In the world of iOS and Android football games, FIFA 13 is like today's English Premier League - an expensive assembly of glitzy components that impress and dazzle, but which some find to be unpalatably shallow.

If that's the case, then Active Soccer is like the old English First Division of the 1970s - a potent mixture of honest scrapping and instinctive skill, with the faint whiff of amateurism holding it all together.

Old-fashioned winger

While the likes of FIFA and Real Football are approximations of the modern console footy experience, the maker of Active Soccer strives to emulate the football sims of the Amiga era.

Yes, we're talking about Sensible Soccer and Kick Off here. The result is a fast-paced top-down game that requires genuine skill and patience to master.

In Normal and Hard modes, control of the football is precarious to say the least. The ball doesn't stick to your players' feet as it does in modern footy games. And if you want to dribble the ball, you'll need to assume control of a technically accomplished player and possess a delicate touch with a virtual joystick.

Naturally, that in itself poses a bit of a problem, for even the best virtual controls are a poor facsimile of physical ones. But the on-screen joystick here is pleasantly responsive and reasonably reliable. There's iCade support, too, but that won't be utilised by the vast majority of gamers.

Kick and hope

Otherwise, you have two buttons with which to play. 'B' is for passing, while the 'A' button results in a hefty thwack of the ball (whether that's out of defence for your striker to chase or towards the top corner of the goal).

Shooting is a real art here. Unlike in FIFA, there's no AI assistance in Active Soccer, so you'll have to be facing in the general direction of the goal and have full mastery of the virtual joystick in order to apply the appropriate amount of curve.

Defending is also handled by the aforementioned two buttons. The seemingly (and annoyingly) random nature of the yellow and red card system should preclude too many desperate lunges, though.

In terms of the game's structure and presentation, Active Soccer's creator has, unsurprisingly, turned to the old skool again - albeit with slightly less success than it found with the nostalgic gameplay.

The ugly side of the game

The graphics are 3D, but an incredibly basic, blocky brand of 3D. This is particularly exposed when the view is zoomed in on the goal replays. The animation, too, is extremely clunky, with players often levitating back to the centre circle for kick-off.

As you might expect from such a small-scale game, official licences are conspicuous by their absence. All of the major international teams are represented by subtly altered players, so there's the imperious Spanish midfielder Xavu, or the England forward Wayni Roaney.

Championship mode is a generic World Cup-like competition with the usual mix of table and knockout formats.

There's also an online multiplayer mode, though gaining access to it is convoluted, and there were no games being played at the time of writing.

Arguably, though, none of these shortcomings matter. If you're fed up of the heavily automated, somewhat soulless nature of EA's slick iOS and Android FIFA games, Active Soccer is the kind of back-to-basics kickaround that could well re-ignite your love of The Beautiful Game on the platform.