Urban Freestyle Soccer
Acclaim and Gusto Games deliver something else than just another Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA game as with Urban Freestyle Soccer we get real street soccer on our dinnerplate. Goodbye grass fields, goodbye soccer heroes and especially… goodbye soccer rules ! With a team of four young studs you can play a game against teams (/gangs, decide for yourself) from other neighbourhoods. Next to the two goals, two keepers and the fact that you can score by getting the ball crossed a line there is little left from the “normal” soccer.
At the small yards where the game is located you’ll rather be doing show movements than occupying yourself with stuff like tactics or lineup. In other words: this is a completely different game compared to the above mentioned FIFA/PES
UFS contains lots of game modes. Turf Wars is one of those where you have to win against the local team in different neighbourhoods. In between won matches you’ll get upgrade points to improve your team’s properties (speed, strength, technique, shooting). Completing Turf Wars will give you access to Home Turf where the exact opposite happens; everyone wants to take over your field. You’ll have to beat all teams one after another and once having been victorious the Street Challenge will get unlocked. This is some kind of competition (with 18 games) where a similar rating system as in normal soccer is used.
Next to these there’s Versus Mode and Quick Start where just a duel between two teams is played (Quick Start doesn’t give you the option to choose your teams).
Last but not least, there’s the Freestyle Mode where you win by score the most skillpoints. All in all quite some variation.
Also the different teams are pretty cool; from skaters and the nigga’ crew to latino’s, they all have their own looks and technique. Still, that last part isn’t really noticeable in-game.
So, how does this play ? Well, first of all it’s best to start with the Training Mode so that you get the basic moves of UFS explained. You can pass, lob, set up one-two’s, run up against walls, tackle and just plain hit your opponent to the ground. You can even use some of the surroundings to hit them with. Pretty rough and completely in accordance with the philosophy of the game.
The controls are handled through keyboard or gamepad. After a while you’ll have mastered most things but tackling for instance isn’t always as precise. In the beginning the special moves you can do by using specific key combinations may cause for some frustration, especially when not knowing what to do when the first netbusteres appear.
“Netbusters ?” I hear you ask. These are some sort of power circles on the ground which appear for a couple of seconds when your skill bar at the top has been completely filled. Once you walk into one of those with your character holding the ball and make a special move a spectacular show move will take place which is almost always followed by a goal. You can compare it a bit with Fatality from Mortal Kombat, resistance is futile and your opponents will literally go down.
The graphics are decent but not world shocking. The characteres look convincing and the surroundings are filled with atmosphere but with close-ups before the game and after a score you’ll notice that the amount of detail in the models isn’t top-notch. The movements look great and I won’t say one single bad word concerning the music. Kicking the ball on the tones of “Go with the flow” of Quens of the Stone Age is always pleasant. Other groups like TLC, Feeder, Sub Urban and Method Man also give a hit to each team in the game.
The effects aren’t remarkable, neither in positive nor negative way.
This arcade-sports game has a couple of frustrating problems next to the graphical errors and some controle movements. The menu system can’t be used with a mouse and therefore shows too much like a console-game. As such this shouldn’t be a problem, but it does give the impression some things have been forgotten.
Saving and working with profiles is plenty available but when you want to shorten the length/difficulty of a game this will only happen for the new modes which you start. If you’re doing Turf Wars for instance, you’ll have to do with the settings as you set them up at the beginning.
The camera modes can be changed during a game and a positive note is that although there are only three available, they give a decent overview.
The replays are always a feast to watch but there’s no possibility to save your coolest scores, let alone to play with the camera angles during the replay. For a game with the emphasis lays on the moves, this is definitely a shame.
Changing your controls is yet another impossiblility while online multiplayer shines in not being present. Teammates sometimes just keep staring at a ball when it’s passing them while you would expect the AI to make them pick it up. Tackling is also something the AI isn’t capable of doing it seems and this shows itself even more due to the small amount of players and playing field. Going after the ball yourself is clearly the message.
Urban Freestyle Soccer contains a very original theme and for an arcade game a decent amount of modes and special moves. The atmosphere is definitely good with the music and overall design helping a lot to achieve this result. Unfortunately the games drops a few points in the details. The controls will require some getting used to and lots of little things clearly show we’re talking about a console port here. Despite the variety in modes and teams, UFS couldn’t keep my attention for very long.