Let's see now... (Gets out his copy of the Reviewers' Book of Football Jokes.) Nope... used that. Used that. And used that, too. Shit. All three football game jokes have been thoroughly exhausted. Bring back the days of no football games, I say. At least we didn't have to review two or three of them every month. I'm stuck now. Hang on, I've just remembered it's a French game. (Consults well-thumbed office copy of the Big Book of French Game Jokes.) Aha. The French are pretty weird, aren't they? (Oh, no, not that one again. A Reader.) I suppose we'd better get on with it. Let's look at the latest (yawn) really interesting, technologically stunning pretender to the pc footballing game crown.
The (yawn) game options
Alright, what you get is all the usual stuff that you always get. They have different amusing names, depending on the game itself, but they're always the same; you should know the sort of thing by now: some kind of cup option, some kind of league option, and some kind of customisable tournament option. This one has all of those. And like all the others, it's v. poor.
So what's crap about it?
Well, there's the passing. An arrow pops up beside your player as you run with the ball, flicking about as you make progress. You can only pass in the direction the arrow's pointing, which, needless to say, is extremely annoying, for not only does it almost always point backwards when you're in your own half, but it changes direction so frequently that you often don't pass where you want to even if you take notice of it. And if you hold the pass button for too long, you even get the ball back again, because the arrow points straight back to the first player. This is a truly great feature; the ability to only play one-twos for ever is something we've always wanted in a game. What it means is you just use the punt button.
And then there's the AS (Artificial Stupidity). Players run away from the ball, despite your efforts to make them turn and make a tackle. There isn't even a "select the player nearest the ball" button to over-ride this. According to Ubisoft, the only way to activate the "select a player" thing is by letting go of all the buttons for a second or so. Now that's exactly what you want to do in the middle of a hectic game of football, and very helpful. Except it doesn't work even then - you actually have cases where the player nearest the ball stands stock-still, unselected while the one you're controlling runs about nearby.
It looks alright, though
Yes, it does. There are two views - side-on or isometric - and both look, as you say, alright. However, the side-on view is slow and difficult to score in, and the isometric view is faster and easier to score. The difficulty level only seems to adjust the speed, so it can be used to achieve a balance depending on which viewing speed you prefer. But if you add all the above problems to the differently rated, identically-performing teams and the fact that the ball-carrier is always the slowest player on the pitch, why on earth would you bother?
Basically, Action Soccer is pretty dull.
Download Action Soccer
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Whathver Your thoughts are on FIFA Soccer (personally I think it's dull as hell and plays by itself), it's certainly influencing the way software houses are designing their footie games. Sensible World of Soccer, when it finally makes it way on to the pc platform, will have an alternative viewpoint based on the FIFA game, and the viewpoints in Action Soccer also bear a spooky resemblance to FIFA. The gameplay is pretty similar, too, in as much as you run about with the ball stuck to your foot and don't really have to do much with the players to play the shots you want. Rounding off the general FIFA-ness of the product, there's even a live commentary by "noted" Soccer commentator Jonathan Pearce. We prefer Jonathan's OTT delivery to Tony Gubba's in FIFA. He gets very excited indeed whenever anything happens (we thought he was going to have a hernia at one point).
A game of two halves
However, one thing Action Soccer has that FIFA doesn't is a sense of humour. When someone scores, the players leap about wildly and do silly little dances in the way only French people can (they don't jump over fences anymore, though). Generally, all the animations are pretty smart. The player graphics are crisp, the sprites are very big and the players perform all sorts of little tricks, like backheels, overhead kicks and impressive volleys. There's a zoom feature for goal-kicks, throw-ins etc (with a close-up of the scene just before the action starts). You can play using a 2D viewpoint, which looks quite flash, but doesn't help much if you want to see what's going on. Or a 3D isometric viewpoint, which still looks cool and has the added advantage of allowing you to see more of the pitch, so you can see where you're kicking the ball.
The crowd sounds are quite realistic and the game has all the features you would expect from a modern footie game extravaganza, such as action replays, a choice of weather conditions, original cd music, ten team formations and three strategies, and a team editor (although you have to shell out to dos to use it).
Come on you lads
There are a couple of things that need to be sorted out, though. The game ran very slow, even on a Pentium 90, almost to the point that it became unplayable. The AI of the players is a bit suspect, too. When you get them to pass the ball, they almost always pass it to whoever is right beside them, when there's usually someone further down the pitch in a more advantageous position. Another problem is, whoever programmed the game obviously doesn't know that goalkeepers aren't allowed to pick up the ball when it's been passed to them by their own players.
Obviously the version we saw wasn't finished, but these niggles (especially the problem with the speed) need to be sorted out if Action Soccer is going to stand any chance of ousting the mighty Sensible Soccer from its position of number one God-like footie classic. Let's hope the programmers adjust these problems for the finished product, because with the excellent graphics and superb animation in the game. Action Soccer deserves a place at the top of the footie game ladder. Look out for a full review in next month's issue.