Gamestyle Archive Intro: way back in the early days of the Xbox, I enjoyed Soccer Slam as it was something different to all the Pro Evo versus FIFA chat that dominated the pitch. Perhaps over scored slightly now but hindsight is a wonderful thing! This dates from October 2002.
We’ve been playing this one for a while now, and seeing as it’s been around on the shelves of importers for far too long we thought it was about time for a review. Sega Soccer Slam is an incredibly over-the-top representation of what we like to call football – it’s 3 a side (plus goalie) Midway-style madness, in fact developers Black Box are responsible for the recent Midway branded NHL Hitz 20-02, and Soccer Slam plays (and to some extent, looks) very similar.
Of course, that’s meant in the lightest possible sense, as nothing around at the moment is anywhere near as outrageous as this game – it really is complete mayhem from start to finish, and manages to incorporate the best bits from the likes of Red Card, Virtua Striker and oddly enough, The Matrix all into one game. Each team is based around a particular stereotype (without being too offensive) and each player is entirely individual with their own appearance, playing style, special moves and voices – and we don’t just mean a different face texture either – these players really are as different from each other as they could be without actually leaving the team colours.
Once you’ve picked a team and a game mode, and set up the sides depending on how many friends you’ve got over, it’s into the match. You’ve got the obvious pass and shoot buttons, but there’s also a deke move and a defensive block too, plus power-ups and turbos assigned to the triggers, and skillful use of all these is often the way to succeed. The pitches seem tiny to begin with, and it’s possible to get from one end to another in less than 3 seconds, but once you start to appreciate the moves and get used to the pace of the game it’s much more manageable. There’s not just one-off exhibition matches either, Soccer Slam comes complete with a full compliment of leagues and cups, and success in these events unlocks the usual array of extra teams, player statistics, additional (equally-mad) stadiums and other nice treats, which seriously helps the one player life-time as you’ll find yourself playing Soccer Slam alone just as much as you would with mates just to unlock more features for the next multi-player evening!
Unique on-the-pitch moves include holding down shoot for far longer than you need to which results in a spectacular volley, bicycle kick or header combo, and best of all if you manage to keep possession for a few seconds a spotlight in your teams colours will appear and randomly circle the pitch for a while. Get your player in that area and tap the shoot button to pull off the bullet-time feature which enables you to carefully pin-point the exact area to shoot at whilst everyone else is frozen for a second or so – a superb touch and one that fits the whole theme of the game. Surprisingly, graphically Soccer Slam is the best looking football game around, on any format – the players are drawn from massive amounts of polygons that give each of them their own unique appearance, and are equally expertly textured and shaded.
The same brilliant presentation extends to the rest of the pitch, and even the hundreds of people in the crowds are all fully 3 dimensional, and all this at a rock solid 60 frames a second – a sight that really has to be seen to be believed. The sound department is equally impressive, with laugh-out-loud funny commentary, excellent spot-effects and some cheesy but perfectly placed music snippets whenever you pull something off – it’s all very arcadey yet consistently entertaining and never annoying, a feat that must have took some serious play-testing from Black Box. If you’re looking for something more exciting than the usual dull ‘simulations’ out there, or just want a quick blast with a few mates, Sega Soccer Slam is unbeatable, and highly recommended.
Gamestyle Score: 8/10