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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
April 16, 2002
RedCard 20-03

RedCard 20-03

 Written by Matt Swider  on May 10, 2002

Full Review: NFL Blitz is to football as what RedCard is to football. Hmm...Wait a minute.

Ever since NFL Blitz premiered in 1998, the title took the no rules attitude to the extreme, causing the game that's comprised of hits, to become a hit year after year. It didn't take Midway long to realize that the driving force behind Blitz could be applied to other various sports. Besides NFL Blitz, Midway has been churning out brands like NHL Hitz, MLB Slugfest, NBA Ballers, and finally ventures into Soccer with RedCard 20-03. Essentially, most would expect RedCard to be quite similar to NHL Hitz; three on three gameplay with the ice melted, grass grown, and a ball replacing the puck.

Instead of following this formula again, Midway decided that it would resemble a traditional soccer game with the exception of the rules being stripped down. There are already a couple big soccer competitors out there already, namely EA Sports with its FIFA franchise and Konami with the ISS series. While both of these companies have scored hat tricks with their brands, EA many times over, Midway is still an amateur to the game. Yet the company is able to deliver a solid game of football, while still presenting the no rules aspect for extra thrills.

RedCard's setup on the field is resembles a standard soccer title by including 11 on 11 play, however the main difference comes with the ability to alter the referee strictness. If the strictness is turned all the way up, not only does this defeat the whole purpose of the Midway title, but it also causes the game to be interrupted time after time for the name of the game, the infamous Red Card. It becomes a tad ridiculous when almost every defensive play is called for either a yellow or red card. Chances are, those who try to leave the strictness at a high rate once, won't be visiting that end of the bar ever again.

Turning the strictness all the way down or even off will allow the true principle of the game shine. Like Blitz, there are no bars to the amount of intense defense you're permitted to have. Defensive moves include sliding tackles, sliding kicks, and even punching, kicking, pushing and shoving to the head and backs of opposing players. There's always the possibility that the referee could catch these moves, but chances are, like the announcers say, he's the only one to miss the violation. Still, the game isn't totally off the wall. There are still some basic rules that keep it intact, namely that the goalie is off-limits. This way players can't charge the goal area, slide tackle the goalie and score at will. To compensate, players can slide kick the referee, resulting absolutely no consequence and some really fun vengeance.

On the offensive side of things, the controls are rather easy to learn as well. Just like Blitz, the entire scheme of the game is basically setup the same way. Moves include the basic shoot, pass, and hot dog looking spins and turns to avoid defenders. Like normal, gamers can use the boost to increase a player's speed, or apply it to any number of different actions. To enhance certain offensive and defensive tactics, players can combine their boost and execute the move for some full force. One of the most prominent moves in the game happens to be the slow-motion goal kick. When enabled, the entire screen shifts into a close up, matrix type view where players complete a masterpiece looking kick for a chance at the goal. While its not always guaranteed to go in, it looks impressive.

In many soccer games, in addition to sports that feature a goal of any sort, scoring doesn't seem based on skill or precision, but rather randomly making the shot. RedCard is one title that suffers from this very point. It's tough to judge when a shot will go in and or if it will be deflected, making it useless to put much effort into scoring a goal. Its more of a by chance situation, hoping it goes in. However, despite this minor flaw, the gameplay remains unbroken for the most part.

With authentic licensing featuring international soccer teams and stadiums, you bet Midway put a lot of up close and detailed shots into the game. There are plenty of various points where players receive close up shots, either making some sort of taunt or reaction to the gameplay. The character models are true to life and contain a suitable amount on animation in both offense and defense. Stadiums and the grass textured fields look solid, especially during a goal celebration where the crowd roars with impressive audio, and the field becomes cluttered with streams, confetti, and camera flashes. In addition to the yelling ands chanting from the stands, other sound effects include your standard kick of the ball, referee's blowing whistles, and oh yeah, players getting kicked around and beaten to the ground.

While the commentary is both accurate and complete, the two announcers in the game don't deliver what most might expect in terms of Midway fashion. Yes, the calls are professional and what not, but the missing elements of jokes, sarcasm, and quips don't add up. This makes the game feel even more like a run of the mill soccer title, the direction that Midway doesn't want their franchises traveling.

Bottom Line
There isn't a whole lot to complain about in RedCard, and for a rookie title, things went rather smoothly. However, there are several other soccer games to chose from, and that this point, RedCard doesn't exactly fit the profile of a Midway, no rules title. It ventures more into the traditional soccer game more than anything, making us feel like we've seen it all before. However, it's still an experience to play. While its not total anarchy like Blitz or Hitz, the relaxed rules set in a thrill like few other soccer games to date.

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