This is fantasy football in its truest sense, with the player cast as manager of the Bruisers, a team of footy-crazed dwarves. Your task is to guide these stumpy soccer stars to Wild Cup glory in a knockout, knockabout tournament against seven rival teams of assorted mutant rabbits, sheep, bears and lizards (I kid you not).
The teams can use any means to win each crucial match (there is no girly Fair Play award - these guys think FIFA is the name of a brand of banana). You want the ball? Then simply run up to the player in possession, smack him in the face and then stamp on his head - now that's what I call tackling.
And things get worse (or better, depending on your point of view) the further the tournament progresses. After each win the victor is awarded a cash prize that varies depending on how many goals they scored and rival players they er... killed, and this can be used to equip the team with 'power-ups' such as guns, swords and shields, which up the violence quotient no end.
As well as the Wild Cup tournament, there are options to play in a league or in a one-off 'unfriendly' (oh, there's Millennium's crazy sense of humour again!) against the computer or a friend.
Wild Cup Soccer is the second in Millennium's Brutal Sports series and, if nothing else, comes as a refreshingly off-beat antidote to all those would-be Sensible Soccer beaters that we've been defuged with in the past couple of months. Thankfully, it's an approach that's paid off - Wild Cup Soccer is really rather good.
I enjoyed Wild Cup Soccer - in two-player mode, anyway. Charging around, mashing the opposition in a variety of satisfyingly gory and violent ways, is a right hoot and no mistaking. The amount of blood chucked over the pitch during a match is ridiculous - with game ratings already the talk of the industry, it is nice to see a game sticking its fingers up at the prudish suits, while keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek. Although the jerky screen update takes a bit of getting used to, it doesn't obscure the fact that the graphics are excellent, being imaginatively designed, colourful and nicely animated. And they're complemented by the meaty sound effects - when you make contact, you know you've made contact! As a one-player game of footy, though, Wild Cup Soccer stinks - it really lacks any fluidity or subtlety. Indeed, once you've tooled up your boys with swords and a couple of guns, you can rack up goal after goal by simply running down the middle of the pitch, punting the ball ahead of you, hanging back to shoot any opposition players who go near it, and then whacking it in the goal once you've taken out the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, the computer's artificial intelligence never seems to cope with this rather obvious tactic, and chances are you'll be holding the Wild Cup aloft sooner rather than later. As with most two-player games, though, if you play against a mate you'll love it to bits. You're not going to impress anybody with your stylish footy skills, but the sheer 'goriness' of it all has a big enough novelty factor to keep you coming back for more. And, when you've had enough of that, the management options bring in a new challenge which was notable by its absence in Brutal Sports Football. It's not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but it sure as hell is mine. I'm off for another go...
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