International Superstar Soccer 2 (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 29.01.2003

Review for International Superstar Soccer 2 on GameCube

From the team that brought you ISS64, ’98 and 2000 on the Nintendo 64, comes the latest instalment of FIFA’s main competitor, International Superstar Soccer 2. Before it’s release this was probably one of the few eagerly awaited titles that was to be launched with the GameCube in the UK due to its reputation from the N64 outings. Along came 3rd May, 2002, and the new Nintendo system launch, and with it came this rather lacklustre addition to what was regarded as the finest football franchise around.

Obviously the idea of such a game means that there is no particular story. But the developer attempts to draw the player into the game, and actually make you feel that you are in the team and it is you who the crowd are cheering for as you make your way ever closer to the World Cup Finals. This is achieved quite well, mainly due to the graphics and sound rather than gameplay though, and therefore it deserves at least some marks in this category.

From a launch perspective this game falls somewhere between the high standards of Luigi’s Mansion and the basic finesse of Super Monkey Ball. The introduction before you reach the title screen is rather impressive, but then you actually get to the 'Press Start' screen and it isn't really much to look at. The same is true with the menu screens – very rudimentary, no 'pizzazz' to them at all. Luckily, though, the most important part of the game is well catered for graphics-wise. Once you’ve chosen your team and gone through the various options available, the match begins. The camera pans across the sky, slowly moving down past the rows of ecstatic fan-filled seats and then swoops down to where the players are coming out of the tunnel onto the pitch. The feeling of exhilaration from this sets you up perfectly for the forthcoming battle of skill and power.

The player animations are fairly impressive on the whole, but sometimes the game can reveal a few of the bugs it contains and unusual (and often frustrating) occurrences such as the ball being nowhere near the Goalkeeper's hands and then suddenly appearing in his grasp whilst you are struggling to keep control in the penalty area do rear their ugly head. But overall this is definitely a solid foundation for the upcoming ISS3 that is out later this year.

I think people have come to expect average in-game music from football games, and that’s exactly what is delivered here. Extremely bland background music is played whilst you tinker with game options and various different in-game tactics, but it leaves you with the feeling that some game company should try and break the mould...and soon. On a brighter note though, the commentary is excellent. Provided by Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson, this beats previous Konami footballing efforts hands-down. The sheer quality of this aspect makes you almost forgive them for the drab menu music. The timing of comments and the fluidity of speech is nearly perfect – it seems we’re finally moving away from wooden, almost robotic speech-capture that many football games suffer from. The atmosphere of the game really benefits from the enthusiasm thrown into goal-mouth action, with both the crowd roaring in the background and the commentators almost screaming the ball into the back of the net, "He tries for the lob…IT’S THEEEERRRREEEE!!! GOOOOAAAALLL!!!" It will truly send a shiver down your spine…

I’ll be blunt right from the start, this game is a huge disappointment for ISS veterans, or anyone that hasn't had to suffered the banality of the FIFA Soccer series and games like Michael Owen's WLS and David Beckham's Soccer. But it does have a certain charm and eventually grows on you. Matters such as the slow response when trying to change players, the HUGE turning circles made by players in 'control' of the ball and the fact that beating the 'keeper is almost always only possible if he parries it to you after a shot, all create extreme high levels of frustration when first playing. But once you've eased yourself in, it dawns on you that things could be far worse…yes, you could be playing the awful FIFA Soccer instead.

Five game modes are available, which include cups, leagues and friendly matches. But this just doesn't prove to be enough of a challenge due to the poor level of opponent AI, even on the highest difficulty level. The longevity is vastly reduced by the fact that some of the best features from the past have been omitted for this next-generation incarnation. The infamous Scenario mode from the SNES games, where you were put in difficult situations and had to try and turn things around and grasp victory, is missing. Also the RPG mode from ISS 2000 on the N64, which showed great potential for future instalments, has been dropped. Unfortunately this means that you will only likely come back to this game for bouts of multi-player shenanigans. That is unless you engross yourself with the multi-faceted formations, tactics and create-a-player functions, of course.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Poor, but Konami's 'poor' is still a cut above the rest. This rates as the strongest football game available on the GameCube to date…yes, even better than the likes of Virtua Striker 3 and FIFA Soccer 2003. But what happened to the jar of polish Major A used to make the N64 iterations shine so brilliantly?









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


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