Red Card Soccer 20-03 Review (PS2)
Red Card Soccer(RCS) is the latest in Midway’s over the top arcade sports games. I am not a fan of Blitz or Hitz but I found this game fairly enjoyable. That could be due in part to the fact that RCS is not as over the top as those two games. Part of my problem with Blitz and Hitz is that you score early and often. Part of the thrill of soccer is the excitement and value of a goal. RCS seemed to keep this in mind, as most of my games were in the 3-2 area I even had some scoreless draws as I was learning the game. It is also 11 on 11 soccer on a full length field.
Button mashing still takes precedence over strategy but you will need to work the ball down the field by passing and slick ball handling. If you just try to dribble down the field on your own, the CPU or your human opponent will probably drop kick you to the ground and take the ball. I think the reason the scores are kept to a reasonable level is that you can basically do anything you want to the opposing team to win the ball. Shoulder charges, vicious two footed cleats up tackles, flying karate kicks are all part of your defensive arsenal. I played with the referee strictness set to off; I was even surprised to see a slider, since this is an arcade style game. I did get called for some fouls and even drew some from the CPU. Usually if a man was making a nice move and you leveled him you might get a foul called, other than that it was pretty much anything goes.
The controls in this game are very tight and if you are a skilled gamer you may be able to score more frequently than me. There are numerous combinations of spin moves and speed bursts and power shots. Tapping the R2 button twice will get you a super speed burst, but will also use up some of your turbo power, as will all the special moves. The nice thing about this game is that you won’t score from midfield, you will however score from outside the box by 3-5 yards more frequently than anywhere else. The goalies are pretty aggressive and smart so if you try to shoot or make a move inside the box, there is a good chance they will come out and block your shot or pounce on the ball before you can shoot. The goalies play the angles really well but seem to falter on long hard shots. It is pretty satisfying banging one home from outside the box; it’s also surprising that an arcade game has some reasonableness built in. The farther you take your shot, the less accurate it will be. This also applies while passing, you can’t just make one booming pass down the field and expect to score. Passes, lob passes and crossing passes are far more realistic than I expected and make you play a game resembling soccer.
As mentioned before, there are numerous special moves and given that hitting a combination of buttons is not my strong point, I may have missed some super easy ways to score. One of those combinations allows you to load up with a power shot that can carry the goalie and the ball across the goal line. You can also score by doing flying flips and bicycle kicks. The goalies can and will be tough though and will stop many of your best efforts, which made this game more enjoyable for me.
Defensively it basically boils down to, do whatever you got to do to stop the offense. I have to say it works, it’s not realistic at all but it is a lot of fun to plant your feet into a guys chest to knock him off the ball. Actually he doesn’t even need the ball; you can whack him and the ref too. The sound effects that go along with the hard tackles also add to the fun, it really sounds like you just nailed the guy.
On the PS2 this game was quite impressive and with a couple playable camera angles. The camera will move in an out a bit on the action camera mode, but you will get used to it pretty easily. The player models are good and some of the bigger stars are recognizable. Some of the over the top animations are quite impressive but when the players are running they look kind of goofy instead of fluid. Any complaints on the graphics are minor quibbles and overall this is a visually pleasing game. The stadiums are very impressive and the auto replays do a good job of showing off the better animations of RCS.
The overall crowd noise and excitement of soccer is captured very well. The announcing is decent and keeps up with the pace of the game. You can actually listen to the game announced in 5 different languages, English, Spanish, German, French and Italian. I enjoyed playing the game in the various languages as it kept the announcing from getting stale and repetitive. Even though they have real players for most of the major international teams the announcers never say their names. This is kind of disappointing but it helps the announcers to stay on top of the fast paced action.
There are 50 international teams and other special teams and stadiums to unlock. There are 3 different modes of action, the main part of the one player game would be World Conquest. In this mode you pick a team and try to defeat teams from the various regions. You start off with Australia, once you beat them you have to play a team of Dolphins in their underwater stadium, it is pretty comical and the Dolphins are animated quite well. Next up is North America, once you take care of Mexico, the US and Costa Rica, you have to take on a SWAT team in a stadium I can’t describe, but it is very hard on the eyes. You then move on to Asia and end up playing a team of Samurai. The difficulty level is based on the quality of the team you are playing; once you defeat all the teams from a region you unlock the special teams and stadiums. This is fun for a while and if you love to unlock stuff it may keep you busy for quite a while since you will have to face over 30 teams in Europe. I got bored and didn’t feel like spending the time to unlock the rest of the teams. I don’t mean that this game is boring, it is just not my kind of game. Once you figure out the basic strategies it becomes more of a button mashing game. RCS also offers a Friendly mode and Tournament Mode.
The two-player mode is fun and since the basic controls are very easy to pick up, this is a fun game to play with others.
If you are looking for some soccer action but are not a serious soccer fan, RCS may be the game for you. I enjoyed playing the game but the re-playability with only one player is limited, unless you really like the challenge of unlocking teams and stadiums. In some ways it is surprisingly soccer like and for me this made the game more fun, for others who really like the arcade style game they may be somewhat disappointed.