Overall Score 65%
I have to admit that I did have a bit of a chuckle to myself as I pondered over my predicament, whereby it seemed that I was reviewing a game based on a game based on a sport. However I have since discovered that Foosball (often referred to as Table Football or Table Soccer) is an internationally accredited sport in its own right. Therefore it stands that Foosball Maniac is really just a game based on a sport, and the whole situation is not nearly as amusing as I kind of hoped it might be. Oh well...
Foosball Maniac is a no-nonsense table soccer simulator. It does what it was designed to do exceptionally well in terms of capturing the feel and flow of the game and porting it onto your PC. The ball physics feel perfect and the speed at which the player rods can be spun around at is spot on to the real deal. The controls are simple; the player only needs to move the mouse up and down to move the rods in and out and use lateral mouse movement to spin them. Left and right mouse buttons are bound to special (non-essential) commands. In a concession to playability, all rods, some rods or just the rod closest to the ball can be selected by use of the keyboard. Control is intuitive and tactile; this will have most players up and running in no time at all.
Realistic sound effects complement the gameplay well. The crack of the ball when struck sweetly and the satisfying "ker-CHUNK" as you hammer one past the keeper help to make Foosball Maniac a very realistic simulation. I found that the backing music was quite repetitive and annoying. It seems that just the one track is looped ad-nauseum. The graphics are crisp and clean, and the game runs on my modestly performing desktop PC at 185 frames per second - somebody pour some water on this baby!
The first player to rack up 5 goals on their opponent is the winner, assuring some fast paced competition and adhering to the old mantra that a quick game is a good game. The AI comes in 8 flavours to challenge all skill levels, from Bob the noobie who can hardly muster the energy to spin the rods at all, to John the King, who would presumably have you wondering how you could possibly be 4-0 down after only 18 seconds of play. I can consistently beat up to level 5 (Adam), and struggle on level 6 (Lisa).
Multiple user profiles are available, and the AI opponents are unlocked in sequence by the player as matches are won. Once an opponent is unlocked, you can challenge them as many times as you like. Each profile can be customised with a plethora of options that affect control, gameplay assistance and overall game performance on your PC. I can't honestly think of any other interface options that really need to be present.
Despite having virtually no flaws in the playability criteria, the game does have some serious issues in terms of longevity for me. There's a distinct lack of purpose in it all. With only the one game mode, and no support for any kind of multiplayer connectivity, you're stuck with simple one-on-one shootouts against the AI. The game grew old on me extremely quickly. It's a real shame, because the core gameplay is very well implemented. A tournament mode, or a world tour might spice things up nicely. Having the player compete for money or playing for rank on a career mode would also work for me. The game needs more tables and environments and customisable strips, for example. As it stands only diehard Foosball fans will find anything in this game to keep them going for over 30 minutes or so.
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