Game Reviews

Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro

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Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro

One day, after tricking his way past an entire team's worth of players, Lionel Messi will - for the 700th time - score the goal of his life, before ripping off his #10 shirt and revealing a big 'S' emblazoned across his freshly waxed chest.

Whatever you might think of the ten men that play alongside him (and, all I'll say on the matter is, they sure seem to spend a lot of time kissing the turf), there's no denying that Messi brings a superhero quality to football.

Capturing Messi's marvel is what Gamevil's Soccer Superstars franchise, here in its second guise, has at its heart. Sadly, it simply proves that all the 'special' moves in the world don't necessarily result in an equally special experience.

Sensible shocker

Sporting an arcade take on the beautiful game, most of Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro's matches take on the form of Sensible Soccer-style encounters: the ball pinging back and forth as you attempt to find some space to take a shot at goal.

In fact, that's often all that's required. Rather than offering up any level of sophistication, winning in Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro is a simple case of ball retention, with the ultimate aim being to gain enough freedom in the box to have a crack at beating the keeper.

What's more, if you manage to put enough power behind it, chances are it'll beat him, too.

It's an approach that's no doubt designed to deliver the spectacular, but in reality it makes the addition of the game's signature special moves somewhat surplus to requirements.

Not so special moves

Said marquee moves, which can be activated to either pass opposing players or, when in sight of goal, thwack the ball beyond the keeper, jibe with Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro's styling.

Complete with scores of incomprehensible dialogue, manga-style visuals, and a garish soundtrack, Gamevil's soccer sim is anything but timid.

In typical arcade style, the game's line-up of teams is entirely fictional, though it is possible to play through league and cup competitions as you might in FIFA or PES.

However, it's after attempting to play Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro for any length of time that the game's frailties begin to show.

Though its focus on supercharged special moves (which include the likes of teleportation, no less) is intended to differentiate play from the rest of the pack, it's the game's utterly helpless take on the actual matches that really makes it stand out.

Just as in the original release, Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro has trouble responding to your input. A delayed shot, for instance, can have a major impact, given it occupies the same virtual button as 'tackle' when out of possession.

As a result, by the time Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro has read your intention to have a shot, you may already have lost the ball, with your player performing a rash tackle instead.

Keeper calamity

The game's A.I. is also a touch hapless. Your defense will often part like the Red Sea as the opposition steams towards your goal, with your goalie also making a habit of leaving his post at the wrong time and shipping a flurry of goals in the process.

Such faults are less of a problem in 'My League' mode, if only because the amount of time you enjoy on the pitch is severely reduced.

Here, your task is to take charge of one player as he attempts to find prominence within his club. Instead of letting you play whole matches, though, Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro simulates each game (in default mode), only allowing you to get involved when your player is presented with a chance on goal.

This means you'll be dropped randomly into play with only seconds to fathom where you are on the pitch, the position of your teammates, and the best route to goal. Fail to score three or four times in a row, and you'll quickly find yourself substituted and unfairly blasted by the manager for your dour performance.

It's just one of many areas where Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro feels unfinished, verging on broken.

What's most frustrating about the whole affair is that a large portion of these footie fumbles actually made an appearance in its predecessor. Rather than fix them, however, Gamevil's latest actually adds to them, resulting in a soccer sim that's stunted and stuttering rather than superhero.

Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro

Sloppy and slack, Soccer Superstars 2011 Pro shows much promise, but – like its predecessor – puts far too much focus on special moves and has spent far too little time tightening up the matches themselves