Game Reviews

Soccer Rally 2

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| Soccer Rally 2
Soccer Rally 2
| Soccer Rally 2

Playing football with cars. It might sound like another "hilarious" sketch from the Top Gear archives, but it also happens to make for a surprisingly entertaining mobile game.

Soccer Rally 2 has you ramming a ball into a goal, but with an entirely different sort of boot.

It's as knockabout and frivolous as it sounds, but there's a bit more to the game than its daft premise would suggest.

Goa: the sunny home of car football. Possibly

The first thing that strikes you about Soccer Rally 2 is how good it all looks. The concept of car football might have you expecting a simple 2D cartoony experience, but as usual you couldn't be more wrong.

There's a polished 3D engine here that wouldn't be out of place in a high-end mobile racer, or in a well-made indie console game.

The surprises continue when you get behind the wheel of the game itself. There's a full and challenging tournament structure to play through, tied in with a multiple tiers of cars. The higher the vehicle's performance, the faster and tougher the matches, and the bigger the rewards.

Besides this tournament mode, you also get to enter the Academy. This throws up a series of tests ranging from straight up point-to-point dashes to defensive drills and shooting practice.

All are fun to perfect, but their true purpose is to get you into fighting shape for the tournament mode proper.

Red and blue balls? I'd see a doctor

And you'll need the practice. As you might expect, getting a ball into a net using a vehicle is not easy, and the game makes no concessions for the concept.

There's a simple but realistic physics system at play here, which means that your car and ball respond as you'd expect. Cars have large turning circles, while their momentum ensures that stopping and setting off in the opposite direction takes agonising seconds.

The ball, meanwhile, is its own entity, subject to bizarre deflections and the effects of spin. You can work this to your advantage with chip shots and little corner-nudges, but you'll just as often miss an open goal by being too enthusiastic with the throttle.

Playing Soccer Rally 2 is a real skill, and that gives the main tournament mode legs.

The beach ball behaves quite differently to the football

There's also a same-handset multiplayer mode that provides an effectively competitive experience. It even works on the iPhone, though you probably need to be quite comfortable with the person sitting opposite.

The main issue I had with Soccer Rally 2 was its free-to-play structure. While I was thankful for the ability to play through its various rounds without any silly cooldown timers or arbitrary payments, I was frustrated at the high cost of new cars.

It takes a lot of plugging away through tournaments to earn enough money for a superior machine, and you'll struggle to really excel (or at least, I did) without upgrading your current car. Which, of course, takes up some of the funds you've been saving for that new car.

It's also galling having to purchase boosts - a fundamental tactic for intervening at key points. True, you purchase these with golden balls that can be earned in play as well as purchased outright. But such a core system shouldn't be restricted in this way.

Soccer Rally 2 would have been an unquestionable recommendation if it was a straight-up premium purchase, or with a slightly less stifling free-to-play setup. As it is, it's a highly entertaining, conceptually fresh, and extremely polished arcade experience with a single structural fly in the ointment.

Soccer Rally 2

A surprisingly involved and polished arcade experience that's as deft as it is daft
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.