Written on: 08/03/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)
Pretty much everything else
Another arcade to Dreamcast conversion, Virtua Striker 2 is something of a diversion for Sega, who are more widely renowned for their racing, shooting and fighting games. An arcade style football game was always going to be tricky to pull off, simply because it's not the kind of subject matter that can be squeezed into the time an average arcade experience usually lasts. It's fine with a light-gun shoot 'em up or a beat 'em up - both of which are relatively simple styles of game just by their very nature. Football though? Well, that's a different prospect altogether, and Sega, it just doesn't work.
Trying to squeeze all the tactics and build up of a sport like football into a game that only has 2 button commands was always going to be an uphill struggle. Trying to simplify further by doing away with anything resembling a real match (and shoehorning it into a two minute window) is suicide. Virtua Striker 2, as a result is more like a game of table football with fancy graphics. You get a 'pass' button and a 'shoot' button that double up as sliding tackle and 'cross' buttons, depending on whether you are in a specific area of the pitch. It's as grotesque as you are probably imagining.
Trying to string passes together is nigh-on impossible, and your players are all partly controlled by the computer, so they run backwards and forwards chasing the ball like they're playing in a primary school playground match, and you can't do anything about it because it's the AI that's in control!
There is no running play-by-play in Virtua Striker 2 either (which some people may appreciate), but when there is only a simple looped crowd sample and a really annoying 'swoosh' noise every time you tackle (like rustling newspaper), you'll be begging for John Motson to pop round for a cup of tea and commentate for you in your living room. Furthermore, you can't change the camera view from the default one. This wouldn't be an issue if it stayed in the same place and at the same distance from the pitch, but it zooms in, pans around, and pirouettes as if that cloud based camera man from Super Mario 64 is director of cinematography.
It's a real shame that Sega saw fit to only do a straight arcade port of Virtua Striker 2. It's a game clearly designed to be played in a pub environment, e.g. very basic and about as deep as an inflatable swimming pool. To be fair, the game actually looks quite impressive with its detailed stadia and chunky well animated players all displayed in lovely high resolution. Perhaps it's this that makes me annoyed that the development team didn't do more with Virtua Striker 2. If they'd just kept the graphics but done away with all the rubbish stuff (controls, lack of tactics, no player names, no commentary, and the computer assisted controls etc.), the Dreamcast could have had a great little football game here. As it is, it's football Jim - but not as we know it!
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