International Superstar Soccer 3
|a game by||Konami|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2|
|User Rating:||9.0/10 - 2 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Soccer Games, International Games|
So. here we have the world's first look at International Superstar Soccer 3 - Konami's other huge football license and the true pretender to EA's FIFA throne. ISS 3 has been developed by Konami's Osaka-based internal studio Major A, which in the past has produced memorable football games for various consoles including the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.
Featunng 58 international teams with all the proper player names (apart from the Dutch due to complicated licensing issues) /SS 3 promises a hugely enjoyable arcade-style kickabout. The early code we played still had a few glitches and occasionally weird ball gravity, but within a few minutes we were passing the ball skilfully between players, pulling off perfect through-balls and scoring spectacular net-bursters. Well, in our opinion anyway.
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
ISS 3 continues the football game tradition of providing oodles of options for formations and F a wealth of player stats such as ball handling and stamina to pore over as you choose your dream team. However, one of the main differences to FIFA 2003 that you'll notice immediately on playing ISS 3 is that it is a much more physical game, with players allowed to shoulder-barge, block and tug the shirts of opponents. There's also a rather cool "Close-up" action move that can be activated during the game when a player on the wing nears the opposition's penalty box. By pressing (or an appropriate assigned key on a joypad) when prompted, the camera zooms in to allow your player to perform a trick or feint to skip past defenders and allow a clear run on goal.
This takes a bit of getting used to, but fortunately ISS 3 includes an excellent Training mode, where you can practice the new Close-up action move, as well as open play, free kicks and penalties. Other modes allow you to set up your own custom leagues and cups, as well as enjoying a quick friendly match - which is promised will be playable over a LAN and the Internet. Commentary is ably provided by ITV's Jon Champion and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, and while ISS 3 doesn't seem as graphically accomplished as FIFA 2003, the motion-captured animation is excellent and the atmospheric in-game cut-scenes showing managers urging their teams on for example, is spot on.
You can probably tell that we're impressed and rather excited by Major A's ISS 3 already. Because of an accursed Sony exclusive you won't be able to bootup (ahem) the rival Konami TYO-devetoped Pro Evolution Soccer 2, but the fact that Konami is bringing its other excellent football franchise to the PC in April, is reason enough to start believing that football is finally coming home.
Download International Superstar Soccer 3
Fact. PC footy games are, for the most part, abysmal. If it's not the control system being more indecipherable than a babbling Frenchman, it's the ball moving with the fluidity of a balloon while mincing players run as though they're trapped in a vat of treacle. There's always something. Always! What's more, for the past 200,000 years (give or take a couple of millennia) the best we simple PC-owning folk could hope for was a couple of cosmetic tweaks from the inevitable six monthly FIFA release.
Bloody FIFA, it's had more near-identical releases than your average girl band, and still it can't convincingly reproduce the game of football. Why I ask you? Why are PC footy games generally so bad? Still, let's have a squiz at ISS3 and see if it can offer anything vaguely enjoyable. Ready? Right, lets go.
Alarm bells started a-ringing when Konami refused to send us a copy of the game. This kind of snub usually signals two things. 1) I have to get off my arse and walk to the shop and actually buy a copy of the game to review. 2) The publisher is so scared their game is a bigger turd than Godzilla's first dump of the day that they try and delay us reviewing the game for as long as possible. In this case, amazingly, we have an exception.
Because, y'see, /SS3 is a pretty entertaining footy game. OK, so it lacks polish, and the sloppily converted boxy menu system slaps you round the face with its sheer lack of consideration for the PC user, but once the action kicks off, it's easy to forgive these foibles. Pull the camera angle out a bit from the default setting, and slow the game down (there are several speed settings ranging from realistic to caffeine-induced hyperactivity), and you'll find yourself taking part in something resembling a proper game of footy. The Al reacts intelligently.
spreading the play and breaking up your attacks with genuine craft and imagination, while multiplayer games, as ever, provide the greatest amount of enjoyment. There's also a world and European league allowing you to test yourself against the best and worst international teams in the world.
Controls are generally solid, allowing for a wide range of passes, crosses, shots and skill moves (strangely, the camera has a habit of zooming into the action for a few seconds as you execute these), while scoring is anything but easy, with goalkeepers reacting intelligently to danger. There are some problems when it comes to selecting players on the pitch however, and you're often left controlling the wrong one at critical moments. Hitting the post is also far too regular an occurrence, with more balls slapping against wood than your average gang-bang movie.
Looking The Part
Players vaguely resemble their real-life counterparts, but the blocky graphics trip ISS3 up in its attempt to storm to the top of the PC footy pile. Low-res in-game graphics stamp it on the back of the calf, while some suspect scrolling dumps it on its arse. So, better than FIFA? Well, yes and no. Noncommittal, I know, but true. Want polish? Want flashy graphics? Buy FIFA. Want a game that manages to provide an entertaining, realistic and challenging representation of football and don't care how it looks? Choose ISS3. Overall FIFA may just edge it, but this definitely comes close. Penalties it is then.