STAFF REVIEW of ESPN MLS ExtraTime 2002 (Xbox)

Wednesday, April 24, 2002.
by Queasy Buddy

ESPN MLS ExtraTime 2002 Box art Even after only a few minutes of playtime it becomes clear that MLS EXTRATIME is the best soccer game ever. You can choose from over 100 teams, including over 60 national and 10 MLS squads to take part in a variety of modes. Match mode - where you select your favorite team for a single match. MLS mode ? you work towards the championship in five consecutive MLS seasons. In MLS mode you have the power to transfer some of your players for better players from different teams in a management menu which brings a lot more depth to this mode. League mode ? Select 16 teams to take part in a round-robin series of matches. Cup mode ? 16 countries compete for the hardest task of all the international Cup. My personal favorite mode is the Scenario mode ? This mode dares you to accomplish various objectives in 10 different games. Training mode ? Practice your shooting, free kicks, set plays and other soccer skills you will need to become the ultimate team. They wisely included a Player Edit and a Team Edit function so you can keep your teams up to date. You can change face maps, give your players names, adjust attributes, and so forth. MLS is great as a one-player game, thanks to an excellent scenario mode, but the multiplayer mode completely rules. You can imagine what a ball you'll have when sitting with four of your friends in front of one screen and kicking some major grass. The replays are also very cool but the only thing I don?t like is at half time they show all the good play that were done in the previous half. It gets really annoying after a while because you can?t skip it. But other then that it?s all good. After a team scores a goal the players will do some cool taunts just like you see on T.V. The referee complies suitably with the plays he never really gets in the way. And you can always be sure to see the linesman run by your screen once in a while.

On the control side, the developers finally tightened things up with interruptible motion capture animations. Previously on N64 and PS1, turns weren't interruptible, which meant if you started turning around, you had to complete the motion before changing direction again. In Extratime, you can fake the opponent out by quickly changing direction, resulting in a much faster, better controlling game. It is also much easier to keep the ball from going out of bounds when near the sideline. The analog stick lets you do quick turns and such great dribbles that you feel like constantly patting your own shoulder (if you had a free hand). Take a look at a few basic moves you can do. The ?Y? button allows you to do a through-pass (ignores the selected player and passes into the selected direction), ?B? aerial pass, ?A? Short pass, ?X? Shoot. You can also do other different moves like headers and heal lift and bicycle kicks which is a great. The right trigger in the speed burst which is always good to have but it is a bit hard to control you player because he won?t respond as quickly but you get used to it after a while. It is pretty easy to try to take a ball away from a player or try to injure him which will result into a red card. Controls become second nature after only a few minutes of play. You can also have your players be controlled entirely by the computer (automatic) or you can control him manually or you can even have both semi-automatic.

Soccer never looked better. The developer has managed to speed up not only the controls and the overall game (it takes only a split second for the game to cut to corner kicks and throw INS), but also the framerate. MLS is definitely more playable than any of the previous soccer games. The presentation is fantastic. Players argue with the refs after fouls, limp when injured and console their buddies when a penalty kicker misses its target. The stadium models look great. And as with every new Sports title, the menu designers have worked overtime to come up with beautiful looking, well conceived interface graphics. This is definitely the best-looking console soccer game out there. The victory celebrations are also very nice, as are some of the antics of the goalkeeper and the referees. You can also select different weather conditions (normal, rain, snow, etc), and switch between day and night. Squint your eyes and you would think this is a real ESPN broadcast. I swear, you will get a kick out of seeing the other player's defender being called to the referee, who angrily pulls out a red card. One thing that really stands out is the crowds. Not only are the crowd well animated, but your teams' flags wave in the background, bringing home the enthusiasm and excitement of a real soccer crowd.

MLS's sound is pretty good, with different levels of crowd roars and cheers (and boos), complimented by some drum patterns and horns coming from the tribunes. The kick/ball noises are all 100% authentic, as is the "clang" when you hit the goal post. The players themselves shout (which I think is brings a lot more realism). ESPN?s announcers (Jack Edwards and Louis ?Gooooaaaal!? Tapia) never really shut up, almost all the voice calls are on time, and the samples are clear and easy to understand. There is enough variation to keep the running commentary from getting annoying but some lines do seem to appear more often that others. Sometimes you may here ambulance sirens in the background which keeps the game even truer to life. In practice mode the guy that keeps screaming instructions at you is really annoying he keeps repeating the same thing over and over and his voice is so revolting but other than that the sound in MLS Extratime 2002 is superior to any other sports game on the xbox. The music in the main menu is a really catchy tune it has a good beat that pumps you up for the tasks that lay in front of you. When you create your own player you can decide if the ESPN announcers will call you by your number or by your nickname or even by your last name that is a really cool element that every sport game should have.

For hardcore soccer fans MLS Extratime 2002 is a must. The game play is wildly exciting and the graphics are aswome. That?s all I have to say. Keep up the good work!!!

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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