A long time ago, on a system known as the Amiga, a hugely popular football game was released. Due to the fact back then games were only seen as for nerds and geeks, the popularity of course was no where near what games garner today. Sensible Soccer was a game that had such a following that updates were released quite often, something which did not happen that much in the olden days of gaming. It's still seen by many as the most pure form of the sport on a virtual format and it's easy to see why when you play even the latest iteration. Kuju along with Codemasters have decided to bring the giant franchise back and while they are now competing with FIFA and Pro Evolution, they still manage to hold their own extremely well.
The thing that has to be taken into account with Sensible Soccer is that it is a game not designed to replicate the real world football matches such as Brazil vs Italy, it is more a game that takes the mechanics of the sport and tries to recreate them in a virtual format to the most realistic degree possible. What this means is that rather than having a team of highly paid players destroying smaller clubs, you actually have to work rather hard to score in Sensible Soccer, in fact much harder than the competing titles which gives it a sense of purity rather than flash gameplay.
There are a number of game modes in Sensible Soccer to play such as Exhibition and tournament and you can even make your own custom tournaments and teams. The tournament structure replicates that of many of the world's most famous tournaments including the World Cup but of course not being licensed, they are only 'mimics' rather than playing in the actual stadiums. It is here that you unlock more options for the custom modes such as more hairstyles for the players or new boots etc for custom players you may edit or put into the game.
The gameplay itself is fast and furious; in fact chances are this is the fastest football game to hit the market in a while. It's end to end stuff with counterattacks a regular occurrence. It's not a game where you have to play the long ball, but quick passing is integral to winning and you really have to consider what to do next, before the player receives the ball, just like in the real game. Also, the game does not help you all that much with shooting. As is shown by the arrow on the screen which appears when shooting, you have to actually aim for where you want the ball to go. Initially this can lead to balls end up in the wrong postcode in comparison to the goal, and could be frustrating but as you play more you realise this is how the beautiful game should be.
In terms of licensing, Codemasters have again disappointed. There are no official teams except for the International teams but the players are not licensed and neither are Club teams. Expect to see names such as Frank Lampost and Steven Gerry. The game is of course editable and it's pretty obvious who is who but it still remains disappointing that the only other game which has licenses is FIFA. However as we said, Sensi soccer is not all about official teams it's about the best football around and it is here where it impresses.
We can see this game being a huge hit for multiplayer especially over a few alcoholic drinks. It just seems a game that is so pick up and play and full of action that anyone can get into it and this is by far the game's biggest strength. Also, in Australia at least it is retailing for half the normal price of a game so this makes it excellent value for money.
Visually the game is also interesting as well. Kuju has decided rather than go for a realistic look, they will use a cartoon style which works really well. It really seems as if little kids are playing big international games and the referee is the one adult keeping them in line. When this was first announced we thought it was a bit silly, but it's turn out to be one of the game's strengths. It's obvious Kuju wanted to distinguish this game from the others around, and they aren't trying to be the big official game that FIFA etc is. There is also no commentary provided and sound effects are a bit bland, but it doesn't affect the game that much.
Sensible Soccer is a game that surprised us. Kuju has done a fantastic job bringing the classic game series back for a new generation while keeping it fun and one of the most pick up and play football games around. If you go in expecting FIFA you will be disappointed, but for a quick kick around at high pace, it's the best choice around.