- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

I find soccer about as exciting as watching paint dry, so any video game equivalent would need to offer some major action and a unique experience before I fired up my entertainment console.
Luckily for Sega, its extreme simulation, Soccer Slam for Nintendo's GameCube, matches that finicky criteria and will give any hostile sports gamer a challenge he won't soon forget.
Following in the fine tradition of other over-the-top sports games like NHL Hitz and NFL Blitz, Soccer Slam demands that up to four buddies beat the tar out of one another's teams and ignore the rules associated with kicking a ball around a gigantic field.
Slightly less insane than a Tex Avery cartoon, the game involves a 3-on-3 matchup (and the goalkeeper) in which two teams filled with Mad Magazine-looking characters from around the world must quickly pass and score goals before getting seriously pummeled.
Modes include a grueling Practice session tackling 16 lessons (refining punches to the mouth are mandatory), Exhibition (beat a friend or computer), Tourney (select a team and play a five-day round robin event with up to 15 games) and Quest (select a team on a mission to take the revered Continental Cup while buying items along the way to make the core players more invincible).
A combination of turbo meters and power hot spots in the compact arenas gives the game its delightful edge.
For example, at certain points during the action a team logo begins floating around the field. This spotlight allows ball handlers to enter the realm of "The Matrix. A guy perfectly positioned in that ring can unload a maximum cinematic explosion on the goal, complete with slow motion bravado.
One feature consistent with other extreme titles is a point system for combining slick moves to provide boosts to players' strengths temporarily. Teams have their own special way of showing the adrenaline is flowing (El Fuego players burst into flames), but, surprisingly, no create-a-player function exists.
I loved the nonstop action. Combined with six teams to choose from featuring such legendary avatars as the seductive Lola of Subzero or massive gut jiggling exploits of the Tsunami team's Boomer, the game is as laughable as it is intense.
Of course, a loudmouth announcer screaming "Goal" is on hand, and there's plenty of trash talk from the crowd and the bombastic bunch of professionals.
Overall, Soccer Slam has everything that would make a hooligan Brit go out and buy a GameCube just to take part in the "anarchy reigns" challenge.


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