Alexi Lalas International Soccer
Affectionately referred to as "Jesus Christ Soccer Star" by pretty much everyone in the office, this game suffers from a number of crippling factors before you even load it. First, there is the fact that Lalas is an American...and a funny looking one who thinks he's a rockstar at that (have you heard his album?) "Real" soccer fans (i.e„ non-Americans) aren't going to take it seriously. Second--there is the fact that it looks terrible compared to most other soccer games, so casual fans of ol' hairy chin are going to be put off too. So it's screwed really. This would be a shame if it were actually a decent soccer sim, but it isn't. Proof of its ineptitude is that the default "Friendly" game is America vs. Iran...a real tour-deforce of soccer talent if ever there was one. Who'd want to play as either? Gameplay-wise. the controls are so sluggish it feels like the players are running through syrup and annoyingly, it's got some seriously wacky Al quirks. You can't hoof the ball in any direction apart from away from the goal, which is a bit odd. Also, I've never seen a player actually recover the ball from a sliding tackle, you can only knock it to someone else. Top this off with cat-like goalies who never seem to miss and the herd mentality to all the teams who chase the ball in a group, and you have yet another soccer game to avoid.
With two great soccer games on the PlayStation (ISS and FIFA), you certainly don't need this one. The animation is very erratic, ranging from nice and smooth to slow and choppy. Through passes don't go "through" very well. The goalies are crazy as well, diving for easy-to-catch shots one minute, sitting around and staring at the clouds the next. I do like that the slide tackles are easier to avoid than in FIFA, but that's about the only real positive trait I found here.
You're a fan of soccer, right? So as an enthusiast, your favorite soccer games reflect the purity of the sport. A decent soccer game for you needs to have clean, lifelike graphics that represent real players giving it their all for the glory of the team. It needs to be customizable so you can play by your own rules. Most importantly, it needs to have a rock-solid frame-rate and competitive gameplay, right? I'm sorry soccer fans, but Alexi Lalas International Soccer has none of the above.
First off, Alexi is one bizarre-lookin' dude. His game is kind of bizarre-lookin' as well. The players don't animate well nor do they look all that convincing. Also, the computer Al is a bit cheap. Fullbacks will hang back by the goal and strip the ball at will. The players move in herds rather than independently. OK, so Alexi's game seems bad but really it's just mediocre. There's certainly much better out there but it's not the worst soccer game I've played.