Though football simulators have been around for a while, the genre’s pretty much been dominated by EA’s FIFA series, and, to a lesser extent, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer games. However, rarely has anybody actually ever felt the need for more games, because these two companies have actually done a marvellous job of keeping the genre fresh by introducing loads of innovations to their respective series every year.
However, it seems someone finally wants a piece of that pie, as Ubisoft enters the market with ‘Pure Football,’ a game which they promise delivers the ‘authentic football experience.’ Obviously, with the FIFA World Cup well under way now, Ubi also wants to cash in on the general soccer mania.
However, it unfortunately appears that Pure Football is just that- a cynical, half hearted attempt on Ubisoft’s part to cash in on the hype and hysteria that usually accompanies the world cup.
The game starts on the wrong footing. Although the cover promises an ‘authentic football experience,’ Ubi avoided some expense by not having this game a FIFA licensed product. The result is that we’re left with a street football setting, quite like EA’s own FIFA Street series.
However, unlike FIFA Street, which were on the whole good games, Pure Football seems to have several glaring issues, some fundamental problems that would require a complete overhaul of the game’s engine if they are to be rectified. These include some very serious control issues, as well as a complete lack of realism where the on screen visuals are concerned.
Take for instance the way the game handles shoots- to add more complexity and presumably, the pressure of actually shooting in real time on the field, the game has a meter which must be perfectly charged before hitting the button to fire the shot. However, while this lends the player with exactly the right amount of requisite control over the power of the shot, it absolutely takes away the ability to control where the ball goes. So in order to have that neatly powered shot actually going into the goal, you must first position yourself correctly, and then shoot, all the while hoping that neither the ball, nor your player, nor any player in the opposing team, moves from their current position.
But shooting is just one of many issues. Dribbling and passing seem to be broken, as most of the times, the players don’t really adjust the speed, timing and angle of their passes at all, no matter what. Their passing mostly remains a leisurely affair, which means that it essentially is a joke to both, lose possession of the ball, and to regain it. It completely undercuts any tension or pressure that the game might have attempted to create, and leaves the game a curiously drained and hollow experience, a mechanical atrocity that doesn’t deserve to be played anyway.
Worse still is the game’s AI. Apparently, both your team members, and your opponent’s, are quite oblivious to their surroundings, as their reactions make no sense otherwise. Goalkeepers dive in the opposite directions, players run into each other, the ball is passed around to nothing at all. Then there are the anachronistic referees, who seem to award every foul with a penalty… it’s all a glitchy, buggy mess, totally inexcusable no matter how you want to spin it.
The game promises an online mode, one that is unfortunately no better than the single player mode. The biggest culprit here is the fact that there seems to be a disconnect between the single player and online modes. Any progress or advances that you might have made in the single player mode don’t matter, since the online mode requires you to build a team from scratch, using what are known as ‘Pure’ points, collected throughout the single player modes.
Ultimately, Pure Football is a total mess. The graphics are a pixelized and blurry jumble, with little to no detail, and cartoony figures for the players, the controls totally take away from the immersion of the game, the online mode seems to be a hastily put together afterthought, the lack of the FIFA licence really hurts the title, and the title just plain sucks.
If you really want a game for your football mix, I’d advise you to stay away, unless you really have a deathwish. The EA Sports FIFA games, or PES should suffice. Hopefully, though, Ubisoft’s next football title will actually be worth playing. As it stands now, though, Pure Football marks an inauspicious first foray for the French publisher into the genre.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Some vaguely interesting new concepts
Stupid AI. Complete lack of authenticity. Broken controls. Online is a mess. Pixelised graphics. Stuttering framerate.