New Star Soccer 5 by New Star Games review

The best football game you've never heard of...
Photo of New Star Soccer 5 by New Star Games
$20 via download

The idea behind New Star Soccer 5 is actually quite simple: you take on the role of a rookie footballer, and try and build yourself a career. You do this by being one player on the pitch, and playing well. To play well, you have to train to build up your skills. To get your teammates to pass to you, you have to get on with them. To get picked, you need to keep the boss onside. You also need to earn money, to keep a contract, to make the fans happy… you get the gist.

Hybrid success
The game handles this marriage of football and light role-playing elements surprisingly well, and for the first two or three hours, New Star Soccer 5 feels like one of the most addictive football games on the planet. It’s utterly engrossing.

The game’s overhead perspective on the pitch harks back to the likes of Kick Off and Sensible Soccer – and while it’s frustrating at points being just one part of a match, it’s not long before you’re used to it.

New Star Soccer 5 by New Star Games

Intelligence failure
The problem, though, is it’s unlikely to be long before you’re really good at it. While lone developer Simon Read has worked wonders with the game, it’s in the game’s AI that things fall a little. The reason? Once you’ve worked out how the approach of the AI plays out, it’s not too tricky to beat it. After that, the level of challenge that New Star Soccer 5 offers falls down, quickly.

But still: how can you really grumble? New Star Soccer 5 takes more gambles than Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA combined, and while not everything comes off, most of it does. The £15 asking price (the price is charged in American dollars, so that’s a bit of an approximation)? It’s a bit of a steal, really…

Company: New Star Games

Website: http://www.newstarsoccer.com/

Positives
  • Something different, and at its best, utterly compelling.
Negative
  • Once you know how to beat it, you'll beat it easily.

Verdict

You'd be forgiven for thinking that there's no room in the football game market for anything but FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer and Football Manager. Yet, off the radar of many, a small indie game has built up over the years, and gradually become more and more sophisticated. That game? New Star Soccer. And with its strong fifth outing, it deserves a bit more success than it's getting.