Two things about Awesome Soccer instantly appealed to me - firstly it's a fully-featured soccer game that only uses one fire button (a real novelty these days but a feature that makes it instantly accessible and reminiscent of so many 8 and 16-bit classics), and playing it put me in mind of Kick Off straight away. That's not to say that this is a Kick Off clone, but much of what made that such a great game is present here.
In terms of presentation and features, Awesome Soccer rather reminded me of the earlier FIFA games. There are quite a few different league and cup competitions to choose from, or you can create your own - simple and quick to do. While not all team names are quite right and player choices can be a little odd (i.e "Mersey Reds" for Liverpool including Mark Gonzales on the right wing), there is a team editor program included to change all that if you want. All the normal tweaks you'd want such as match length and difficulty level are there - some things missing at the moment such as referee temperament and playing surface are absent, but I didn't miss them that much.
Of course the key thing to this game is the match engine itself, and it's a lot of fun. Though this reverts to the old "magnetic ball" (or should that be "magnetic feet"?!?) technique, the game is pretty fast (speed is adjustable) and fluid, and the style of gameplay is rather reminiscent of the hectic atmosphere of Kick Off. The controls feel very similar too. The computer AI isn't too realistic but still offers a challenge at high difficulty levels. There are some nice touches such as reasons given for bookings or red cards and some good goal celebrations (though Peter Crouch fans may be saddened by the lack of a "robot" celebration!). It all plays very nicely, personally I found the ball stuck to the pitch a little too much - it didn't roll on enough - which can break up the play a little bit, but mostly its uninterrupted action and a lot of fun.
Aftertouch is very important in Awesome Soccer, and the way it's implemented allows for you to bend the ball both ways if you're quick enough. The aftertouch is perhaps not even completely necessary to win matches, but it adds an extra dimension to gameplay and certainly takes a lot of skill to master.
Graphically the game's quite good - diving headers in particular look great (though collision detection can be slightly iffy, it errs in favour of the player so it's not actually frustrating when it happens in the game). The music is good and there are appropriate in-game sound effects. All in all a solid aesthetic package, nothing spectacular but it all suits the game very well.
To keep the players' interest even after maybe winning the world cup and guiding Liverpool to a league and European Cup double (oh if only real life was like this...), there are 33 "golden balls" to be attained. You get these for match or tournament achievements, and while getting the first 15 or so doesn't really take long, getting all of them is quite a challenge. In particular the "win on penalties" trophy may well be something I never manage to win!
Replays, celebratory photos and match highlights finish off the features list. Overall Awesome Soccer is a simple but very enjoyable game - maybe it could have a few more features but the vital fun factor is definitely there and the game's charm mainly lies in its complete accessibility right from the first time you play it. Don't be fooled though - while it's simple to play, mastering it completely is going to take you quite some time. For the quality of game and length of gameplay you can expect from it, the price of $14.95 is very reasonable - and at the moment it's on special offer at $9.95, even better.
Want to buy it? Visit this link: Awesome Soccer by Red27 Studios
CaptainD - PC Gaming Blog