Saturday, 4 July 2009

PC Game Review - New Star Soccer 4

New Star Soccer 4 charts the career of a footie player, from the earliest days playing in the non-league right through to (hopefully) domestic and international glory. There are so many countries and leagues available that I won’t even bother trying to list them, and you can have the game generate results for all of them – be warned though that this will result in long delays throughout the game. Most people will, I suspect, just stick to one or two leagues, and start playing in their own country’s minor leagues.

Don’t expect instant success – the game is tough, and it takes a long time for your player’s stats to build up significantly. NSS4 is basically split into two parts – player management, where you decide on training and personal matters (with some training mini-games), and the matches themselves. The management part of the game is nicely developed with some interesting options (and a few surprises). The game does include some seedier aspects of football life such as alcohol, gambling and drugs; these can have both positive and negative effects, and if you’re unhappy with the options you can always ignore them. It all adds to a little more interest in the game and a bit more variety. You also manage your finances and lifestyle, which affects other aspects of the game.

One of the key elements of the game is managing your player’s relationships with others; your boss, teammates, supporters, friends, family, girlfriend (if you have one) and media. This can be done by spending time with them or praising them, and by how you deal with various random events in the game, and all effect your overall confidence level. Again, this part of the game is well envisaged and makes the game more interesting.

In the matches themselves you play your role and try to prove the manager right for including you in the starting line-up. If your performances have failed to impress or your energy is too low, you may be left on the bench or even dropped completely from the team. In many ways the balance between realism and playability, which usually goes in favour of realism, is both a positive and negative point for the game. For example, you might come on as a substitute with only a couple of minutes left – you’re hardly likely to have any kind of impact on the game, perhaps not even getting a touch of the ball. Even if you start a match, if your team is getting whopped you can end up feeling very isolated on the pitch. It’s not easy to score (I’ve only managed twice in 2 and a bit seasons, despite playing as an attacking midfielder!), and the ratings you get for your performances sometimes seem a little harsh. Admittedly I was playing at a disadvantage having to use the keyboard controls – the game strongly recommends using a joystick but unfortunately I don’t have one at the moment (at least, not one that will work under Vista). The difficulty keeps you coming back though – you always feel that you could have done better, want to prove the boss wrong if he drops you, want to do well for your team, etc. When you do have a good match or score a goal, it’s really quite rewarding because you’ve had to work for it so far.

The game engine itself is quite good, player graphics and animation look good (albeit the animations seem a touch on the slow side); weather effects are well implemented and genuinely affect the way the ball moves, and the action looks reasonably realistic. After a while you tend to notice the same patterns repeating themselves in the action, particularly the set pieces, but it’s not too distracting. The stadium graphics are a little basic but this doesn’t affect the gameplay so it’s not really an issue. Overall the game looks good and sounds great, with a samba-rhythm in the background when you’re using the menu screens and good sound effects in-match. Te players sometimes do rather baffling things but in general their actions are quite realistic, and the rules are well implemented apart from the offside rule being rather harsh and penalties often being given when the challenge definitely looked like it was just outside the box.

The game seems to have a few stability issues running under 64-bit Vista, I’ve had quite a few crashes. From the game forum I’ve not noticed too many other people complaining of this so I’m assuming the issue is mainly related to Vista and possibly specific to Vista 64-bit.

Overall New Star Soccer 4 is a very complete football career simulation. It’s difficulty level is a little rough, and some people could be put off by this (though probably just as many others appreciate it not being too easy). There can be a fair amount of waiting between matches as the game calculates a myriad scores in other leagues, but other footie management games have the same problem.

I’m going to give NSS4 a rating of 7/10; I think it’s a very good game but many people will probably never get into it enough to appreciate just how good it is. Sometimes it can be more frustrating than enjoyable, but if you enjoy a challenge and like footie games, I’d definitely recommend it to you.

For more info, to download the demo version or buy the full version, visit http://www.newstargames.com/nss4.html

CaptainD - PC Gaming Blog


3 comments:

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it's gonna be amazing!

r4 nintendo ds said...

I am really satisfied with my star soccer. Nice work on your star soccer. Keep up the excellent work.

Online Casinos said...

My gosh! Am I so bad in playing this game! I got myself so frustrated in playing this game, since sports games are hard for me. But I enjoyed losing this game somehow. hahaha! I bet I'm gonna win this time.

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