The reason for red cards.
The World Cup has given us plenty of surprises so far. The French have been knocked out, the Argentineans have been sent packing, and a good seat at field level is really easy to find. With all this excitement, it's no wonder that soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
Unfortunately, there's no 24/7 soccer channel, forcing rabid fans to find other outlets for their futbolitis. So when the games aren't on, how is a soccer nut supposed to get his kicks?
Well, if you're looking for an answer on the GameCube, make sure you don't turn to Virtua Soccer 2002. With dismal control and boring gameplay, you'll probably have more fun practicing headers with a bowling ball.
Virtua Striker 2002 features arcade gameplay that's quick and easy to handle. Sadly, it's been dumbed down to the point of being just plain dumb. Like previous incarnations of the game, Virtua Striker 2002 has but three simple commands - short pass, long pass, and shoot. There are no juke moves, no sprint (turbo) option or even ways to switch the player under your control. Even worse is the fact that your entire defensive repertoire consists of a single slide tackle. They included the ability to alter "tactics" and "formations," but the changes won't produce any noticeable effect.
This said, games are reduced to mad passing matches. You've just got to get rid of the ball before a defender comes running up with the eventual slide tackle. With no way to avoid the steal, it's pass or be picked. If you're lucky enough to pass the ball close enough to the goal with a man in position, then you've got a decent shot at scoring. Just don't expect any fancy cross-field passes to head the ball into the goal. These guys were all absent the day they taught that nifty move.
Another annoyance is the random off-sides call. Since there's so little control over your team, you won't be able to stop the guys from going where they are not supposed to go. What's worse is that the majority of these calls will go against your team rather than the CPU-controlled team. At least you can turn penalties off.
The sound is also dry with plenty of looped effects. There isn't even any kind of commentary. I guess that could be considered a good thing, but only if decent sound effects are in place. Alas, poor Virtua Striker 2002 will do nothing good for your ears.
The multiplayer game is a disappointment as well. Even though the GameCube supports four controllers, Virtua Striker only allows two-player games. This cancels out any chance of the game being turned during the half at a World Cup party. On top of that, the two players that are supported cannot play a cooperative game. Lame!
But before I let all of the air out of this ball, there are a few bright spots to mention. The graphics have been improved greatly, making Virtua Striker 2002 easily the best-looking game of the series. Everything from the players to the stadiums has been cleaned up. The player animations in particular look lifelike and clean. All that's missing is a little terrain deformation here and there to show wear and tear on the field.
The game scores a few points with its extensive International Cup mode, which actually runs pretty deep. You'll manage almost every aspect of your team, including setting the game schedules and the individual training of the players. This mode lasts four game years, so if you can get past the many faults in gameplay, this is the way to play. Just think of it more as a soccer management game and it'll be okay.
Or better yet, stop thinking of this game and think of Soccer Slam instead. Virtua Striker 2002 is a game best left in the arcades. Not enough control is a major penalty and a lack of fun is grounds for ejection. Its simplicity might be able to hold your interest for a minute or two, but a true soccer fan will be left with deflated ball.