This is the soccer sim most of us have been waiting for. That's most of us, except for the people who were mad enough to go out and buy FIFA '97 a few months before and watch it rise to #1 in numerous games charts. But for those who took the hint and waited for this one, well done.
The animation is still as excellent as it ever has been, and is slightly improved over the '97 version with some animations being totally different. It beats EA's 'revolutionary' motion capture by miles, even though these animations are solely computer generated. It includes some brilliant celebration animations here, and as your scorer runs about like a headless chicken, all the other players raise their hands as if they are celebrating.
There are all the stadiums from the first game plus another two new ones, rising the total to five superbly-detailed stadiums. The only letdown here is that while Gary Bloom and Jack Charlton blabber on before-match, it rotates inside the stadium and shows off some ugly pixelation popping up from the top of the stadium. But this does not harm the brilliant gameplay. It includes all of the top 48 international teams at the time of the game being made, but still keeps its fictitious names, except in the English Premiership which not only has the real names, but has yet more surprises - even the hair and skin colour is correct! This all adds up to a more authentic simulation. Unfortunately, not only do the Spanish and French teams have their fictitious names, but you have to choose that language at the start of the game to access that nation's teams, rather than have them all bundled in together. This makes it unreadable unless you know these languages, which doesn't really help.
WWS '98 retains its excellent 2-player mode, and if you have four controllers, a 4-player mode. This provides an excellent new challenge even if you have mastered the game against the CPU.
Luckily, the sound this time around is just excellent. Apparently for the European version some more European-style songs were added, and do indeed make the game a lot better all-round. From what I can see (or hear to be exact) most of them are just remixed songs from the last game, but nevertheless they are a lot better. However, the commentary is slightly different due to some annoying 'stuttering' which is due to the memory buffers not being big enough (the Japanese sentences were a lot shorter). This only happens occasionally, such as in long talks like the pre-match speech, and doesn't get too irritating.
It contains every option you need, from offside on/off to half length. Not as many as the FIFA series, but at least some more realistic (and no pointless) ones.
The only real letdown with this game is the exclusion of those lovely FMVs you got after scoring a goal up on the scoreboard. Why these were taken out I don't know, but in the '97 version this just added to the fun. This doesn't distract you from the excellent gameplay, but will be sorely missed.
WWS '98 is undoubtedly the best Saturn soccer game around. It replicates the Premier League very well and has turned out to be an extremely enjoyable game. So think twice before buying FIFA '98 as opposed to this - you're making a big mistake.
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