FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have dominated the video game football market with EA and Konami going head-to-head each year to take the footballing crown. Since the Xbox 360’s launch back in 2005, the competition has been a simple two-horse race with a lack of true contenders. With the World Cup approaching, Ubisoft have released Pure Football, their attempt at rivalling the top two. However, it may have been better if the title had never left the changing room.
Pure Football is a 5-a-side arcade football game that contains a number of differences from the typical football experience gamers are used to. The game uses a series of coloured meters to control the action with passing, shooting, crossing and clearing the balls from crosses, all requiring players to hold the appropriate button enough to reach the appropriate colour on the meter. If the needle reaches yellow – the result will be weak, reaching green is an improved result and for shots and crosses there is the addition of a small white bar which, when reached, produces a pure shot/cross.
Pure shots and crosses is where the game’s unique feature comes in. When these are pulled off, the play goes into slow-motion as the shot/cross is hit and the camera switches to a tracking shot of the football as it flies towards its intended target. Whereas the pure shots do guarantee to cause the goalkeeper some trouble, on many occasions the goalkeeper will parry the shots with ease and, at times, even catch it. Whilst this isn’t essentially a problem, it does make the ‘pure’ factor of the feature less satisfying.
Furthermore, pure shots can also be obtained by filling a pure shot meter, done by playing well. For example, taking shots on goal and pulling off a clean tackle. The advantage of filling the pure shot meter over the previous method is that when the meter is full, the next shot on goal is a guaranteed pure shot. Despite the pure shot trait being the game’s main selling-feature, you can’t help but feel this element could have been implemented better, with the feature being overly-incorporated into the game.
Nevertheless, there is another meter featured within the game: the foul meter. This measures and builds up how reckless the challenges on your opponents are - the more reckless the challenge, the further the bar rises. When the bar becomes full, a penalty is awarded to the opposing team. Whilst the idea is a good one, as it allows the fast pace of the game to be kept up, it does mean rash challenges on players through on goal are a common feature.
The game also includes Xbox Live support which can be played against anyone in the suitably named “Play Anyone” or players can go up against their friends in another suitably named game mode “Play A Friend.” There are very few differences between the two game modes, though Play Anyone goes into more depth, providing a rank system; this is based on pure points players earned throughout each match. Points are awarded for the likes of possession, shots on target, tackles and more. Gaining pure points unlocks new content including kit, players and more customisable options for the “Create a Player” mode.
Pure Football, like most football games, contains the option to create and customise a player. The options available include the usual height, weight, skin tones you’d expect though, unfortunately, the amount of options available within each section is quite limited and therefore prevents players from creating an accurate interpretation of their choosing. For example, the height goes up in fours from 165 cm up to 205 cm, excluding heights such as 195 cm. While this may not prove to be an unforgiveable feature, it is yet another limit Pure Football contains.
Rather than the typical season modes and Master Leagues evident in FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer respectively, Pure Football contains a campaign mode. This sees players taking control of a custom-made team, featuring their created player as captain, as they embark on a range of objectives and matches in venues across Europe. There are enough objectives and matches to provide enough variation throughout the approximately six hour campaign mode to keep players entertained all the way through. However, it does have its flaws. On completion of a campaign, players are unable to re-access their file. Whilst this doesn't have many consequences, it would have been useful to check the progress players had made during the campaign.
Regrettably, Ubisoft were unable to obtain all the licenses for all the teams featured in the game though, thankfully, managed to obtain the licenses for some of the bigger entities including: England, France and Spain. Whilst it doesn’t essentially take anything away from Pure Football’s gameplay, it still comes as a bit of a disappointment.
Graphically, Pure Football is quite impressive, incorporating the arcade style well, whilst also ensuring the big names are instantly recognisable. Similarly, the game’s venues have been well designed, with each one featuring interactions that, whilst they aren’t instantly noticeable, add to the whole unique arcade football experience. Furthermore, the animations in the opening trailer and campaign’s cut-scenes are also worth a mention, both of which have been brilliantly developed; it’s just a shame both of them are concepts. As for the game’s audio, the lack of a commentary and repetitive sound effects isn’t particularly appealing and a more nourishing feeling is felt when the television is on mute.
Overall, Pure Football is a weak attempt at obtaining the football crown. Whilst it offers a unique experience and some promising ideas and concepts, the over-use of meters, the lack of game modes and the poor implementation of features means the title is one to avoid, even at the reduced prices retailers are offering the game for.