During a recent visit to the sports area of Sony's PlayStation Experience event, we braved the crowds to get a little hands-on time with the PS2 version of Acclaim's Urban Freestyle Soccer. In fact, we managed to play through the game's entire training mode before we played a match, and since the game's controls are so unconventional, we're very pleased that we did.
Watching other people playing Urban Freestyle Soccer before we got our turn, the game appeared to be incredibly complex, with a vast array of special moves and tricks that the soccer players can perform. Playing through the training mode, though, we discovered that what the game actually has is a whole load of fancy animations for even the most simple pass, chip, and shoot commands. Legitimate tricks and special moves do feature quite heavily in Urban Freestyle Soccer, but since most of them are performed simply by depressing a shoulder button and then pressing a second button, the game really isn't half as difficult to come to grips with as it appears to be.
As you successfully perform tricks, score goals, or tackle opposing players, a kind of energy bar known as the netbuster meter fills up. When the meter is full, a large glowing red circle appears somewhere on whichever makeshift soccer pitch you're playing on, and, if you're able to get the ball into it and take a shot while holding down two shoulder buttons, you'll unleash a spectacular netbuster shot on the opposing goalkeeper. The netbuster shots are, of course, accompanied by some truly unbelievable animations, but their purpose isn't just to look good, but also to improve the odds of scoring. When the shots are unleashed, all the opposing players fall to the ground so that even if the shot misses the goal, there's a very good chance that you'll be able to pick up the rebound.
Defensive play is a little more conventional for the most part, but in addition to standard tackles, the players are able to perform shoulder checks or even pick up objects to strike their opponents with. There's no referee in the game, but since badly timed tackles and deliberate fouls result in netbuster points being lost, we found that standard tackles were the best way to go--at least for our team.
Urban Freestyle Soccer is currently scheduled for release in November. For more information, check out our previous coverage of the game.