A swift kick in the head.
Like many young boys, I had my fair share of playtime on the soccer field. I can still remember all the blood, sweat, and more sweat that was poured into each game on the path to sixth grade soccer glory. I even remember the rabid gopher that one of my teammates caught on the field during a game. Ah, those were the good ol' days. Now, I'm stuck playing soccer on my Dreamcast. Bummer. Especially because I've managed to catch the rabid gopher this time.
Virtua Striker 2 is Sega's first Dreamcast attempt at bringing the thrills, spills, and excitement of soccer into your very own living room. Since Sega has a pretty good track record of creating quality sports games, I was thrilled to check this one out. After a few minutes with the game, however, my delight turned into horror.
The first thing you'll notice is Virtua Striker's disappointing graphics. After the outstanding graphics from the 2K series, Virtua Striker just seems plain and dated. The textures of the players are not as smooth as they could have been and don't hold a candle to the life-like realism of the 2K games. I also have a big problem with the actual field, which seems to be filled with the static of an old TV set. At least the stadium looks nice...
Virtua Striker greatest offense definitely falls in the control department. Just moving the ball downfield is a chore and computer controlled players will steal the ball in a virtua heartbeat. As if that wasn't enough, you can't even decide which player to control. When the opposing team has the ball, the computer basically decides which one of your guys you will control. This system often has you controlling the player in the worst position possible.
But wait! There's more. You can't control the goalie, meaning that your defenses are severely hindered. You have better defensive control in a game of foozball.
At least the offensive play is good, right? Nope. I never knew shooting the ball could be so complicated. To shoot, you have to press the B button and hold it to increase the power of the kick. A strong kick from afar will always send the ball flying over the net. This forces you get directly in front of the net to score, though kicking the ball in the direction of the net isn't easy. Frankly, it's next to impossible to score from a distance. It is a sad day for Dreamcast soccer fans.
Right when you thought that this mess couldn't get any worse, just open your ears and hear what's going on in the virtua stadium. It must be free Slinky day, since every time possession changes hands, a metal slinky-like noise emerges from the speakers. The other sounds, from the cheer of the crowd to the surprisingly mute players, do absolutely nothing to make this a good experience.
Without a doubt, the most heinous sound of all is that god awful "Gooooooaaaall!" after every score. It sounds like the guy is screaming at the top of his lungs with his dying breath. Just mellow out, man.
The only real redeeming quality in Virtua Striker 2 is the realistic movements of the players. The ball handling looks pretty accurate and brings a small spark of life to an otherwise dead game.
But overall, Virtua Striker 2 is an extremely disappointing game, and the fact that it came directly from Sega makes it even more depressing. It's not fun, has terrible control and a horrid announcer. Personally, I'd rather be on the wrong side of a one on one header.