In less than 24 hours, the first games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be played. For a month, teams representing qualified nations around the world will play for the honor of being crowned the world champion.
So in that sense, thoughts are focused on the sport. Along comes Pure Futbol for the PlayStation 3. The sub-head, right on the cover, states it is “Authentic Soccer.” If Pure Futbol is authentic soccer then my dog quotes Shakespeare in English with a flawless British accent. In other words, it’s not authentic in the slightest. That is a marketing ploy, an enticement parlaying of the fervor gripping the world.
Pure Futbol is, instead, an arcade game in the same vein as EA Sports FIFA Street, but a poorer cousin at best. The controls are irritating – try aiming a shot that has been powered up and you will understand – and the game seems so caught up in effects that it completely misses the point of a five-on-five exercise. It should be fun, fast-paced and responsive. Pure Futbol misses two of those (the game has a lively pacing) elements and that is apparent from the get-go.
And if the frustrations of the controllers were not bad enough, wait until the AI is tested; it fails miserably. As someone who has been around the sport (playing, coaching and occasionally refereeing), see the blatant missteps in the gameplay is frustrating. Sure, it has nice effects, but in a playground setting (just players and not officials of any kind), the play is self-officiated and some elements are obviously lacking in that regard. The game goes for the cheap thrill of ankle-breaking dribbling moves, or aerial shots rather than get the game right.
The idea for the game is laudable – you put together a team to play against some pro players. There is a campaign mode with a captaincy in the offing, and there is a sub-text challenge in that players on the opposing team can be recruited if the criteria for that is met. The game also has an online mode, but it is enough to struggle with the controls against flawed AI as opposed to struggle online with another player who is struggling and may just dump the game regardless of the score.
The game also has some fundamentally sound ideas including voice chat, the leaderboards and matchmaking system, but again – if the game is not worth playing, then no one will appreciate that element. Graphically the game opted for an interesting art style and it works reasonably well. There are 230 elite players featured in the game on 17 international teams and three legendary teams, and chances are – if you are a futbol fan – you will recognize some of the players easily.
This is a game that, had it been more willing to go the ‘authentic arcade’ route, eliminated some of the pretentious elements such as the penalty system, and then paid more attention to the actual structure of the game and the AI, it could have done well. As it is, watch the World Cup on television and bypass this effort.