Total Soccer 2000
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the former employees of Sensible Software can consider themselves roundly flattered. Because they've certainly been imitated, as have the developers of Kick Off 2 and - for the completist - Dino Dini's long-forgotten Goal. Total Soccer 2000 is an amalgam of all three vintage titles, although, the game it most resembles is the original Total Soccer, which was slipped out after the last World Cup. Scarcely anybody bought it then, and it remains to be seen whether the ubiquitous 2000 addendum does the trick this time around.
If you're really thick, and haven't worked it out yet - despite the numerous visual and written clues overhead - football (not soccer) is the order of the day. Again, the players run around like blue-arsed flies, and in this new version you can elect to have dribbling switched on or off. It really is end-to-end stuff, and with the dribbling switched on, it becomes all too tempting to sprint the length of the pitch, leaving a trail of defenders in your wake. Add the keepers' susceptibility to being rounded - at least on the easier settings - and you end up constantly recreating John Barnes' famous '84 goal in the Maracana Stadium. Switch dribbling oft, however, and fashioning the slightest goalscoring opportunity becomes quite a task.
Kickin'it Old Skool
Total Soccer2000 is a perfectly playable old-skool football game, and with perseverance a number of subtleties become apparent. Ultimately though, it's a tribute game. So what? Tributes work in music. Oasis are little more then The Shouty Beatles, and nonleaguers Gene just a bunch of students trying to be The Smiths. However, they do both endeavour to write their own tunes, whereas Total Soccer2000 is so faithful to its inspiration that it's more of a Bjorn Again to Sensible Soccer's Abba. But, unlike music, exponential technological advances are commonplace in the games industry. A tune is always a tune, but a five-year-old game is a relic. While Sensible Soccer will always hold a place in any normal, right-thinking person's affections, it would be a devout fan who had actually played it regularly in the last few years.
Progress is progress, and playing this is the gaming equivalent of watching a black-and-white TV. Familiar, charming even, but ultimately inferior. It's a different game to FIFA, but the key question is will you enjoy it more? We would suggest not.