Overall Score 73%
For me, Awesome Soccer is a really mixed bag. There are some solid gameplay concepts wrapped up in a technically lacklustre shell. Some moments of brilliance contrast with periods of mediocrity. And all the while, the reviewer that thought he hated the game upon first play-through is forced to admit that the damn thing is slowly growing on him. You see, Iím a massive fan of the New Star Soccer series and its fastidious attention to detail. I love the stats and the career progression, the role-playing and the dramas that unfold both on and off the pitch. Awesome Soccer offers virtually none of this and I was immediately disappointed.
This game is a heavily action orientated soccer game where realism and details make way for high speed mayhem, outrageous shots and massive slide tackles. Itís played from a top down perspective, and can accommodate one or two players.
There are numerous technical glitches and bugs. Right off the bat, the game engine failed consistently to render the pitch for my first friendly match at my laptopís native resolution of 1400x900. After kicking the resolution back to 1024x768, I was finally able to play. You will need a gamepad to properly enjoy the game. Playing with the keyboard seems to restrict your ability to properly control your shooting, passing and tackling on the diagonals - on my keyboard, only 2 of the 4 directions worked. A player with the ball who suddenly rotates 180 degrees will punt the ball at full power in the direction that he was originally facing. Highlight reels that can be saved in-match function seemingly at random, and old save game files cannot be organised or deleted through the in-game interface. When loading a game where the playerís team is on the right-hand side of the pre-match screen vs. the AI, selecting a game controller produces a java error. The interface buttons are often unresponsive to mouse clicks, and the interface is annoyingly only partially able to be navigated with the game controller. A free kick played from within a teamís 22 yard box occasionally ends up with the ball mysteriously teleporting into their own goal. If a player who is yellow-carded is replaced during a match, the fresh player is recorded as having a yellow against his name even as he runs on to the pitch. There are other bugs that I donít have time or space to mention, but nearly all should have been picked up in alpha/beta stages of development.
Still, despite all this, the fast-paced game remains quite a bit of fun to play and the list of features that I have enjoyed is almost as long as the list of detractions. Without a doubt the ability to add extreme amounts of aftertouch to shots makes for some absolute screamers on goal form all over the pitch. Pretty much whenever you are in possession anywhere in the opposition half, you've a good chance to score. You can even bend a shot both ways in mid-air for some spectacular results. I love the way that aftertouch is applied in absolute terms rather than relative to the kickers position; a lot of similar games get that horribly wrong. The sheer quantity of teams, leagues and tournaments is impressive even though the database is not entirely complete, and licensing restrictions mean that teams like Liverpool FC need to be named as the Merseyside Reds. But the included editors are a snap to use, and in just a few minutes the user can either modify existing data or create rosters, home and away strips, badges and formations for custom teams. Scenarios are limitless with the ability to create custom competitions featuring existing teams and user created teams with no restrictions at all. I love the achievement system that sees the player rewarded with golden balls for various in-game feats like scoring a hat-trick, or pulling off a clean sheet victory in a league match (in all there are 33 of these to collect). There are a good range of AI difficulty levels that will accommodate players of all skill levels. Last but not least, the sound effects are fantastic, from the chanting of the crowds to the sound of the ball glancing off the cross-bar on a hard hit shot from 30 yards out.
Some features that I think could be improved on include the ball physics, especially the lack of implied inertia. The ball feels weightless and stops far too quickly on the grass pitch. Iíd like to see a bit more variation in the graphics and especially the animations. A few different after-goal celebrations wouldnít hurt either, perhaps some weather effects, and a day/night effect so that all the matches would have a slightly unique feel to them. Even though support for analogue controllers is present, the players are still restricted to running, tackling and shooting on one of 8 directions only. The game would have a much more organic feel if true freedom of movement were present, since the game is rubbish when played with the keyboard in any case.
Awesome Soccer definitely has quite a bit going for it, not least a lot of potential. With a bit of focus on killing bugs and glitches the game could easily be a gold star contender. Even as it is, an exhaustive list of features and content make the game addictive and fun, be that as it may interspersed with bouts of frustration. Whether youíve modded yourself in as the captain of Chelsea, battling it out in the American MLS, or trying to take the Socceroos to the World Cup finals, thereís an awful lot to do.
Actually, right now and just in time for the festive season, the developers are offering this game at half price! Itís hard to argue that the game isnít worth a play through for that kind of money, and especially if youíre a big fan of games like Sensible Soccer or Kick Off, then Awesome Soccer will endear itself to you immediately.
Keywords: awesome soccer review, red27 studios reviews, red27 studios games, awesome soccer scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.