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Pet Soccer

Score: 50%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Big City Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

The description of lush, colorful graphics, with cartoony representations of some exotic and some generic animals doesn't seem to fit the bill when asked to describe a perfect soccer video game. Nevertheless, it appears that this is what we are subjected to in Pet Soccer, a sports arcade title that attempts to add flavor to a recently popular game genre. As of late, soccer games have attempted to bring more visual realism or acceptable realities to the surface, yet Pet Soccer seems to deny any of these ideas, and reinvents the wheel by featuring some outrageous cartoony characters in the mix of a soccer match.

It is an odd match indeed, as the title suggests. Pitting two species of animals against each other could only come across successfully if the visuals are dead on. To some degree, Pet Soccer misses the bar in this circumstance, and most other circumstances for that matter. While the settings and appearance of the field are cartoony and lively, the characters appear too angular, especially the annoyingly cute Red McCaw parrot narrator that pops up on the side of the screen throughout the game's run.

That annoying parrot attempts to make the title humorous and invigorating, but somehow misses out on the prospect of actually giving commentary important to the match. He often squawks and squabbles about incoherent factors, and needlessly goes on until his comments are ridiculous and insulting.


Gameplay:

At first glance, I assumed Pet Soccer would play very much like the Disney series of sports titles which, geared for younger gamers, sets about playing the real sport in a fantasy like environment. My intuitions were that I would be playing the game with various common household pets such as dogs and cats. Strangely, each of my assumptions were nowhere near what was actually presented in the game. In fact, most of the available 'pets' are not pets at all, ranging from Sharks, to robots, to a deplorably ugly and unrecognizable bird. Also, the essence of soccer seems more abused in Pet Soccer than it should be, and takes away from the title's creativity and intrigue. Pet Soccer features 12 soccer teams, four modes of play (an Unfriendly Match, UFETA Cup, Special Match and Multiplayer), and 18 different fields from various regions throughout the world. Teams, each a different class of animal, contain varying skills and features, and as teams progress, there are definite advantages and disadvantages to each team's position. However, even though teams are ranked on skill levels, a lower-ranked team can easily outdo a team with higher skills seemingly outweighing any of the advantages or disadvantages outright.

Weather conditions change and there are special power-ups that will enable your team to have brief moments of power, which could give them an edge over their opponents. The flow of the game isn't bad, and the pacing goes along quickly, which is pleasant considering the blatant disregard for some of the fundamental rules of soccer. This disregard gives the title a belittling view on the game and leaves seasoned soccer players or fans angered and appalled.


Difficulty:

Getting over Pet Soccer's obliterating controls mechanism and lack of attention to soccer standards puts the title in an odd set up for difficulty. Generally, the game plays like a dumbed down version of soccer, with a strange feature that makes it seem a little like a touch football game. Keeping the ball in your control is perhaps the most difficult aspect of Pet Soccer, since players lose control of the ball when an opponent simply touches the character.

Game Mechanics:

Controls are kept simple, but their simplicity proves to be the ultimate downfall for Pet Soccer. All other faults aside, the inability to operate Pet Soccer like other simple soccer games gives this title a definite disadvantage. As previously mentioned, you really don't have to do much to take the ball from an opposing player. Running close to the player is good enough to generate an automatic steal. Camera angles sometimes jump in directions that give the opposing team a higher degree of advantage, and often the ball, which should travel in one direction, seems to miss the plane and instantly become the opponent's offense.

While it is understandable that Pet Soccer would step away slightly from the rules of the game and invent an imagined universe for characters and game style, the game seems to have taken these leniencies slightly too much in every category. Perhaps young, early grade school children will enjoy Pet Soccer as an introduction to the sport, but seasoned veterans, or even novice soccer fans, will likely recognize Pet Soccer's inability to surface little more that eye candy and aggravation.


-==Boy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Kyle Prestenback

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium 366 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 550 MB Hard Drive Space, 100% Compatible Open GL Video Card w/ 16 MB Video RAM, Sound Card, Mouse and Keyboard, DirectX 7.0, CD-ROM Drive
 

Test System:



Windows XP Professional, AMD Athlon XP 1800+, 1GB RAM, GeForce4 TI 4200 64MB VRAM, 16X DVD drive

Windows Myst Trilogy Windows Port Royale

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated