Midway continues its extreme brand of Blitz sports and finally brings it to the soccer pitch in Red Card Soccer.
Midway’s extreme brand of “Blitz” sports action has branched out from Football to now cover games in many sports. Red Card Soccer is Midway’s take on soccer, with wild slide tackling and take downs added to the Internationally beloved sport. It sounds great, especially considering how good Midway’s sports games have been recently. Sadly, Red Card Soccer offers very little in the way of fun for even the most hardcore of soccer fans.
The graphics do a fine job of rendering playing fields and players. The commentary is a little bland, but is also surprisingly professional considering the rowdiness of the title. There are a fair amount of options such as selecting the time of day, weather and such. However, once the game begins it becomes clear that the real fun is to be had in slide tackling opponents. In true Blitz fashion, you can rough up the other team like nobody’s business, and the animations for this brutality are really fun.
There is a strictness meter you can set, though if it is useless to play with it on any setting but off. The game is so action-centric and slide tackling is so much fun, that you’ll want to be as violent as possible and get away with it. If the strictness meter is on at all, there’s a very good chance you’ll be awarded yellow and/or red cards by the referee at some point in the match. It’s kind of cool to hurt another player bad enough to get called for it, though the more strict the game is, the less you’ll be able to get away with. In other words, it’s pretty pointless the strictness meter is in there at all, save for the namesake of the title.
The violence probably wouldn’t be such a highlight if Red Card were actually enjoyable as a game of soccer. One of the biggest reasons it isn’t fun is that the control is absolutely horrid. The control scheme isn’t intuitive and takes quite a bit of getting used to. Z is used to shoot the ball, and this doesn’t work very well. Getting used to an awkward control set-up is one thing, but actually fighting against the responsiveness of a controller can make a game downright unplayable.
If you’ve played Eternal Darkness, you might be familiar with the insanity effect that reverses the control of your player. So if you press down, you go up, press right, you go left. For some strange reason, I experienced a very similar phenomenon while playing Red Card Soccer, where instead of running towards the goal to score, my player ran the ball right to the sideline and out of bounds. I wanted to scream “THIS…ISN’T…HAPPENING!” but it was. This control anomaly happens more than it should and make controlling the players and ball very difficult indeed. The troublesome control drains almost all enjoyment from the game...except for the slide tackling. The control scheme does make it pretty easy to do that.
The Nintendo GameCube now has quite a selection when it comes to soccer titles. I have yet to try them all, though I do feel I can safely say that Red Card Soccer is probably the worst. I loved Hitz, I love Soccer Slam, I love FIFA. I wanted to love Red Card Soccer too, and again, it’s hard not to enjoy bringing the pain. But that’s it. It’s not a fun soccer game, or even a very controllable one. If you must know more, give it a rent.