PS3 Review – Pure Football

In past and current console generations, the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer franchises have dominated the football genre. Finally, in steps a new developer who plans to step up to the field (pun intended) with a brand new football title entitled, Pure Football (Pure Futbol in America). However, this is not your normal 11-a-side title, rather Ubisoft’s take on EA’s FIFA Street. With the World Cup only a few weeks away, Ubisoft have jumped on the tournament arrival by capitalizing on this with releasing an international team-oriented football title.

The game, which was developed by Ubisoft Vancouver, is reminiscent of free-styling football title FIFA Street, more specifically FIFA Street 2. Pure Football includes 230 elite footballers, 17 international teams, and 17 legendary players. Players, interestingly, will have the opportunity to create their own customized athletes who can progress through the campaign mode to ultimately test themselves against the world’s best players in the final tournament.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is the cover man for the game which may entice a few more potential buyers for the title. Additionally, what also adds to the overall value of Pure Football is the eye-popping classy opening cut-scene. Following a match which was decided on a controversial refereeing decision, the losing side of the team decides to go all out with the winning side by challenging them to a 5-a-side match without a referee.

This is, as you can tell already, not your ordinary traditional 11-a-side football game. Pure Football doesn’t give you any domestic teams who are playable, instead it offers 17 international team-based squads. All containing an accumulative of 230 playable players. All of the players are lifelike with spot-on features such as strength and skills, and frankly, it’s a charm to play with anyone in this game because it’s just great fun to play once you know what you’re doing.

The campaign mode kicks off with a custom made nation according to a players preferences and then your ‘goal’ is to make them qualify for the World Cup. You’ll have the chance to create your own captain within your team as well as picking a personalized kit with a logo. Your team starts right at the bottom and you must work your way to the top by winning events. As you win you’ll be promoted up one place in the rankings, while losing will do the opposite. Within each event there’ll be different ways to accomplish the objective, and these range from winning a timed match to winning by a certain amount of goals before your opponent does. For every instance you choose a challenge, you can acquire certain players by completing the criteria needed to meet. These objectives include not conceding a penalty or scoring from a cross. The players will then be unlocked for you to include in your team, thus giving you a better chance to progress throughout the tournament.

This is where the gameplay aspects come into full motion. The core gameplay revolves around a, as mentioned, 5-a-side system and it’s all pretty neat. You’re able to do all the traditional football moves such as passing, crossing and through balls. However, the way the game handles these simple moves is where the ‘Pure’ title lives up to its name. Whenever executing a well-timed shot or a completed pass an on-screen meter will start to fill its self up. There are 3 sections to this feature – green, white and red. The green section represents a normal action made such as a successful pass while the white section represents a ‘Pure’ action. Stopping the market within this meter at the white section will give players a better scoring chance. However, if the meter goes red via a bad action such as a mistimed tackle then your shots won’t be on target as much and your cross will not most likely make it to a team mate. Performing successful moves such as skills and tackles will fill up a Pure Points meter. When it fills up then your next shot will be a ‘Pure Shot’, despite how much power you actually put into it. The in-game features such as the meters distinguishes Pure Football from any other football title, and it’s undoubtedly these standout features which will appeal to potential players of this game.

There’s corners as well as throw ins which has a timer limit of 5 seconds. Also, there are no free kicks in the game – only penalties will be given. Once you commit to a foul then a foul meter will get filled up. Once the meter reaches its peak a penalty will be awarded to your opponents. Although, players will have the chance to redeem themselves by executing well-timed tackles to deplete the meter. There are two types of tacking, sliding tackles and safe tackling. The safe tackling is frustrating at times as it’s nothing short of difficult to time tackles. The slide tackle mechanic may also be irritating as mistiming a tackled  leads to penalties – and it’ll happen a lot.

There are a worrying amount of downsides to Pure Football which may detract from the overall experience of the game. The actions aren’t particularly responsive at times. AI players sometimes don’t move into useful positions which makes the passing functionality frustrating. Also, the through ball isn’t that special either as you can’t get it to your player that easily unless he’s in a perfect position, so most of the time the through balls are intercepted. Tackling may get on your nerves on several occasions as well due to features such as side-stepping not guaranteeing a player to win the ball. Also, the pressure button allows you to shadow an opponent, however, it’s not possible to sprint while doing this.

Pure Football is all about the player adapting to its style, and when you start to do this then you’ll experience a good game. In saying that, there’s not much inspiration within this game for casual players as the core gameplay mechanics can be quite annoying which can lead to conceding goals countless times. There is also a lack of any sort of manager mode due to formations, tactics and more strategic options can only be made before the game starts. However, any sort of consolation for this could be that players instead will be able to change their teams formation and aggressiveness level via short cuts.

The great thing about Pure Football, is that, like with most sports games, there’s plenty of replayability. The Pure Points feature really compels you to take on the major challenges in order to unlock the better players. And it won’t get tedious any time soon with 29 challenges to complete with all sets of players including the attacking, midfield and even defending types.

Visually, Pure Football is nothing spectacular or breathtaking but it’s fairly well done. Each of the 200+ players look like their real-life counterparts and the attention to detail is clearly evident. Each stadium has its own unique attributes and are all well detailed. The cut-scenes and menu are well done and is easy to navigate. The effects when shooting a ball with your Pure Points also complement the in-game visuals with its colorful almost confetti-like style.

The same cannot be said about the audio which is horrible. You have players shouting comments from time to time, and extraordinarily, there’s no soundtrack or any type of audio to accompany the gameplay which is a real let down because there’s absolutely no atmosphere – all you can hear most of the time is the ball brushing past the turf, and it’s very dull just to hear that all the time.

After you’ve completed the career mode, then you’ll be intrigued by the online multiplayer component Ubisoft have integrated in this title. Once you jump in to the online multiplayer mode, players will have to re-create a team as well as a secret legend (out of the 17 included within the game) which they acquired in the career mode. There’s plenty of potential for the online mode in Pure Football with its own league system and an interesting amount of unlocks, but the amount of lag certainly detracts from the main positive attributes in the online mode – reason being is that timing is crucial during gameplay and it gets interrupted with any amount of lag issues. In addition to the online component, up to four people can play locally.

Ubisoft’s take on the sports genre with Pure Football isn’t a failure to a certain extent. They’ve created a moderately decent 5-a-side football title but ultimately its flaws bring the game down and leave the player with very little to praise. It will take some getting used to for players to adjust to the game with its rugged control system and various poor gameplay mechanics. Some may feel the game was a quick cash in opportunity and it capitalized on the upcoming World Cup tournament, with others feeling that Pure Football is essentially a weakened version of FIFA Street 3, but others may enjoy the fresh, however, unfortunately forgettable experience from the traditional football games.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Core gameplay mechanics are flawed

Amount of problems detract from overall experience

Decent graphics as well as a strong factor of replayability

5 out of 10