Billed as "Soccer of the Gods" and a "3D tactical-action fantasy soccer game", Striker Arena is in reality a weird mash-up of game styles that never really gel.
The problem is it tries too hard, flinging ideas into the mix with merry abandon, when a stripped-back approach would have been better.
In part, it's a turn-based game of tactics. You tap to move (up to a maximum of three steps) and pass with a swipe. Team mates are automatically repositioned with a button press.Soc-ARGH
If the opposition has the ball, it's all about carefully timing interceptions and tackles using the aforementioned button, which helpfully changes colour at the most opportune moment.
Additionally, you can use power-ups collected with the ball to unleash timely violence and regain possession.
At a glance, Striker Arena has a lot going for it. The game looks and sounds great, and is full of character.
Cute cube-like critters toddle about, and the arenas have plenty of life (or, rather, death) too, occasionally impaling players with bloodied spikes, or having a roaming Yeti tear apart whoever has the ball. The crunchy sound effects and suitably medieval music further add to the atmosphere.Four-four-boo
But this counts for little when the matches feel so awkward. The imposed restrictions make Striker Arena more akin to a hamstrung netball than football - assuming netball was a bit more fighty and bloody than it typically is.
Worse, repositioning players proves inelegant and unintelligent, rarely leading to sweeping counter-attacks and amazing defensive play. More often, your team's happy to leave your goal entirely open.
The lack of precision control (which extends to suspicious conversion of swipes to on-screen passes) too often smothers enjoyment.
The one-player mode disappoints as well. Instead of a league or cup, you get a story, which is in fact a slog through the minutiae of the game's mechanics.
You fulfil specific goals (tackle three times to win, even if you lose 10-nil!), which admittedly teaches you the ins and outs of the game, but you can only put your skills into practice in a 'quick match', not a proper campaign.