Striker Pro 2000
|Editor Rating:||6.3/10, based on 2 reviews|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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While it's true there are a lot of good soccer games out there, there aren't a lot for the Dreamcast. In fact, there are none. Infogrames has handily beat Sega and everyone else to the punch.
Because of this, it's tricky to compare SP 2000 to other soccer games. Think FIFA: Road to the World Cup, with sharper graphics and smoother animation to get an idea.
What jumps out at us first? Most definitely the analog control. It's more responsive than we've seen in other soccer games, the difference being the easy transition from jog to sprint or vice versa. Special moves benefit from the graceful animation as well. You can actually see the player's legs manipulate the ball in conjunction with the trick. Rage Software (the game's developer) claims some 9,000 frames of motion-captured animation is used in the game. It definitely looks it. Graphically the title is pretty darn nice. Loads of polys and textures bring the sport to life in super detail. Vet having said that, once you back out the camera to a comfortable view, the fancy graphic detail becomes a non-factor. At that point the focus shifts to gameplay.
For the most part it's solid but a few things concern us. For one, the computer will switch control off your player as soon as you slide-tackle. This is uncomfortable as most soccer games let you follow through with the tackle, then switch after. The computer seems to jump the gun too quickly in other circumstances as well. A simple manual switch option would fix the whole thing. Let's hope they tweak that area before the final version comes out.
Striker Pro 2000 is no slouch when it comes to depth. Nine game modes challenge with everything from friendly matches to massive tournaments and championships. Even the Training Mode is extensive! You could spend loads of time just perfecting your shot and defending abilities.
Forty-four European, all the European National and 30 non-European teams are available. In addition, a unique certification feature rewards skillful play by opening up even more teams, including the U.S. team (there's no MLS license, though). We're sure the DC will offer even better soccer sims down the road. But for the time being, Striker Pro 2000 is looking pretty nice.
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Consider this: The only soccer competition on the Dreamcast for Striker Pro 2000 is the dismal and vertigo-inducing Virtua Striker 2. So for DC owners who crave soccer, SP2K is really the only answer, and it's a pretty decent game. First, you get a really cool certification mode. You'll be invited to pass a series of skill tests to unlock hidden modes and teams. The skill tests are set up by shooting, passing and playing defense. You'll have 10 challenges per category and the more successful you are, the more you'll unlock. This mode is the best part of the game. But the gameplay is pretty fun, too. Control does have some problems which keep me shaking my head. The players auto-switch to whoever's closest to the ball. Don't the developers have enough faith in me as a gamer to decide who I want to go after the ball? I'm constantly dashing the wrong way because my auto-switched player decides he wants to run the show. It's not impossible to overcome; it just takes an annoying amount of time to get used to. The commentary is, as usual, a real clambake. You'll hear all the English remarks you'd expect from a live broadcast. The game packs 130 teams, so there are plenty of strange names to memorize and guys to make national heroes. Graphically, the game is really tight. Stadiums look brilliant and the player animations are well done. It's a fine game, and if you need soccer on the Dreamcast, it's your only hope.
Striker is a good soccer game whose subtle realism doesn't sap fun away from the gameplay. Casual soccer fans can jump right into things and the use of the VMU for on-the-fty formation calling is great, even though most of us probably will never use it. The graphics are pretty good by Dreamcast standards, but there's a few nagging problems. Animation can be jerky, and all too often the players look like they're running on ice--especially when they do sliding tackles that send them flying across the field. I like this game, but Striker Pro 2000 needs more features, licensing, and polish before I'll be willing to put away my copy of FIFA.
Being a true FIFA aficionado, I probably went into playing Striker Pro 2000 with a slight bias against it. I'm happy to say I was wrong. SP2K is a realistic affair with deep sim options. Visuals and gameplay don't set any new standards but don't hurt the game either. Player control is a little sketchy thanks to a system that automatically gives you control of the player closest to the ball (without a button press). It's frustrating because it really limits some defensive strategies (crowding the middle, dropping back). In addition to the regular battle on the pitch, the game also offers a unique training mode that unlocks special teams and other goodies.