Historically football games come in two flavours. The expensive, licensed, graphics heavy and feature laden behemoths that are Fifa and PES, and the small scale indie efforts that rely on simple, effective gameplay. The superlatively named Awesome Soccer World is firmly one of the latter.
Most football gamers will recognise the overhead view and one button controls as reminiscent of the classic Sensible Soccer, you move and you pass; pass hard enough and you’ll shoot. Added to this is the ability to add a substantial after touch to shots, allowing you to swerve the ball significantly. It’s a really well implemented feature here and with some practice you can curl shots in both directions, making long range free kicks a real treat to take.
The rest of the mechanics are simple yet often not handled that well. Passing, for example, is a simple tap of a button but it’s a little too easy to run ahead of your own pass if you’re holding down a direction, and the controls for crossing are so odd and poorly explained that I never even began to get the hang of it, but short passes click around pleasingly fast.
The oddest part of ASW is how heavily tilted it is towards long shots. Quick taps from short range won’t build up enough power to even make the keeper flinch, but a combination of a slow charging power bar and a vulnerability to strong, blasted shots means that your best bet for scoring is to run up the centre of the pitch and hammer it at the keeper as hard as humanly possible. While this means that the vast majority of goals are spectacular it does mean that play rapidly becomes rather one dimensional as even on the top difficulty level (when the AI whizzes passes around at blurring speed) one can trot forwards and score with remarkable ease.
While Awesome Soccer obviously isn’t going to have the expensive licensing and likenesses that big football games offer, the players are all faithfully named, with each international team bearing a good resemblance to their recent squads. This does, however make it all the more baffling that they are unoptionally shoehorned into a 4-4-2 formation leaving players completely out of position. One would think that someone who knows the names of the current Italy squad would also know that Pirlo is not a striker. It’s such a simple thing to fix that ignoring it just comes off as a little lazy.
A great amount of effort, however, has gone into filling the game with tons of achievements in the form of ‘golden balls’ that pop up for just about everything you can do. There’s also a goodly amount of teams to choose from and the option to play both World Cup 2010 and custom leagues and tournaments.
Awesome Soccer 2010 is certainly fun to play, but it’s also very, very simple. The controls aren’t quite fine honed enough to produce truly emergent gameplay, the pitch is too small and you can score from too far out for any complex approach play. Curling a long range shot into the net is a delight, but in a world of free to play, browser based games it’s hard to imagine many people wanting to hand over their money for it.