is something the Japanese appreciate much more. I think finding an American gamer with the taste for this sort of thing is going to be very difficult.
From a graphics standpoint, the game is very pretty. It's an arcade game, and has some nice animations, good looking stadiums and a very nice presentation. Overall the game looks pretty good on the GameCube and is one of the better looking soccer games that I've seen.
While the graphics are strong, the sound definitely isn't. You get some wonderful department store type music while scheduling, or playing a training camp game. Audio commentary during a match is almost non-existent. I've never felt so lonely playing a sports game. No control of my players, no commentator making fun of how bad I suck, no friends who were willing to play this poor excuse for a game.
Quite simply, VIRTUA STRIKER 2002 breaks the cardinal rule of videogaming... it isn't fun. And despite everything else, the graphics and franchise mode, the gameplay breaks the title. If you have any curiosity at all, rent the game to stem it.