Tactical Soccer: The New Season is a fresh idea that comes to your computer spoiled. Turn-based strategy on a football field; fast-paced sports with the strategy of chess seems like a match made in heaven. As a casual fan, I was excited about really breaking down maneuvers and formulating my own style of attack. Sadly, everything about the experience doesn’t work, including its selling point. It’s hard to strategize anything when you have no precision, and when fundamental actions like tackles are randomized coin flips. The most fun I had was envisioning all of the opportunities this game missed, instead of playing a game that felt like I was watching a football game with severe lag.
WHAT WE LIKED
º Blending RTS with a sport is a fantastic idea.
º Once you get used to the controls, they become second nature.
º I loved making stupid names for my players, and especially my team.
WHAT WE DISLIKED
º Tactics take a backseat to luck and uncertainty due to the undefined paths.
º The game lacks polish in every category, including graphics, audio, and gameplay.
º Computer opponents are doormats- you’ll have no problem walking over them.
I love turn-based strategy games, so the prospect of a tactical soccer game sounded amazing to me. A strategic football game where you control every player in momentary increments. The game’s premise is pretty easy to grasp, especially if you’re a football fan, but being American I only know enough to play a few rounds of FIFA with friends. My strategy usually falls to taking the shot when I get it. I was looking forward to expanding my views, and learning a little something from Tactical Soccer: The New Season.
Unfortunately, the game is filled with so much promise but delivers on so very little. Starting out the game, you’ll notice how barebones everything is. The game features less clipart than a Sunday school flyer and does very little to wow you as you walk in. There’s only three game modes; an exhibition mode, an arbitrary knockout cup, and a league mode. Outside of the nine colored uniforms and a ‘fill in a blank’ naming system for your team, there’s not much in terms of identity. I get that you can’t use any licensed brands, but some creative teams would’ve been a much-appreciated addition.
In career mode, you’ll be able to trade and extended out contracts, so if you’re into those kinds of simulators, you may get a kick out it- me, I’d rather be trading fake stocks in Wall Street Kid. Once you get through your first few games, there’s not much to keep you engaged in this aspect of the game. I did like how you could change players names, mostly because my child-like mind thinks up the dumbest ones I can.
Gameplay has so much potential, but falls short is almost every way. You move every player individually, the one with the ball getting to pass or shoot before they run. You’re given the ability to bend the routes of both the players and the ball, leading to dynamic strikes and slant routes. While this sounds fine, the lines shown are not what you’ll get. There’s no way to tell where your player will end given every five seconds, and how far the ball will actually roll. Because of this, you have to pass to where your character ‘might’ be, and this uncertainty breaks the confidence needed for fast breaks when you end up with the ball on your heels. The game’s tactics are now starting to look more like a crap shoot.
In the mid-field, you’ll constantly be battling for the ball, and moving your 11 players every five seconds can become a very daunting task. Eventually, you’ll get bored, and start moving only key players, which sadly leaves you open to dangerous counter-attacks. Because you have no way of dribbling or avoiding defenders, tackling is handled by pure luck as well. So, unlike FIFA, the game loses some of its skill-based pride, and once again comes down to luck. Worst of all, if someone gets a lucky break, your player could be left standing there for five seconds, watching stars spin over their head. This can get especially problematic, given players can easily get piled up, resulting in a group of athletes looking like an after-school hangout.
One of the biggest problems I had as well was with the camera. The developers have given players a wide range of options, such as following the ball, a wide shot of the stadium, or from behind the back of any given fielder. This is awesome and provides a great way of looking at long through paths, strategizing your attacks, and keeping up with the passes. It would be a shining spot in this review if it weren’t for the fact that the camera gets caught up on other players, the goal posts, and pretty much gets jacked up constantly- forcing complete restarts.
Some of the other major problems are just how broken the whole experience feels in terms of breaking established rules. You can crowd the goalie with five guys, and as long as you stay in front of him, any shots you can get off are fair game. This might’ve been better if the goalie could palm the ball. I got away with tons of offsides passes, but then again, I can’t really tell when I am since each side moves individually. Or, if you’re in the lead, you can just hold onto the ball, and watch the timer click down. Sure, I could ignore these problems, and not exploit the game’s weaknesses- but once I know they’re there, how could I not?
And finally, my biggest complaint- the other teams are pushovers. Honestly, every game, with most of the later ones barely keeping my attention, I was able to shutout the other teams. Even on higher difficulties and without exploits, your opponents have no strategy, opting to rush the center nearly every time. You’ll barely see any routes or attempts at fast breaks- just the other team mindlessly running a B-line as fast as they can towards the goal.
Sound effects were worked on by one person, and it shows. The crowd drones on, screaming throughout. There is no changes in mood, or periods of quiet while you spend a minute laying out the next five seconds- just constant noise.
Graphics are passable, and look better after you turn them onto the highest settings (which adds in shadows, something missing from my images). EA, of course, has the budget to make their models look amazing, and, of course, we’re not going to get that here- but even the field lacks polish. Everything just looks phoned in, especially their menu system. They thank the Unity Asset store in the credits, and it shows in the boring and unrealistic presentation.
I wanted to like this game, I really did- but there’s nothing here to sink my teeth into. It’s a barren wasteland of what could’ve been a great idea. The game was designed by two guys, and to them I would say they need to invest more time in this idea. It has the potential, but they need to implement some inspiration from games like X-Com. Put a stamina bar in there so players can rush- add in special abilities such as dribbling or passing after a run. It would add an additional level of strategy while team building. It’s already a little goofy- you might as well take it to full-on NBA Jam levels of hokey, and bank on what you really should’ve focused on- the strategy.