Driving towards goal. Literally.
Euro 2012 is well underway, which means videogame and app tie-ins are popping up all over the shop to capitalise on the football fever before the tournament period is up. As I sat on the couch watching Germany defeat The Netherlands last night, something occurred to me, something no-one has ever thought of. Something revolutionary. I suddenly had a great idea that would transform the beautiful game forever, and for the better: forget players, football should be played with cars. Yes my friends, motor vehicles should inhabit the field of play.
Imagine my glee then, when I realised that developer IceFlame have made that dream into a (virtual) reality. Soccer Rally: Euro 2012 is a ‘Football’ game where instead of fielding eleven players, you control a car. The object is still the same – score more goals than your opponent, but you achieve this by accelerating into an oversized ball with your vehicle, and knocking it into the back of the net. It’s a completely bonkers premise.
The game mimics the set up of the Euro 2012 tournament. This means the full competition with accurate group stages and knockouts, leading to the final, as well as all 16 teams each represented by a car. It sticks to this template rigidly, and there’s no option to randomise groups, which would’ve been nice. There’s only so many times you can play as England vs France before you feel like asking someone to kick a football into your groin.
Having said that, it doesn’t really matter because each country plays exactly the same no matter which you pick or play against. The car models are identical and only differentiated by the colours of the country’s flag splashed across them, which is a huge opportunity lost in my book, and a shame, because the graphics are decent to look at. One could even call it missing an open goal, if one wanted to use one’s knowledge of Footsoccer to create a metaphor.
Here’s where you could have 16 different cars to choose from, each with different visuals and distinctive stats relevant to each country. The Dutch car could’ve been a sporty racer, with nimble handling, but internals that could break down at any minute; the Italian vehicle would be slow, but well protected, and the England car could’ve just been plain old crap. Sorry, Three Lions fans, that was rather harsh.
But what you get is bland and generic. Even the flag colours occasionally cause trouble – try playing as Russia vs Czech Republic and see if you don’t get your cars mixed up at least once. It smacks of a Euro 2012 cash in.
On the field, gameplay is infuriating for one major reason: you can’t reverse. If the ball finds it’s way behind you, the only way to reach it is to drive back round in a circle. This leads to some extremely frustrating matches (which thankfully only last two minutes), where you feel like you’ve been unfairly handicapped from the start. A bit how Scotland would feel if they played Spain.
The cars also control in a finicky manner. There are two arrows on the left side of the screen – one controls left to right turning, the other the opposite way. And acceleration button on the right drives you forward. You never really feel at ease with them though, as it feels as if precise control has been taken away to make the game harder. They kind of slip and slide along the pitch as if they’re only vaguely responding to your input.
Despite all this, it is possible to have some sort of tortured pleasure. You might enjoy the novelty of it for the first few matches, and there’s a nice mutiplayer feature where you can play on the same iPad, and even phone, but it’s simply missing too many fairly obvious features for it to garner a decent score. What about some sort of turbo boost for your car? Where are the difficulty settings? Is online mutliplayer too much to ask for?
It’s lacking too much, and there’ll come a point when you realise that grabbing the keys to your Honda Civic and ram-raiding a real football match would be much more fun.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg
Soccer Rally: Euro 2012 is out now for £0.69 as a universal app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Get it now on the