Thu, Mar 10, 2005 - Page 15 News List

PC game reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Winning Eleven 8

Publisher : Konami

Platform: PC, PS2 and X-Box

Taiwan Release: Currently available

Since its debut almost six years ago, Konami's Winning Eleven series has been outclassed and outplayed by rival soccer games for one simple reason -- it has never had official licenses to use real uniforms and real player names.

All that has changed this year as Konami has finally acquired licenses to use real uniforms and real players from the Italian, Spanish and Dutch leagues. Along with being the first Konami soccer game to have been granted a limited number of licenses, Winning Eleven 8 is the first in the series to appear as an X-Box console system game.

The number of real clubs and players may still pale in comparison to Electronic Arts' annual FIFA series, but it is a start and makes this year's Winning Eleven a much more enjoyable play than previous editions. As well as featuring 136 club teams, 57 national teams and allowing players to control over 4,000 players, Konami has made quite a number of cutting-edge improvements, both on and off the pitch.

The game's interface and menu screens are much easier to navigate and the "Career Mode" is far more complex and engrossing than that of any of Konami's big-name rivals.

For novice soccer fans, the game features the most in-depth training mode of any PC/console soccer game and for those looking for that extra slice of realism Winning Eleven 8 boasts the first ever onscreen referee. Not that the man in black does very much, but his presence certainly adds to the overall feel of the game.

As has become the norm, Konami's graphics are superb and the AI unbeatable. Game play is fluid and a lot less arcade-like than several other top-selling soccer games. Players both look and act like their real-life counterparts and even have changeable facial expressions.

Gran Turismo 4

Piblisher: SCEA

Platform: PS2

Taiwan Release: Currently available

The Gran Turismo series has long been the defining and most breathtaking of all vehicular console games. Since 1998, nearly every driving simulation has tried to emulate GT's, but very few have come close to matching the series' state-of-the-art graphics and sound production, realistic driving experience, whopping car rosters and stunning courses.

Gran Turismo 4 gives car enthusiasts the chance to take the wheel of more than 600 cars. Be they classic 1960s street cars, 1970s muscle cars, Japanese family cars from the 1980s and 90s, concept cars or even classics like the Model T Ford, GT 4's roster is impressive.

Along with featuring an increased number of cars, GT 4 has also enlarged its course inventory. Players can choose to race on more than 50 courses ranging from real-life racetracks to inner-city circuits and rally courses. While many of the driving environments are now based on genuine circuits and cityscapes, longtime fans of GT can still race on the classic fictional circuits Grand Valley Speedway, Deep Forest Raceway and the annoying and trying Trial Mountain.

In addition to improved circuits, crowd scenes are now rendered in full 3D and in the game's rally modes, spectators will, on occasion, leap onto the tracks in order to take photos of oncoming vehicles and shout words of encouragement. While doing wonders for the games aesthetics, the addition of pedestrians and spectators doesn't really work.

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