If you’ve been reading this website for a while, you’ll probably be aware of my love of football games, and if you’re not, well, I love football games. I always have, and I probably always will. Recently, I’ve only really been playing the ‘big’ football games, like FIFA, Pro Evolution and Football Manager, but I am continually asked to check out less serious games by Steam, so when I saw Soccer Rage, I caved and figured I’d give it a try.
I’ll start off by saying that Soccer Rage is in early access, so it is still fairly rough, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless. Admittedly, having a football game without a referee isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, there have been countless games like it in the past, but where this one differs is that it mixes in the beat ’em up genre to create perhaps the oddest hybrid of games I’ve played in a very long time.
I don’t normally make the focus of a review the graphics of the game, as depending on budgets, they can really vary for indie developers, but for Soccer Rage, I’ll make an exception. The game is presented beautifully, with some really fantastic visuals to go with the barbaric version of football being played. Players are put into futuristic cyborg-looking suits of armour to play the game in and the various arenas in which the matches are played all look incredible. It doesn’t end there though, the beat ’em up section of the game is brilliant – potentially rivaling Tekken or Mortal Kombat in how good the characters look as they throw punches towards eachother.
Kind of sticking to the same point, but slightly different is the animation of the game. Considering they decided to put two different genres together, they had to animate a lot of different actions, both on the football side and on the beat ’em up side. The football side has a lot of different moves that make it look more realistic, but the amount of effort that went into the beat ’em up part of the game is phenomenal. I was just expecting punching and kicking to be animated as that wouldn’t be too dissimilar from their game, but they even squeezed in a few combo moves and throws which really looked fluid and fantastic.
The game plays relatively well as well, considering it’s a mash up of two very different genres. Both the beat ’em up and the actual football playing both work quite well on the whole, functioning mostly as you would expect, although not entirely, which is one of the things that irked me slightly. Once you’re attacking, everything is fine, except for the fact that I never learned how to give my shots any height, it’s just defending that isn’t quite as good. Firstly, the switching of the players doesn’t really work very well. When I hit the button to change a player, I would expect it to change the currently controlled player, and hopefully move it to a player that is closer to the ball. Occasionally, this does happen, but it seems to be more luck than anything else, with most times you hit the button you’ll just be getting frustrated at how it isn’t working correctly. The other issue I found that isn’t really an issue per sé, it’s just a lack of communication from the developers – the goalkeepers are player controlled. This is a great idea IF the player is made aware of it before the opponents score all their goals, but the lack of this information prior to the game starting made it impossible to actually know, leading me to concede a lot of goals.
Then, there are the loading screens. I thought Fallout 4 had excessive loading screens, but they were at least somewhat avoidable as long as you didn’t fast travel everywhere. Soccer Rage uses them so frequently, it makes it seem like Stamina-Games, the developer, think the mark of a great video game is the amount of loading screens it has. There are loading screens everywhere. Score a goal? Loading screen. Select a team? Loading screen. Opening the options menu? You better believe that’s got a loading screen too. They have them everywhere, and most of the time, they’re only on screen for a second and a half, which makes their presence all the more baffling and irritating, particularly as traversing the menu system is sluggish at best, making just checking the controls a tiresome task.
Do I like the game? Well, kind of. It’s definitely unique, and the beat ’em up aspect is surprisingly fun. The animations for it are amazing, especially when you’re throwing your opponent to the ground and then stomping on them. Purely in terms of gameplay, the game is pretty enjoyable, things mostly work as you’d expect them to, but it is unpolished. There are definitely a few bugs and quirks that need to be ironed out, some additional helpful messages would go a long way to making the game a bit more palatable as well. As I said at the top, it is still in early access, and it definitely needs to be worked on to make it worthwhile, but if the developers put as much effort into the rest of the game that they did in animation and graphics, the game will be a lot of fun when it’s complete.