Review by Robbie B

"The train keeps going.... but is it running out of steam?"

Introduction

Football the wonderful game. A game of two halves and a game known as soccer in the United States. Football is a game of emotion a game of skill tactical expertise and it is very much like war. To win you need the desire to survive or in this case the desire to win.
We all know emotion flows in football, to quote Alex Ferguson of Manchester United: ''Football, bloody hell!'' And to tell the truth this is exactly what I will say about this game, except in a more nastier mood.

Gameplay

The gameplay is a vital part of any sports game as everyone well knows. And as anyone who has played an ISS game before can tell you the gameplay of an ISS game is tough, gruelling and something YOU for once will need skill with. Luck accounts for pretty much everything in real life football but in a game for the Playstation2 you do need a bit of skill to get down to winning.
Once again typically of the ISS series the game itself revolves a lot around passing and not dribbling like the FIFA series. At the time I am writing this review it is well known in the UK that ISS is the King of football games now while the FIFA series is the runners up. Or to put it ''the best game in the world but we come second in everything''.

The gameplay once again though is top of the mark, wonderful passing the brilliant astute and vital through ball still works wonders although it is increasingly harder to hammer the ball home (in the net or the goal for those not to good at football terms!).
However the enjoyability and the difficulty of the game itself hasn't been left untouched. The game is much more harder although for veterans of the series like me it's a far shine from the original versions. There is however an additional touch of play which now involves the player even more than the previous instalments.
This time round tactics play a VITAL part in playing the game, with the wrong tactics you'll be struggling to get the goals and win the matches and nearly everything can be adjusted to help you on your way to management stardom.

If I made you think you can manage a team you're only half right and that was a bad point on my case. The game certainly allows the player to have more say in tactics and such but you still have to play and win the match.

Needless to say if you pump up the level to the hard setting and put the speed to max you'll get good value for your money and I'll admit even I can't get through the mighty packed midfield of France very much to rack up some good scores this time round.
The analogue shooting aim is new to the game where you use the analogue sticks to aim the ball when shooting, combined with the effect of button sensitivity where tapping the shoot button gets a low fast shot and holding the button hard will send the ball flying in the air, is NOT a welcomed addition. The Button sensitivity has been in all ISS games so far but the analogue shooting aim is practically impossible to use to good effect and not many people can hammer in a shot using it.

On the case of shooting once again most of your goals will come from rebounds and so on but you are much better off sticking with the original versions at least until ISS Pro Evolution comes out.

A new arrow system has been set up for shots and corners which is a bit of a change. Nothing too big though but it still doesn't come to my tastes much since it does ruin a good two player game in someways.

Overall the same solid gameplay but with a few added touches and a few minor niggles.

Graphics/Sound

The graphics are once again top line graphics although this game has been converted from the N64 port ISS 64 which means it isn't actually Playstation2 graphics in it's own right.
There have been a lot of improvements, no longer do we have the blocky chested versions, instead we have smooth lifelike players. Perhaps I'm exaggerating here when I say lifelike but everything the players on screen do is lifelike they moan at the referee get into fights and get really annoying shaking their head when they get sent off. Nice touches but how lifelike do they LOOK compared to their counterparts?

FIFA'S new game onto the Playstation2 will get the points when it comes to having the REAL David Beckham of course since ISS Pro don't actually have a very good likeness of the in game players to the real counterparts. Unfortunate but when it comes down to the game graphics don't account too much in my view.

Once again the lifelike graphics stun as expected from the ISS series shows true with the ball being pushed ahead by the player when they run, actual contact with the ball and so on. However it takes even longer to shoot in this game than it does in previous instalments unless you have the speed put to max.

However a nice touch of graphics in the cut scenes but not too high quality. Nothing to shout about but nothing to moan about either.


As for the sound it's pretty much unchanged from the originals, nothing really interesting. The music on the menu screen just does your head in sometimes just horrible. However once you get down to the game itself you won't really care much about the crowd and so on since you'll be focussing on the match!

Replayability

Considering once you win all major tournaments and stuff and manage once again to complete the game on hard level with full speed you won't be back for more that quick unless it's a two player match up which is always more fun!
It will take some time to get up to the hard level but it's nothing too difficult for people who have played the originals. For new players it will be a long time until they give up or quit. It's a game, which requires patience to complete fully.
The additional touch of creating your own players will more than likely add a nice move for the bored gamer who will rewrite the England squad with fifty carbon copies of him/herself!

Overall it’s a game that will keep your attention for a good few months. You'll be coming back for more just not as much as you would with a ''brilliant'' game.

Final Verdict

I love the ISS series I'll say this I LOVE THE ISS SERIES and yet this game at first would have got a 10/10 from me. However as I've learnt first impressions are not to be taken seriously and after playing another couple of times getting into the game you'll see the obvious flaws.
The REAL PLAYER NAMES as put on the back of the box isn't actually true because it only has the real names for all countries included in FIFpro and not FIFA which means most of the countries will still have the names wrong.

However needless to say this is still a great game but the agonising apparent N64 control system and graphics make it a let down. The apparent easiness of the game doesn't shine too well and although many magazines have voted it well I'll agree with the magazines on only ONE THING.

This isn't the BEST ISS in the series. It's a far cry from the actual ISS series since this is a conversion made for the N64 originally it doesn't follow the ISS timeline (e.g. NOW). This is in fact an updated version of the VERY first ISS game of the PLAYSTATION. Make sense? To put it shortly ISS Deluxe was the first followed by ISS pro series and now the ISS Pro Evolution series. This game is a conversion of the N64 version ISS 64 which is basically ISS of the Playstation except majorly bumped up but not actually reaching the amazing gameplay of ISS pro and Evolution.

You see the full circle in which Konami have gone round. According to many Konami like others released a ''sequel'' to see if the Playstation2 was good enough.

Another error on Konami's part was the fact that many people including me was looking forwards to the highly hyped up new addition of ''career'' mode. This was taken out because of ''Western tastes'' and proves of course to be a nasty error. It was hugely hyped and you can guess how many complaints my usual magazine got when ISS didn't have it! (I even sent one!)

Needless to say I like this game but it's not up to my standards compared to other ISS games. ISS will have to provide more than real player names and harder challenge to stay ahead of FIFA when the competition heats up.

Buy or Rent?

Actually do neither of these. While an enjoyable game in its own right ISS Pro Evolution 2 is coming out on the Playstation2 sometime soon at time of writing. ISS pro Evolution 2 is the actual sequel you should be looking for so check out that game and NOT this one.

However if you haven't played the ISS series before and you happen to have a Playstation2 in your hands (as most of us do now) and you want to try out the ISS series then this may well give you a taste to how far things go. If you're looking to see what ISS has to offer then rent this and see how it goes. However be warned this isn't the best ISS game on the market and I hope it doesn't put you off the series forever!

Final Scores

Gameplay: Spiced up but nothing new from the N64 version 8/10
Graphics: Spiced up once again, fluid, cool and brilliant. 9/10
Sounds: Nothing new here, HORRIBLE menu music: 4/10
Replay Value: Good. Won't be rushing back but you'll be back anyway! 7/10

Buy or rent: Rent for the newcomers, wait for Evolution 2 for the veterans.

Final Score (not an average): 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/12/01, Updated 12/12/01


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