With football fever hitting its highest degree with the World Cup just around the corner, Ubisoft has offered it’s first ever input in the football game arena with Pure Football. Pure Football is a five-a-side game – with some twists, with a host of famous faces gracing the field. This is a brave entry by Ubisoft in a field where FIFA and PES rule the roost, and working away from the constraints of FIFA.
Pure Football set’s itself aside from the likes of FIFA and PES by relying on the fast paced nature of five-a-side football, with most of the games emphasis going into the shooting system, and what is the most successful way to score. You can change your tactics real-time by using the d-pad directions, but being perfectly honest this does not really alter the game much, and is very unlikely to affect the matches in anyway. As expected each players stats are different and each player has its best areas of play.
With the main emphasis going into the shooting each player is capable of scoring goals. With it being five-a-side you can shoot from nearly anywhere on the pitch, but the closer the more likely the outcome will result in a goal. As you got to take a shot a power bar will appear underneath your player, this is very similar the power bars you see on the likes of golf games, using the same idea of enough power, perfect power and too much power. If you stop holding the shoot within the green area of the shooting bar the shot will go on target, and have the chance of scoring. If you stop it in the white area this activates a ‘Power Shot’ which has a higher change of successfully finding the back of the net. If you release it whilst in the red area your shot will automatically be off target. The game also rewards you for registering shots that need to be saved, after you have a number of efforts saved by the goal keeper this fills the ‘Pure Shot’ meter – once this is full your next shot it guaranteed to be a Power Shot. This system Ubisoft is the biggest part of the gameplay on Pure Football, with the rest of the games elements like passing and skill moves being some what underwhelming due to the amount the game is focusing on the shooting, and it does slightly affect the games over all appeal.
Even with this as the case the action in the game is still furious, and could attract some audience. Pure Footballs biggest downfall is the fact the game does lack depth when playing. Although you can score a few goals within seconds of each other, the games enjoyment factor still suffers greatly. This is due to the game all but eliminating the challenge and thrill of pulling of a great or set piece leading up to the goal. The crossing system uses a similar style to the shooting, but makes the player have to time a few button presses to win the ball in the air, if this is successful it is 90% of the time likely to result in a goal. The passing system is one of the most annoying parts of the gameplay with it requiring the player point to the player they want to pass to with the left stick, this is also used for the direction on the player on the ball, and on a small sized pitch this can become tricky at times. When passing the rest of the players are represented by small arrows around your players feet, where this becomes an issue is the arrows can take a few seconds to become active for the player you want to pass to; and online this can become a major irritation. The slide tackle is pretty much forbidden due to the fact it is hard to get right. This is countered with the fact there is no free kicks, but badly timed tackles will start to fill up the Foul meter the game uses, and once this is full the opposition gets a penalty never mind where on the pitch the foul was committed. This does affect the tackling system, but it is still possible to put a foot in and take the ball with a well timed step in tackle.
Pure Football boasts a roster of 230 professionals and 17 football legends, from the nations the game includes. Each player is recognisable from their real-life counterpart, although the game visually seems to use some sort of chiselled communistic look for the player design. This choice of design seems to match the strange approach to football the game uses. Pure Football tries to shake up the idea of mainstream football by removing such football necessities like big stadia, commentary, crowds and even the match officials. Replacing the big stadia are locations that are influenced by their location; with the London pitch being located in a power plant setting, and the Madrid pitch being located in a bull ring setting to give a few examples. The stylized environments work well, but the choice of the environment makes the games audio a huge negative. With the removal of the crowd, referee and commentary, the game has removed what is essentially the sound track to a football game. The only thing you will hear during the match is some music, and the sound of the players on the pitch; which for some reason never mind what team you are the players speak in the same British accent.
The game includes your standard exhibition, quick match and online modes expected, but with the game odd style they introduce a campaign mode. The campaign mode begins with the creation of your own player and team. To start with you are given a standard set of unknown players. The aim is to achieve a position within the top 8 rankings, and earn a place in the final tournament. You are given a set time to achieve a placing in the rankings. During this time each location gives you a set of four challenges set by the opposition; these include a number of objectives to win from the simple win a 5 minute match to target based objectives like take a two goal lead. What keeps the campaign mode entertaining is the fact you unlock players from the nations by competing set objectives during the matches from scoring with 2 different players to passing accuracy. Once these players are unlocked you can transfer these to your squad, and build a squad you think will be best for competing in the events. Completing the matches also rewards you with Pure Points; these points are used between the challenges to upgrade your create-a-player, making him become better along with your team.
Never mind how well a football game is presented, it also needs to get the gameplay right in order to be successful. The first hour of the game will not grip you at all, but if you persevere with the flaws in the gameplay you may find the game can match your thirst for something different in a football game. The initial refusals to take of the grip full eleven side football games have on you may result in you missing out on an experience that can be healed in some cases by giving Pure Football some time. This is certainly an interesting take on a football game, and one that could be a one off chance to sample.
Paul is a freelance journalist and editorial and review contributor at Couch Campus. Paul is an avid console gamer, and when he finds spare time enjoys playing and writing about games. He can be found on Twitter