Sock her? Gladly.
When it comes to violent sports, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Hockey? Shootfighting? Anything involving this guy? Well, forget all those kid's games because I've got something that even the baddest mamma jammas won't touch. Soccer.
Sega also knows what I'm talking about, because they've paired up Visual Concepts, the 2K sports god, with Blackbox Games of Hitz fame to create Soccer Slam, the ultimate in sporting violence. With slamtastic soccer action and a colorful cast of crazies, this is one arcade sports game that scores big.
The concept of Soccer Slam is as simple as it gets. Get a few teams of three players (plus one goalie) together and have them beat the snot out of each other in a no-holds-barred battle to the finish. Oh yeah, and they're supposed to kick a ball into the goal sometimes, too. I always seem to forget about that part. But wait, there's more!
Three main modes are available for you to choose from including Exhibition, Tourney, and Quest. The first two options are pretty much what you would expect from any sports game. Quest, however, is similar to the Career mode of Sega's Virtua Tennis. Not only will you play in a 10-game season, but you'll also participate in various challenges and earn cash to grab special items that will beef out the abilities of your team. There's even a mid-season All-Star game, where the best players from each team get together for a little fun.
Speaking of teams, the pickings are a little slim as you'll be choosing from one of only six groups of psycho stars. Hailing from various countries around the globe, the characters in Soccer Slam are definitely a significant part of this game's fun factor. From El Diablo the Wrestler to Angus the Scotsman, you'll get plenty of kicks watching these guys run around the pitch while talking smack.
There are two distinct gameplay features that add greatly to Soccer Slam - Spotlight Shots and Killer Kicks. Spotlight Shots come at random points in the game when your team has control of the ball. A spotlight of your team's logo will wander around on the field and all you have to do is get the ball into the light and take a shot. If successfully executed, time will slow for a few seconds and you'll gain the ability to target exactly where your shot will go.
Killer Kick opportunities pop up when your team controls the ball with a full power meter. Once you hit the appropriate buttons, the ball handler will lob the ball high in the air near one of the other teammates. Get that player in the magic circle and hit the shoot button at the right time, and you'll get a cinematic super shot that will blast toward the goal. It's not a guaranteed score, but you can bet it will knock the goalie silly.
Controlling these guys is a snap thanks to a simple and efficient setup. All you really need to know is how to pass, shoot, and steal. Even people who aren't familiar with sports games should have no problems picking up the basics. But for those of you looking for a deeper game, fear not because other moves like deke, protect, and power-ups are available. A little experience goes a long way.
Completing this game's offense are some great visuals. Each of the characters and stadiums are excellently rendered with smooth lines and bright colors - perfect for the GameCube. The animations aren't half-bad, and the turf will even start to show signs of wear as the game progresses.
The character voices are also pretty good, but the announcing is extremely lethargic. This guy is so timid, you might not even notice he's there. Then again, I'd rather have an announcer that doesn't say much than an announcer that keeps spitting out all the wrong things.
Of course, like any a sports game, Soccer Slam excels as a multiplayer game. You can play with up to four friends in multiplayer matches, and they also included the ability to co-op the Quest mode. Grab some buddies and some drinks and watch the hours fly by.
Although it's a kick, Soccer Slam lacks some depth. Completing the game only yields new stadiums, so there's no real reason to keep playing over and over. More challenges would help, but what the game really needs is a larger number of teams. I would have loved the abilty to unlock brand new characters upon completion of the game, or even the chance to mix and match players from different squads. An off-the-wall create-a-player would also have done wonders for this game, but alas, it looks like we'll have to wait for the sequel for that chance.
But what we've got now ain't half bad. Soccer Slam scores a goal for anyone looking for some lighthearted sports action and makes a fine addition to your GC library.