International Soccer 2000
back after the half, we rejoin the game between Microsoft
Games and the Competitors. Although Microsoft Games
is relatively new to the league, they have taken the
lead with goals from their star players Asheron’s Call
and Age of Empires 2, with an assist from Flight Simulator.
Unfortunately, Flight Simulator has been taken out of
the game due to a slight injury, and the manager has
thrown a rookie, International Soccer 2000, into the
game. The game is soon tied at two all, but can this
rookie help lead Microsoft Games to a win, or at least
maintain the tie? The battle is shaping up to be a monster,
but I have in my hand field passes to sit right on the
sideline of this exciting match. The whistle blows and
the second half begins, so now for the play by play.
International Soccer 2000 (IS2000 henceforth, since
I cannot type “international” without at least two typos)
hits pretty hard, with a good variety of features. Like
many opposing players, it features friendly matches,
leagues, cups, and practices. It also goes above and
beyond the call of duty with some of the unique competitions
that it includes. In the Territories Cup, you must lead
one team from each region to qualify for the international
competition. Another great feature is the Classic Match
option, which lets you take control of one team deep
into some of the single greatest matches in the history
of soccer, and hopefully lead them to victory. Usually
you gain control deep into the second half, or even
overtime, with the score tied, or your team down, so
that you can maintain or rewrite history as the case
may be. These matches are great fun, if only there were
Nevertheless, with moves like these, its no wonder
IS2000 can often dribble circles around some of its
When entering into one of these modes of play, control
is fairly standard for soccer games. Pass, shoot, and
through ball are standard fare. The high and low kick
modifiers are a nice touch, but I found them rather
difficult to use while using the controller, since I
have but one thumb on my right hand and its hard to
hit the modifier button while I am passing or shooting
or through balling. On defense, there is the ever-present
steal ball, slide tackle, and switch player control
options. Like similar games, steal ball doesn’t work
well enough, and slide tackle causes too many cards
and penalties. I guess I must continue to wait for a
soccer game that realistically represents stealing the
And with that, the competitors manage to steal the
ball from our hapless rookie.
What’s that? You didn’t see it? You don’t like our seats
on the sidelines? Neatly enough, in IS2000 the camera
angle can be switched to different angles. This is not
such a huge deal, but I felt it was important to mention
since the default view sucked. I moved it so the field
was vertical instead of horizontal, and I would recommend
doing the same thing as this way you can see somewhat
upfield to know where you can pass to and such.
Microsoft Games recovers the ball.
The rest of the play is relatively standard fair for
soccer games of the 2Ks. Of course with soccer there
isn’t much room for variety. You get your corner kicks,
your throw-ins, your pks (penalty kicks, not player
killers). Not surprisingly, when playing single player,
it is more useful to move a player on the field then
use the pass button, than to just kick the ball brainlessly
towards a player.
IS2000 receives a pass, and heads upfield.
In a completely unrealistic turn of events, during penalty
shots, as the keeper it is downright easy to block the
shots. Anyone who knows a thing about soccer should
know that during penalty shots, the advantage clearly
belongs to the shooter. In fact, the keeper must usually
guess which way his opponent is going to shoot, and
move as soon as contact is made if he wants to stand
a chance of blocking the shot. There is no time to watch
the player shoot, see which way it’s going, and react
accordingly. In IS2000 however, this is the case. You
can literally wait until the ball is moving towards
the goal and then dive at it. Most of the time you will
block the ball as well.
IS2000 shoots, but there was no chance of troubling
the keeper with that one.
So we got the fact that we could watch from a variety
of perspectives, but how does the game look from these
perspectives? Not too good I’m afraid. The competition
seems to have IS2000 beat in the graphics department.
In certain games fielded by the competition, many a
person in my household has remarked that it looked like
I was watching an actual game on TV, instead of playing
a computer game. In fact, aside from the post-goal celebrations,
I would have agreed wholeheartedly with those observations.
When playing IS2000, such a mistake is unwarranted,
as the players, even from a distance, do not particularly
look real. The post-goal celebrations are not much to
look at either. The most visually stunning aspect of
IS2000 is actually the sky.
Competitors recover, and charge downfield.
Sound tends to be a plague to many sports games these
days. All of them feel the need to include a play by
play, which usually sounds completely spectacular… the
first 500 times you hear it. IS2000 is not particularly
different in this aspect. The commentators sound great,
but even in the first game I played I was hearing several
of the comments one too many times. Coupled with the
fact that the sound the ball makes when kicked sounds
absolutely nothing like the sound a soccer ball makes
when kicked, and the sound quickly becomes a bit frustrating.
The crowd oftentimes goes completely silent as well.
While I have noticed that at some of the games I have
played in, where the crowd consists of no more than
50 people, this does occur, I have attended games with
thousands of fans in the stands, and I guarantee you
there was no silence. This strange awkward silence only
serves to amplify the strange sound of the ball’s deflections.
They shoot, they score, Competitors 3, Microsoft
games 2. Microsoft Games rushes to the centerline, knowing
that time grows short, kicks the ball off and rushes
towards the goal.
As far as technical issues go, IS2000 is an all-star.
I have yet to experience a single bug, glitch, crash,
or any of those other programming swear words. I cannot
even recall a graphical glitch at any time. Install
ran smoothly and the game performs flawlessly.
IS2000 receives a cross with a header into the upper
V. GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! It’s all tied up folks and
into overtime we go.
In overtime some coaches prefer to remain ultraconservative,
in order to prevent the loss, whereas other coaches
get a little wild, in hopes of taking the win. Most
people call those coaches “insane” unless they win,
in which case they are called “genius”. As it is, IS2000
has apparently saved some tricks up its sleeve just
for overtime. Let’s have a gander.
IS2000 boasts extensive customization options. Want
to play on the Italian international team? Put yourself
on the team. Want to take a team from your hometown?
Create your own custom team, and stock it with your
own custom players. Dress them in your own custom uniforms.
IS2000 brings the ball out of Microsoft Games’ half.
It looks like the team has changed their tactics! Can
they do that? You bet they can. IS2000 boasts a rather
comprehensive system of formations and tactics. Choose
between 4-4-2, 4-3-3, my favorite 3-5-2, or one of the
other included formations. Combine that formation with
a tactic such as total attack, counter attack, pressure,
or offsides. Of course, various formations suit different
tactics better than others. For instance, I wouldn’t
recommend combining the 4-5-1 formation with a total
attack, or that one forward of yours is going to be
a busy, busy guy.
The young rookie has a breakaway!
Unfortunately, the IS2000 doesn’t go quite deep enough
into the tactics as I feel that it should. For instance,
suppose you aren’t using the Offsides tactic, and yet
you want to run an offsides trap on a particular play.
You have to pause, go to the team management area, switch
over to offsides tactics, and then repeat the process
afterwards to switch back. It seems to me like some
sort of button combination that runs an offensive trap
would be nice. Other button combinations that would
have been appreciated such as running a give and go
play, switching to your forwards, or flying to your
keeper (out of the box, not off of the ground) are nowhere
to be seen.
He shoots… *DING* Oh no! Off the crossbar… this
one is going into shootouts.
What? Shootouts? That’s it, I’m out of here. I have
moral qualms with determining the outcome of a soccer
game in this manner. After all, we don’t determine a
winner of tied baseball games with home run derbies
do we? You can see how IS2000 stacks up anyway. Mediocre
graphics and sound, coupled with decent play, and superb
technical stats make this game a worthy player, but
not quite an all-star.