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ups: Intuitive controls, excellent training modes.
downs: No Master League, no infrastructure support.

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Winning Eleven 9 Review
game: Winning Eleven 9
three star
posted by: Matt James
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 09:35 AM Mon Mar 6th, 2006
last revision: 09:34 AM Mon Mar 6th, 2006

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Click to read.What I know about soccer can be summed up pretty concisely: Your not supposed to use your hands. To bend it like Beckham is desirable. The rest of the world calls it football. Oh yes, and the aforementioned Beckham is married to a Spice girl. Well, that doesn\'t really have anything to do with soccer per say, but you get my point.

The thing is, my lack of soccer knowledge shouldn\'t have a big bearing on my enjoyment of the videogames. But it does. What do I know about fighting demons on an alien world? What do I know about casting spells to defeat dragons? Heck, I can\'t even ride a skateboard. But I can make a connection with these types of games that for some reason I cannot make with a game in which the characters are realistic and, in fact, based on real people inhabiting this planet with me as I type. And probably enjoying a game of soccer right this very moment. Although I have no idea why...

Like FIFA 06 I think this is more of a genre flaw than one specific to Winning Eleven 9. Perhaps this is a result of the large team that you must control. There isn\'t any one character or position that really stands out. You don\'t have a proper window into the game; someone to connect with as an avatar.

With other large team sports games, like Madden NFL, you at least have the quarterback, and then the receiver, who have very specific jobs to perform. I admit that soccer fans will see the intricacies of each position more clearly than I do, but in the case of the videogames the players just don\'t play all that different. (The glaring exception being the Goalie position. But that isn\'t a part of the game that you play regularly.)

This flaw keeps me from really enjoying a soccer game, no matter how hard I try. Still there are a lot of fans out there and they want more of these games and I am happy to report that of the current crop of soccer titles, specifically on the PSP, Winning Eleven 9 is one of the best.

Attempting to play FIFA for the first time on the Xbox 360 I felt thrown to the wolves and overwhelmed. Winning Eleven 9 was much more hospitable. It is much more intuitive. I was able to pick it up and play with a level of proficiency that I was never able to reach on the 360. The things that really make the difference are the excellent training modes. There are quite a few different passes, shots, dribbles, etc. to learn, but the training modes are detailed and well designed. You can pick up some quick moves easily, or if you put in some more time you can really get a repertoire of moves with which to attack the opponent. Also, you aren\'t just shown moves, but also when and how to use them. The training modes really help you to become a better player.

Not being a fan I wasn\'t bothered by Winning Eleven\'s lack of licenses. If you are the type of person who appreciates being able to play their favorite teams (which most of us are) chances are you will be disappointed. While this version adds a couple more licenses than previous installments the lack of licensed teams and players remains one of the Winning Eleven franchise\'s low spots. But heck, you can name your team whatever you want. I went with The Rad Dudes, cause my team was composed of just that. So you could just design and name your team after your favorite real-life counterpart.

Typical of the PSP, the load times are pretty ugly. They are not quite the set down your PSP and watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica while you wait for the level to load waits that I have experienced with games like Midnight Club, but far longer than I am used to. Still, if this is the price we pay for having so much power in a sweet little handheld, I gladly accept. Besides, I am usually a couple of episodes of Galactica behind anyway.

It has been almost a year now and I am still repeatedly impressed with just how good the PSP looks. Winning Eleven 9 on the PSP looks nearly as good as it does on the PS2. As much as I should be used to this by now, it still amazes me.

A cool feature that the PSP has borrowed from its Nintendo counterpart is \"connectivity\" with the big brother system. With Winning Eleven 9 you are capable of connecting to the PlayStation 2 and uploading your customizations. So if you are one of those people who takes the time to name your teams and players to match with your real-life favorites, you only have to do it once on the PS2 and then transfer it to your PSP. I am guessing that if you are a big enough soccer nut to have both the PS2 and PSP versions of Winning Eleven 9 then you probably are the type to take the time to customize the games to your tastes. This feature will save you a little trouble. This is far from a gaming revolution, but it shows some of the promise that connecting the two systems can offer.

Ad-hoc multiplayer is appreciated, even expected at this point. Infrastructure support would have been a real bonus, though. Players will also be disappointed at a lack of a Master League mode. This would have added a level of depth to the title that just isn\'t there otherwise.

Winning Eleven 9 is another strong port for the PSP from the PS2. If you are looking for that Winning Eleven experience on the go then you should be a happy gamer. While I certainly found it to be a better experience than my recent foray with FIFA on the 360, I am still left a little cold by the whole genre. But if you love soccer, you\'ll find a lot to like.

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