Football games have always been big sellers on consoles, and anyone trying to muscle in on the act has a tough challenge. Let’s face it, for every good soccer game, there are ten wannabes. Urban Freestyle Soccer tries something a little different, but not much, and takes the game off the pitch and into the street. Remember the Nike adverts in the cage/boat, with some great footballers doing some very cool tricks, all presided over by Eric Cantona? That was obviously the inspiration for this game, but the similarity stops there.
The thing about this game is the concept of ‘street’. Think about lots of degenerate teenagers and drop-outs tagging everything, and spurting out their illiterate ramblings about what they consider to be boom or phat. That is basically the feel of the game. The opening video sequence shows some dope street crew, talking a slow stroll through some urban hell-hole, giving it the stereotypical macho small-brained attitude that you (or the marketing team) expect. This continues further into the game, as when you select a team, they give you the names of the players. The girl’s team (Hardcore Honeys) reads like something out of a porn film and it gets very tedious. It’s not clean, snappy or original. Some of the other teams are Taggin Crew, Street Ballers and BMX Crew, something that’s irritating enough when reading this graffiti on a wall, let alone on your console.
Presentation aside you play 4 on 4, and it’s a basic run, pass and shoot type of game. That’s about it. There are different places to play, most of them look like the sort of places you’d not walk at night. In spite of the backgrounds, the gameplay isn’t too bad. The ball sticks to your foot pretty much all the time until tackled, and as in all these games, the opponents always seem to be either really good or really stupid. The ‘fun’ bit is the Supercharged Netbuster, which is basically like NBA’s ‘he’s on fire!’, but without the style. You can also perform a number of tricks and use the environment to your advantage - you can flip and block quite well which makes it better that the constant penalizing for breaking the FA rules on mainstream football games.
I think NBA is a good juxtaposition - it is everything that UFS is not - it’s cool, slick and a game you want to play. You don’t want to play gang-style soccer, and not in such a boring fashion as this game presents. Ok, it might appeal to some of the stereotypes presented within, but I think the novelty will soon wear off, as they go back to Pro Evolution; it’s not going to make a dent in the competition, it just doesn’t have the mettle. It stinks of little thought and an attempted exploitation of our kids with hopes of better sales in other markets where football/soccer isn’t the national sport. If you want to play this sort of game, go outside and do it for real, and leave UFS on the shelf.