Urban Freestyle Soccer - Review
Soccer. For being the world’s most popular sport, it’s no surprise that most of the videogames based on it are top quality, such as the simulation-based Fifa and ISS series. Arcade-style soccer games are harder to come by, and it seems especially strange given that ‘street’ sports games are the latest thing these days, with the recently released arcade and street incarnations of NFL and basketball. Silicon Dreams have come to the rescue with their new NBA-Street-meets-FIFA-soccer equivalent, Urban Freestyle Soccer. Set in the dark slums, 10 various gangs are vying for territories and tournaments in the urban soccer world. Being an underground equivalent of the world game, you may as well throw all the rules, restrictions and limits about soccer out the window; this is a no-holds-barred affair.
The introduction movie is meant to set the scene for the game, but unfortunately it just paints the setting for a second-grade game; the acting and music is cheesy, and makes you feel like anything but tearing up the asphalt. From here, you get the option to sit through a tutorial to teach you the moves (the tutorial is quite helpful, even though the controls are simple and annoying), or play one of the game’s many modes; where the aim of each is simply to beat the opposition in a 4-on-4 game of street soccer. There are several game modes, involving tournaments and fighting for and defending home turf, but the variety between them is very little.
|Can anyone think of a caption here?|
Silicon Dreams have opted for a strange control scheme for Urban Freestyle Soccer, whereby they begin with simple odd combinations for certain moves (such as double tapping pass for a one-two move; frustrating if you want to pass through a middle teammate quickly). Then they have awkward 3-button combinations for other maneuvers for things such as jumping off walls and picking up stray objects. This wouldn’t be too bad if it was kept in an orderly fashion (like the NBA Street series with the turbo combinations), but the combinations aren’t very familiar, nor consistent, and are more of a headache than an advantage.
The lackluster AI in the game, particularly from the goalkeepers, adds more fuel to the frustration fire. You’ll get deja-vu more often than not; run, pass, shoot, score; run, pass, shoot, score. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that, unless you want to complicate things for yourself. The goalkeepers are most probably the dumbest yet in a videogame; shots make it through the back of the net more often than not, which not only is cheap for both teams, but makes the scores excessively large for games (10-20 goals per team per game isn’t unheard of in Urban Freestyle Soccer).
|Cool... Girls can play too.|
Visually there isn’t much to Urban Freestyle Soccer. The player models aren’t terribly complex but they stand out from one another, which helps during the heat of a game. In contrast, the environments surrounding the street ‘pitches’ are nicely detailed, which include a variety of objects to beat your opponent senseless with. Average players + nice environments = a steady frame rate, which is nice but nothing special given the standard of graphics. The menu system is average also; with jaggies galore (didn’t I banish them to the depths of hell a few months back?), but the game also supports 60Hz mode which is a feature that is slowly becoming more and more common in PAL releases.
|Can you see a sponsor?|
Urban Freestyle Soccer is backed up in the audio department by some big name bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and TLC, which make for some enjoyable listening aside from the standard grunts, groans and taunts. Sadly the playlist is very short, and you’ll be hearing the same songs after not long at all.
|Grass textures - average.|
From the outset, Urban Freestyle Soccer seemed like a second-rate game, which is a shame given that there is an open market for a fun, addictive arcade-style soccer game. It surprising that EA, creating both the FIFA and Street series hasn’t created a game like Urban Freestyle Soccer already; but perhaps this will be their motivation to get to work on one. Hire this game if you must fulfill an arcade-street-soccer urge, but if you’re after a ‘different’ sports game in the same vein, there are many far better soccer games and street-style games available.
Review By: Chris Gobbett
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|GRAPHICS||Average player models, with some pleasing environments.||60%|
|SOUND||Some nice RnB and Hip-Hop tunes, with repetitive player samples.||58%|
|GAMEPLAY||Unintuitive controls that are both too simple and too complex.||49%|
|VALUE||The AI won’t urge you to replay it to get all the unlockables.||59%|
|OVERALL||The only major plus for Urban Freestyle Soccer is that it’s one of the first street arcade soccer games for the PS2; aside from that, it’s quite a shallow, frustrating attempt at soccer. Hire it if you must, but for arcade soccer action I’d rather grab the latest FIFA and make the referee deaf and blind.||52%|