There's always a scandal in the papers about video games being addictive. Usually, it's some triple-A console release that bears the brunt of the ire.
Tabloids should really be looking at smartphone gaming if they want to find the worst offenders when it comes to compulsive replayability, though, and New Star Soccer would be a very good place to start their investigations.
A game of two halves
At first glance, the game looks like a cross between Angry Birds and Flick Soccer!, with the Arcade mode handing you a series of increasingly difficult shots from which to try and score. From a top-down view, you drag back on the ball to determine the right angle and add power to your kick.
Once you let go, you're taken to another screen that shows a bouncing, rolling, or stationary ball. You have to tap it in the right place to get the power, swerve, and lift you need to make sure it ends up in the back of the net.
The core of the game, however, lies in the monstrous, life-sapping Career mode. Here, you take what you've learned, and use it to lead a footballer from the lowest league in the land all the way to the heights of the Premier League and the World Cup.
Pass... and don't move
Matches are played out via scrolling reams of text. When the ball comes to you, the game switches to the top-down view, letting you thread through balls, smash the footy towards goal, or try to nip in and intercept a wayward pass.
It's not just about how well you play, though, for there's training to be done and relationships to build with fans, players, and the manager. You need to enjoy the lavish lifestyle of a footballer, too, spending your wages on fancy suits, big houses, and eventually a glamour model girlfriend.
This brilliant mixture of staccato football action, stat management, and relationship- and skill-building mini-games is enough to suck anyone in for hours at a time. The fact that the in-game tabloids will describe you as a "style moron" if you don't scrub up well enough is just icing on the horribly morish cake.iPhone version reviewed.