At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Acclaim is showing off its upcoming Urban Freestyle Soccer game for the first time. The game pits various small urban gangs against each other in competitions that are more sportsmanlike than violent, and involve little more than a few traffic cones and a soccer ball. Not that the players on the court aren't afraid to play rough. Urban Freestyle Soccer quickly distinguished itself because of its appearance--what other soccer game is set on a basketball court?--and the gameplay looks to be shaping up as well. The game is only 60 percent complete at this time, but already we got a good feel for the sort of unfettered soccer action that the game is intending to provide.
Playing Urban Freestyle Soccer did remind us of other soccer games, despite the game's distinctive theme. Though some of the physics were relaxed and penalties weren't exactly an issue, we still needed to learn how to perform the sort of actions we would do in a more-authentic soccer game. At the same time, the game places more of an emphasis on performing the types of actions that would earn a real-life soccer player a red card. Here, you can slide tackle and otherwise mess around with the opposing players to your heart's content, and you pretty much have to in order to relieve them of the ball.
There's standard soccer scoring here, but we noticed that you earn points by performing certain moves and hitting opposing players with the ball, which made Urban Freestyle Soccer remind us a bit of the classic Super Dodge Ball. The look of the game is definitely going in the right direction, as there's lots of grit and no glamour--just a bunch of thuggish looking players on the turf and a small crowd watching from behind a chain link fence. Plenty of graffiti, too. There've been some off-kilter soccer games in the past, such as Sega Soccer Slam, but this one's shooting for a tough-as-nails look.
Urban Freestyle Soccer seems to place a unique spin on a sport that's never been too popular in the United States and perhaps needs an edge like this to gain some sports fans' attention. We saw only the Xbox version of the game on display, but Acclaim is working on it for the PS2, GameCube, and PC as well. We'll have more on the game leading up to its release.