If you’re a little tired of your football menu consisting of a mixture of Pro Evolution Soccer, FIFA, Football Manager et al, then help is at hand. Yet, as is increasingly the case in the PC software market, you won’t find the antidote to brand dominance on the shelves of your local software emporium, nor by spending five minutes in the company of Amazon. No, instead you’ve got a teeny weeny bit of work to do.
It’s worth it though. What you need to do is navigate over to www.newstarsoccer.com and download the trial version of New Star Soccer 3.
At first glance it’s as rudimentary and out of date a football game as you can probably think up, mixing in graphics that Sensible Soccer was rivalling back in the mid-90s and an interface that’s lacking much in the way of visual punch. Yet in the same way that Sensible Soccer, and Kick Off before it, prioritised playability above all other factors, so New Star Soccer gets its house firmly in order, resulting in a supremely playable and fresh football extravaganza.
The twist to it is that you take the role of one player. You set him up, choose a position you want to play, toggle appearance, favoured foot, that kind of stuff. Then as a youngster it’s off to a trial, to try to get a contract with a club. A trial involves completing certain challenges, such as dribbling, passing and shooting, and how well you fare determines any contract offer. Then, once you’ve found a club, it’s down to business.
As a young player there are plenty of influences to consider. You want to keep your friends and family happy by spending time and money with them, and likewise it’s worth keeping the fans and gaffer pleased too. You’ll need to get your confidence up and there’s also training to consider.
Training, which forms a major part of the game, uses up energy (you have a finite amount each week and you need to save some for match day), but boosts your player across numerous skills. Some training has instant benefits with no effort required, but if you want to improve your set pieces, shooting, passing, dribbling or tackling, you need to take on one of 30 training exercises in each discipline.
Succeed and the relevant attribute is boosted. Fail and you’ve just wasted energy. You also have temptations such as drink, drugs and gambling to distract you, but each of these naturally comes with consequences.
All this though, ultimately plays second fiddle to the matches themselves, which are extremely compulsive. As one player on the pitch, you always need to be aware of your positioning, when to call for the ball, when to pass to a team-mate and when to carry on yourself. And it’s no pushover either, with three difficulty levels to keep you on your toes.
In the early days you can expect a striker to find goals very hard to come by, and a defender to constantly be caught out of position. Practice makes perfect, of course, but this is a game with real, tangible appeal that’ll take some time to master on the top level. Fortunately, with transfers, new contracts, sponsorship deals and internationals to consider, there’s plenty of incentive to keep going.
At a price tag just north of £12, it’s also an astounding bargain. With playability that rivals much of the competition, what it lacks in spit and polish it compensates for in the sheer amount there is to do. And, given that we’ve had the game for several weeks now with no sign of it being uninstalled on our test machine, we’re confident it scores well in the long term as well as the short.
Company: New Star Software