Matt Keller
24 Apr, 2003

International Superstar Soccer 3 Review

PS2 Review | Konami have just released the third game in their long running soccer series. Can the arcadey gameplay of ISS fit in with the likes of PES and FIFA?
Over the past 10 years, Konami has had two separate football game brand names; Konami Osaka’s International Superstar Soccer and Konami Tokyo’s Pro Evolution Soccer. The two games did once go under the same name, but recently split to better distinguish the brands. Pro Evolution Soccer is the more simulation dominated game, while ISS is the more accessible, arcade style game. ISS3 is the latest in the arcade series of Konami football – can it prove that arcade football is worth your dollar?

A new coat of paint

It has been about a year since we’ve seen International Superstar Soccer on the Playstation 2, and like any other yearly update ISS3 boasts a whole set of new features to try and pry away your hard earned money. First off is a new enhanced graphics engine which allows for easily recognisable players. There are also now more than 90 FIFPro licensed clubs and international teams, meaning you get the real player names and likenesses. A “mission mode” has been introduced, which throws you into a set situation to win points to spend on special features. The last enhancement we will mention here is the new focus camera – when a player passes the 16 meter line, you can press L1 to get the camera to focus on him, allowing for you to produce skillful maneuvers to confuse your opponents, amongst other things.

The thing about football

ISS3 is about keeping things accessible, so the gameplay is very arcade-like to allow for pick-up-and-playability. This means that all the simulation aspects we’ve come to love in Pro Evolution Soccer are simplified for all intents and purposes in ISS3. Other aspects of the gameplay have been simplified – the computer AI is fairly lenient in the default mode, game length can only be set for up to 7 minutes, strategy settings are simplistic and limited, free kicks are much simpler, and so on.

ISS3 has a stack of different play modes available. There’s the stock standard friendly match, a points challenge match which requires you to risk some points you’ve earned in friendly match victories, Mission Mode where you are place in a game situation and are required to achieve certain objectives, International Cup; a tournament featuring teams from 58 different countries, Custom League which allows you to customize the teams in the league and the number of rounds etc., World League which allows you to choose to compete in either a Euro cup or USA cup, and a training mode for honing your skills.

Player edit, player create and team edit modes have been included for those of you who wish to customize your sides. You can also create your own stadium for your team in the stadium editor – a neat little concept I don’t believe I have seen before. You can purchase more parts for your uniforms and stadium in the Catalog using the points you have earned in the Mission Mode and in friendly matches.

Multiplayer is probably the main drawing card for ISS3. If you’ve got a bunch of mates who love football, but aren’t very experienced with videogames, you’re probably going to have more luck getting them hooked on ISS3 than PES (for starters). The mission mode, World League and Custom League all have the potential to keep ISS3 inside your Playstation 2 for months to come. On the flipside, the arcade nature of the game may wear a little thin quickly, and you’ll learn how to exploit various faults in the game. The AI in the game isn’t particularly strong on its default setting, so expect some high single player scores after a few games.

Slickly presented

Visual presentation is one of ISS3’s strongest assets. The game boasts a TV style interface, with various statistics coming up during play, as well as the way that it behaves during the game introduction, with close ups on players as they walk out of the dressing room, panning along the teams during the anthems, and so on. Thanks to the FIFPro licensing agreements, players now carry their real names and appearances – so #7 for England is called Dave Beckham and looks like an ugly git. Player animation is silky smooth and fairly realistic.

The stadium presentation is more of a mixed bag. The pitch and ground look good on the whole, but the grandstand seems to have a slightly blurrier look to it. The grass can be a little hard on the eyes when zoomed in too close, but looks very detailed on the whole. The ground gets worn throughout the match – if a player does a slide tackle, he will take a patch of grass out with him, and this decal will stay there throughout the match. ISS3 runs at an excellent pace thanks to a 60hz mode provided by the developer.

Commentary on any Konami football title has always been of a questionable quality, and ISS3 continues this “tradition”. John Champion and Mark Lawrenson provide the commentary this time around, and while they are both decent commentators, the dialog they provide leaves a lot to be desired. The menu music is passable, providing nothing noteworthy and the in game audio is up to scratch with some very atmospheric crowd calls and chants.

Left my shin pads at home

International Superstar Soccer 3 is a decent arcade soccer experience. It isn’t without flaw, as its AI is limited in areas and the whole arcade styling can wear thin quickly. Commentary is an area which both KCEO and KCET need to work on. If you’re an average Joe with a bunch of mates who are new to videogame soccer, than this is your game. Anyone with experience or a craving for simulation and realism should opt for Pro Evolution Soccer.
The Score
Worth a look if you're not too fussed about dealing with every last detail of managing your team, or need a brief introduction to the world of videogame football. Veterans of other football titles can skip this one. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related International Superstar Soccer 3 Content

ISS 3 to see the light of day in May
07 Feb, 2003 Internation Superstar Soccer 3 scheduled for May-release
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 Preview
02 Sep, 2007 We play kick to kick with PES 2008.
LGC 07: Best of GC winners revealed
29 Aug, 2007 Go on. Guess.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
  Konami of Europe
  Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka

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