Sensible Soccer Review

There are some really thoughtful features in Sensible Soccer that, if combined with diverse and complicated gameplay, would have made it a competitor in the sport of mobile soccer games.

Sensible World of Soccer debuted on the Amiga, where its simple, one-button gameplay leant it considerable success. Now, over a decade later, the mobile port of Sensible Soccer does its predecessor a certain amount of justice by re-creating its easy-to-pick-up format, simple interface, and its even simpler gameplay mechanic. Where it fails is in doing anything more than that. Even casual fans of the sport (who seem to be the primary target of this game) will get tired of the monotony. Ultimately this is a shame, because there are some really thoughtful features in Sensible Soccer that, if combined with deeper gameplay, would have made Sensible Soccer a contender.

How did those cheerleaders get out on the field?
How did those cheerleaders get out on the field?

Sensible Soccer's modes are divided up into friendly games, cups, and league matches. There is no difference between the modes except for the number of games that you are committed to playing in each. An additional mode, like a shoot-out or another soccer-themed minigame would have helped to break up the repetition a little.

No matter which game mode you pick, you will be able to choose one of 50 of the world's best soccer teams. The choice here seems to be in name only, as none of the teams are noticeably better or worse than any of the others. In fact, both the teams and the players are completely generic. Sensible Soccer does not have real player names and likenesses; it focuses on the more important distinction of player position. Players are referred to by their positions (whether it's stopper, sweeper, anchorman, striker, or others), and there is a handy chart to guide the nonsoccer savvy in determining which players work best in which type of position. This is very useful in case of injury, and a correctly substituted player will perform better when controlled by the CPU than a defensive player who has been placed in an offensive position.

The gameplay is easy to control and feels very smooth, even when running at angles that would feel awkward in other mobile soccer games. In fact, almost everything about ballhandling works well. Aiming is easy when passing between players, and aftertouch can be placed on every shot to give it a little nudge in the intended direction. Players from both teams do tend to clog up the goalie box a little too much, which makes getting a free shot difficult. However, this design just results in a score that is more representative of the actual game of soccer than other games tend to provide. Because of this, much of the game depends on passing and stealing the ball. As with the basic movement, it's very easy to both pass and steal, and it's easy to outmaneuver the CPU team once you get an idea of its general movement patterns. When you don't have control of the ball, the button for passing then becomes the button for sliding, and if you can't get the ball otherwise, sliding will almost always facilitate it. This can be problematic, because sliding also incurs a lot of penalties and injuries. Since the computer uses this tactic a fair amount, you'll spend a lot more time on penalty/injury screens than you should.

Sensible Soccer differentiates its players by position, but not by name.
Sensible Soccer differentiates its players by position, but not by name.

Some of the gameplay features are really nice, such as the way the game automatically chooses the most logical player on defense for you to be controlling. This is implemented very well and rarely will you find yourself with a player you can't use. You can also quit the game and pick it back up in the same place at any time, which is always a smart feature to have in a mobile game. Unfortunately, some of the more thoughtful details don't have any bearing on the game's overall polish. The graphics, which are viewed from an overhead, isometric perspective, are merely adequate. The game's major sound effect, the referee's whistle, can get downright annoying given how many times it's used in a typical game.

Sensible Soccer has a few things going for it, which makes it a fun game despite its simplicity. While the game might appeal to certain casual soccer fans, it won't be a good choice if you're looking for a deeper soccer experience, and in that case, you might be better off with EA's FIFA mobile offering instead.

The Good

  • Simple soccer fun
  • Some well developed features

The Bad

  • Not polished enough
  • Not for the hardcore fans
  • Too easy

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