New Star Soccer Disappoints

The first sign of quality for a soccer game lies not with the graphics, but the controls. If player movement mimics the fluid, hard-to-compute motion of real athletes, that is evidence game designers took their time creating the game. Downloadable trial game New Star Soccer reminds me of sports titles on the original NES: the basic strategy is there, but gameplay is stuck in a two-dimensional world.

New Star did its homework on the world of soccer. Leagues from around the globe are included along with powerhouse and minor teams from the U.S. For trademark reasons, there are minor changes in player and team names. Major League Soccer’s D.C. United is represented as D.C. United. Colors, cities and players are faithful to real-world counterparts. Prolific scorer Luciano Emilio scored two of my goals in a game against Crystal Palace.

Settings and customization are indeed impressive. For a simple game, New Star Soccer allows players to have teams focused on speed, control, set plays, power or flair. If more of one attribute is emphasized, corresponding attributes are lessened by equal degree. The key to successful play is a meaningful balance between the most important attributes: control, power and dribbling ability.

Poor gameplay is the Achilles heel of New Star Soccer. Players are either controlled by the AI (artificial intelligence) or at least guided by it. We get only the crudest ability to change direction, pass and shoot. In this day and age, there is no reason for sloppy and archaic controls in sports games. There is simply too much competition between freeware, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft for games of this quality to succeed. There must be half-dozen or more ’90s era games that stand head-and-shoulders above New Star in terms of both graphics and replayability.

If the designers spent just half the time on player movement as they had copying data from soccer leagues in a hundred different countries, we might have a real game on our hands. Sadly, creativity and innovation are not hallmarks of most sports titles. The trend has long been in copying major leagues as closely as possible, without regard for the desires of the fans or gaming enthusiasts. The trial version of New Star Soccer lasts one hour, more than enough time to realize the game is worth much less than 60 minutes of your day. Due to its poor gameplay and subpar graphics, New Star merits just two stars of five.