Sega Worldwide Soccer (WWS) was, in X'mas 1996, one of the best-selling games for Sega's "golden boy", the CD-32 bit Saturn. Reasons? It was the first *really* good 3D soccer game to be released on any platform. Easy to learn, yet quite challenging to master, evolutive players, good graphics (for its time), fabulous player animations, name-editing options for the 48 nations involved (and NO crazy picks), three cup modes... What else could you ask for? (well, actually the club teams, which appeared on WWS98, were never ported to any other system).
This is a faithful conversion for the PC-CD platform, released about one year later, with unlimited goal-saving options, a (poor) Direct3D mode, some minor AI tweaks (I remember that the referee was much stricter on the Saturn version, and players sometimed used to run around the player with the ball if he was standing still) and a Link (netplay) Mode. The great intro is unchanged, and shows how good the game is – believe me, you can do ANYTHING you see in the video. The music comes directly from the CD and the menu graphics are the same (resembling the menu of ISS Deluxe for the SNES).
The gameplay is quite good in this one. The ball flows freely (i.e. it doesn't seem to be artificially attached to the players' shoes), and the players don't seem to drag around like they do in other games. You can adjust the aim of your shots with the ball in air, great for long distance shots or passes and giving the player lots of agency. It allows many ways to score, including headers from crosses, shots outside and inside the area, lobs, blunders (lots of them...), free kicks... in few other games can you score in so many ways as this one. The biggest drawback is when you're playing down, where the goal net sometimes blocks your view.
Graphics fall short of the standards set by FIFA 98 some months later, but most kits are recognizable, the ball is excellent, and the rain is one of the best simulated (you can see splashes from the players' feet and the ball that actually slows down and bounces less on moist ground), the crowd (with three different stadiums) is alive with flags... as I said before, the D3D mode doesn't add very much to the pack.
Although great in 1997, the graphics are a bit dated now, but the animations are still nearly perfect – you can actually see when it was a foul and when not – the animations for shooting/passing/lobbing are different, so the game is quite rich on this front. There are a few special moves that will take you some time to learn, but they aren't vital. The players are actually split into left- and right-footed, and you must learn what the best spots are for both to score.
The audio is definitely poor... The commentary lacks quality (German and English are available), and the in-game sounds are repetitive. The CD-music is okay but nothing to cheer about. For long-term play, you have a "Sega Ranking Mode", that lists all participations and wins in the three modes (World Cup, Tournament and League). You can try to push Wales or El Salvador from the bottom places to the very top, altough that will take one awful lot of time – losing a league may have devastating effects in your ranking, but this is what the game is all about: creating a legend.
Other major drawbacks are the bad goalkeeper AI (he rarely holds a shot, gets beaten too many times on crosses, never gets out of the net to face a lone striker, sometimes lets harmless balls get in...), the lack of an appearance editor for the players (If you use the 94/97 players, you should have no problems, but if you want to use more recent squads sometimes players don't look as they should) and the reduced numbers in each team (sixteen). Definitely a Top Dog and Hall of Belated Fame material, no less. A must-have.Reviewed by: wolfensilva