A Game Of Kicks – Table Soccer Review
This game was reviewed on PlayStation Vita
Augmented reality titles are becoming more and more frequent as the months go by, and one of the more recent systems to use the feature is the PlayStation Vita. Having covered Fireworks and Cliff Diving, it’s time to turn our attention to Table Soccer, the last of the three free AR titles in the Vita’s catalogue.
Table Soccer plays like a strange combination of chess and, of course, soccer. Gamers are presented a full soccer team who are controlled like chess pieces, rather than people. Team members are moved via flicking them in the desired direction, and if that player possesses the ball, they will shoot or pass it instead. Should an opposing player be in the way, flicking past your intended target and then pulling your finger back to them will result in a lob shot.
Each team takes turns making actions, and after four movements, passes, or shots, control shifts to the other player. Alternately, if the opposite teams gains control of the ball, or it’s knocked out of bounds, the turn will switch early. There are two halves to a round, each lasting two minutes and thirty seconds. To prevent the leading team from simply idling and draining the clock, each player’s turn is limited to only a few seconds, forcing gamers to think under fire. This system is a little strange at first, and takes some time to master, but it results in very strategic gameplay that is fairly entertaining.
Of the six AR cards found inside your Vita box, only three are absolutely needed. Cards one, two, and three make up the playing field, and their distance apart from each other will determine its size. Should you wish to use the other three, cards four and five make up the stands for fans, and card six can be used as a scoreboard. Players are free to position the cards as they see fit, and a few variations of stands, boards, and soccer balls are available to choose from. These options give the player a light, but welcomed, sense of customization, preventing each match from simply being a visual cut-and-paste of earlier sessions.
In terms of game modes, Table Soccer has two to choose from: Play Now and Tournament. In Play Now, gamers simply play a single round between two teams of their choice, between a person and AI, two players via Ad Hoc mode, or passing a single Vita between players. For Tournament, a single player selects their favourite team, and battles against three other AI controlled teams within the category.
For the most part, Table Soccer provides some fun gameplay, but it simply doesn’t last long. Unless you’re a true fan hooked on it, or play frequently with other local players, it loses its charm after about an hour, mainly due to only having one level of AI difficulty. Additional game modes (such as a shootout mode or online play/tournaments) and difficulties would have given it a much greater lifespan, but one also can’t expect too much from a free title.
Something else players might have a problem with are the graphics, which are really nothing special. While the scoreboard, bleachers, and figurine players have a decent amount of detail to them, the field is absolutely hideous. Instead of projecting a legitimate grass soccer field onto your play area, the title simply attempts to blend the colours around the cards overtop of them. Not only does this create an unappealing pixilated surface, it’s terribly glitchy as well. Colours jump about randomly at times, and the edges between cards are subject to visual tearing – as though two cards were struggling to stand on top of each other. Again, players really shouldn’t expect a title of AAA quality for free, but more care in designing the main play area would have been greatly appreciated by gamers.
Audio, on the other hand, is a little better developed, though very minimal. Gamers will hear cheers from the audience, whistles from the referee, and the light “puft” of a foot hitting a ball. While these sounds create a nice stadium atmosphere, your personal tracklist will be taking over very quickly.
When the end-of-game whistle blows, Table Soccer is a decent little downloadable title. While it suffers from some visual issues, and is terribly short-lived, it’s still entertaining while it lasts and is a good go-to for some competitive fun between friends. If you’ve got the space on your memory card, it’s a free game you should really give a shot. You never know, it might just score on you!
Final Score: 4.5 / 5.0 and a shiny, but bland, soccer ball.
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