It looks like it might have bobbled a bit!
America is an unusual place, just ask anyone outside its borders. We live on fast food, watch goofy movies and mistakenly believe that Soccer is something less than the greatest sport known to man.
Our feverish and mawkish worship of the big three (Football, Baseball, and Basketball) has somehow diverted our attention from the real deal. Since it is also our unique distinction to be the world's largest software-buying public, America's poor taste has practically forced sports-game developers to fight neck-and-neck to please our provincially puerile sensibilities while ignoring what the entire world wants (Soccer, Soccer, Soccer). The result is a ton of great games for fans of the big three, but only two really good Soccer games. Fortunately, for Sega Entertaintment, Worldwide Soccer is one of them.
Unfortunately for Sega Entertainment, even though the new 3D accelerated Worldwide Soccer is good, it's still light years behind its only competitor FIFA: The Road to the World Cup 98. Put simply, FIFA looks, sounds and plays better than Worldwide Soccer. Here are some examples: Worldwide Soccer's graphics are decent, FIFA's looks like a televised match; Worldwide Soccer's music sounds like the guitars are out of tune, FIFA bought the rights to Blur's latest chart-topper; Worldwide Soccer's announcer is always about five seconds behind the action, FIFA hired John Motson to make only as many mistakes as he makes in real life. It doesn't stop with the cosmetics either. FIFA has more teams, stadiums, control options and strategic interest than Worldwide Soccer.
The only place the games are equal -- and certainly the most important place for real Soccer fans -- is in the computer AI. Most soccer games (even last year's edition of FIFA) have been plagued with AI problems of some sort. If it's not a stupid goalie then its annoying referees. In some cases, like Kick Off 97, it's the whole enchilada. With Worldwide Soccer, however, your opponents know when to strike and when to hold back, waiting for openings instead of always running straight for the score. They even exploit your weaknesses and kill time when they are winning! Worldwide Soccer is actually superior to FIFA 98 in the way it controls your own players. Both games allow you choose between switching players manually, or letting the computer decide who you are controlling, but Worldwide Soccer most always selects the right player for you to control, while FIFA's automatic player selection often leaves you in command of a player that isn't even on the screen. And though FIFA 98's goalie is much better than FIFA 97's, Worldwide Soccer's keepers are much more aggressive and almost always make intelligent choices.
While not the slickest, prettiest or most wonderful sounding game out there, Worldwide Soccer really is a lot of fun. With the exception of Electronic Art's truly stunning FIFA: Road to the World Cup 98, no other PC soccer simulation comes close to matching the excellent gameplay, strategy and opponent AI of Worldwide Soccer. If EA's sim is too overwhelming for you, then Sega's more simplistic title is really the only alternative.