Soccer gaming: What Pure Football has to offer
The well-designed campaign in this game is so completely undone by broken gameplay this one isn't even worthy of a bargain bin purchase.
In the PS2 days, we used to marvel at how each new Pro Evolution Soccer game would require you to relearn it because it was such a change from the previous year. This year, I'm going to have to relearn PES, as well as FIFA, not because they'll be drastically different from last year, but because in order to play Pure Football and be good at it, I had to turn off half my brain and dumb the other half down until I reached the level of incompetence that this game requires.
There are so many things wrong with this game that I don't know where to begin. Since gameplay is most important, let's start with that. It's broken.
Even on the PS2, football games offered eight-direction player movement, but Pure Football at times seems more restricted than that.
Players run in all the wrong directions
This probably has more to do with the horrible animation, which also results in frustratingly delayed passes and shots. Passes only go in predetermined directions. You can aim anywhere you want, but the game will only allow the ball through its fixed paths, which may or may not be in the general direction you intended.
Granted that in arcade football games such as this, physics takes a back seat, but the ball physics here is appalling. Shots from the same position and with the same amount of power will at times thunder towards goal, and at other times, they'll loop gently, either into the keeper's hands or into goal, depending on what mood the finicky AI is in.
Players don't latch on to a pass!
Off-the-ball movement is horrendous too and it's often too much to expect a team-mate to latch on to a through pass, even if there isn't an opponent in sight. Things get all the more frustrating on the defensive side of things, with players running around in every direction except in the direction of the oncoming attacker.
Before getting into the game mode (yes, barring exhibitions, there's just one), let me outline the basics of Pure Football. This is a 5-on-5 arcade football game, much like FIFA Street.
There are meters and bars for everything. Every time to take a shot, a power meter shows up and where the meter is when you release the shot depends on how well you hit it. Release it in the green area and you'll hit a good shot; hit the red area and you're guaranteed to miss the target; but hit the small white area between the two, and you get a Pure Shot, which nine times out of ten will result in a goal if properly directed. There's also a separate Pure meter that fills up as you play well, giving you a guaranteed Pure Shot when full.
You have to dumb yourself down to play this game
There's also a foul meter -- make two or three misdirected sliding tackles to fill it up and your opponent is awarded a penalty.
Like I said, you'll have to dumb yourself down to play this game. You'll have to compensate for the unresponsive controls and hurry your shots; realise that even though there's enough room and space to make a pass, the rails-like predetermined passing corridors will probably misdirect it and give it to an opponent; take shots from hopeless distances because your chances of scoring from there are the same as when you're in the box.
Now, if you're able to adapt to its shambolic gameplay and make it through your horrific first hour with this game, you might just enjoy its campaign a little bit.
The campaign puts your created player and your custom team up against 17 national teams from around the world, all with official licenses.
Your aim is to make it from rank 18 to the top 8 within the space of 28 days, which would qualify you for the final tournament. You will play matches in a variety of locations -- from warehouses to rooftops -- spread across several European cities.
Events range from regular three and five-minute matches to races to X number of goals, to mini leagues and tournaments.
The campaign is well designed but rather short
You start with a squad full of nobodies, but in each match you play, you have a chance to transfer players from the opposing team to yours.
There are different objectives set before the match for each player, and you must complete the objectives to unlock players, for example, scoring goals using three different players to unlock Rooney, or maintaining 90 per cent passing accuracy to unlock Pirlo.
You also earn points after each game, and these can be used to level up your own created player, who is the captain of the team. It's quite a well laid-out structure and it would have been a lot more fun with a little co-operation from the gameplay department.
The campaign, while well designed, is rather short, and beyond that, there's not much to Pure Football. You can play Exhibition matches or hop online for some multiplayer. I would've liked to give my impressions of the online multiplayer, but I couldn't find anyone to play with, which didn't come as much of a surprise. So the campaign is pretty much all there is.
In terms of presentation, from the menus to the goal celebrations, it's quite stylish, but also quite bland.
Player models lack any sort of detail and animations are poor. Some of the environments look cool, particularly the venue for the Legends matches, but beyond that, it's all pretty ordinary. There's no commentary at all; all you'll hear is players occasionally calling for passes and praising a good save over the forgettable soundtrack. It looks and sounds like the low budget production it is.
Avoid buying this one at all costs
In conclusion, I would have to be totally insane to recommend Pure Football to anyone. Even if you liked the FIFA Street games, which were quite poor themselves, you should steer clear of this one.
The international licenses are wasted and the well-designed campaign is completely undone by broken gameplay and frustrating AI. It isn't even worthy of a bargain bin purchase. Avoid at all costs.
(+) Good campaign
(-) Poor controls, stiff animations
(-) Terrible AI
(-) Below average presentation
(-) Short campaign, and that's all there is
Title: Pure Football
Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Vancouver/Ubisoft
Age Rating: 3
Platforms: PS3 (Rs 1,999), Xbox 360 (Rs 1,999)
Reviewed on: Xbox 360