World Tour Soccer 2006 is a new soccer game produced in-house by SCEE's London Studio. There have been previous attempts in the series, some successful while others fell short. Having said that, World Tour Soccer 2006 tries to improve upon its predecessors but just doesn't seem to get the job done properly and feels like a very cheap game overall.
There are several different modes of play in World Tour Soccer. Players are able to create tournaments, play National League soccer, and customize their teams. However, the real story mode of this game is the career mode where you are presented with a school team, and must progress through the ranks until you achieve pro status. Although the game manages to keep you interested in trying to turn your team into a soccer powerhouse, the whole experience will start to feel old very fast.
The biggest problem in WTS 2006 is the whole presentation of the game. There are no opening movies at all, the menus feel very rushed and boring, and the whole game just has an overall cheap feel to it that isn't present in the FIFA or Winning Eleven series. Not only that, but the game also suffers from animation problems. These vary from good animations, to downright silly and choppy ones. For a soccer game to be truly memorable and successful, presentation is a huge part of the deal. However, the developers seem to have paid the least amount of attention to that aspect of the game.
The next issue I have with this game is in the graphics department. While it does sport some rather average graphics, the level of detail for players here is far below that of the leading soccer series. As a matter of fact, this game tries to sell itself on the premises that you place your face on a player with the use of the EyeToy camera. This feature is seriously flawed and it is rather difficult to recognize your face if at all. Stadiums also lack detail compared to other games, and while the game has a fairly large amount of teams and venues to choose from, very little attention has been paid to most of those.
WTS 2006 also fails to impress in its audio. The sound effects in the game fail to draw you into the experience and you'll actually stop paying attention to them after a while. Another faulty component is the audio commentaries, which occur throughout the matches. Very often the commentator will utter words that have no relation to what is happening on the field and will leave you either confused or amused. Not only are the commentaries often inaccurate, but they're also very repetitive and boring. At times, your player will score a goal but the commentator won't even mention it because he's talking about a rather unimportant play that may have happened moments ago. While the soundtrack is a bit catchy and fits the gameplay, it is still not amazing and does little to enhance the player's emotion.
As far as gameplay goes, WTS 2006 tries its best to keep you entertained. It tries to combine the depth of Winning Eleven with the simplicity of FIFA but manages to fail on both accounts. The game ends up being a middle of the road game that just doesn't seem as fun to play as either series. While there are rather realistic ball physics here, that's pretty much the end of realism in this game. Your players are able to run from one end of the field to the next at an almost superhuman pace and there's very little incentive for passing the ball around players and actually using other features. The game does offer formation options for your teammates and special passes with multiple button presses but the sheer facility of making goals, does not warrant such measures to be used. Even in hard mode, you should be able to achieve victory with a score of 6-0. And with a lack of online gameplay, this game just gets boring after a few hours of play.
After the dust clears, what WTS 2006 amounts to is a fair attempt at doing a reasonably fun soccer game. The career mode offered is rather enjoyable, the player markets and customization are a notable addition to the game, and the various player formations and extra moves do add a little flavor to an afternoon of PS2 soccer. However, this game is simply not up to par with the other soccer series out there that have come a long way and feature an amazing amount of detail and highly enjoyable gameplay. While WTS 2006 is a notable attempt to place the series into the mainstream, it just fails to impress players with its presentation and feels very cheap in all aspects when compared to other games. It's hard to recommend this game unless you're a big soccer fan and just want something to do with friends. And even if you are, it's highly recommended to play against a buddy as the AI poses little to no challenge at all even to beginners.