Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Jason Purdy
Published: July 20, 1999
Alexi Lalas International Soccer (ALIS) is the latest offering to the PlayStation’s sports genre from Take Two Interactive. It attempts to capitalize on the popularity of Kansas City Wizard’s star player, Alexi Lalas. What’s interesting is that Lalas offered more than just his name and appearance to the title. He and other teammates spent hours in the motion capture studio having their every twitch and twirl digitally laid over their on-screen avatars. This work definitely shows through in the quality of the game’s animation, even if the graphics do occasionally fall short in other areas.
So the big question on everyone’s minds is this: What does ALIS bring to the PSX soccer genre that isn’t there already? Sadly, not much. It offers two separate modes of play, including exhibition (“friendly game”) and tournament. The friendly game is exactly what it sounds like. There are no high stakes nor tension, just a quick match between two international teams. You jump in, pick your team and locale, and get right down to the soccer. The tournament mode is a bit more intense and has you kicking your way through a gauntlet of teams from all over the world. This mode is also far more robust, as it allows you to switch out players, change their starting positions on the field and generally customize almost everything. Any changes you make in the tournament mode are saved to the memory card, which is quite a nice touch for when you don’t want to have to reset your players after every half.
Probably the biggest advantage ALIS has going for it is the sheer number of teams available. Specifically, there are over 70 playable teams in the game, each of which has accurate roster information. While many of the foreign teams may seem unfamiliar, you can be sure they’re all accurate, down to the names on their jerseys. This is something that most soccer titles today definitely can’t boast about, and does give ALIS something of an edge. It also adds an element of realism to the proceedings that is rarely felt.
However, this is where the distinctions between ALIS and all the other soccer titles for the PSX end. This title consistently undershoots its goal, as there aren’t any genuinely altering features present that haven’t already been done better in FIFA ’99 and other titles. The team management system was nicely implemented and made it fairly easy to reorganize the players in each group; however, this certainly isn’t anything innovative.
One aspect I can definitely point to as being positive, though, was the camera system. Five different camera angles were made available, ranging from the typical side view to more dramatic Goalcams and close up shots. This went a long way towards making me feel like I was participating in a real, televised match more than simply pressing buttons on a control pad. Another area in which the graphics excelled was their raw speed. The framerate in ALIS was consistently high, and while soccer isn’t exactly the fastest sports known to man, things seem to have been sped up a little bit for the sake of gameplay.
I must also give some credit to the control system, which is intuitive from the very beginning and allows for some very cool effects. Most of your players have excellent ball handling skills, and by pressing the buttons at the right time, you can pull off some amazing stunts made all the more dazzling by the aforementioned motion-captured animations. With dozens of different passes and shots to be performed, things always looked interesting. Most impressive, though, is that you don’t have to spend hours wading through a complicated control schematic to execute them.
All in all, ALIS is a solid little soccer game, but the PlayStation sports arena is a harsh one, and titles that are simply “solid” are often quickly consigned to the bargain bins. Sadly, I can easily foresee such a fate awaiting ALIS. As I said, there are some fantastic sports games on the PSX these days, with Electronic Arts holding the rights to most of them. It can be very difficult for a relative newcomer such as Take Two to really make a name for themselves unless they put out a title that turns the heads of everyone who sees it and does something to truly revolutionize the genre. Unfortunately, ALIS is not that title.
Pages: 1 2 3