Pure Football is Ubisoft’s entry into the football games genre, which is currently dominated by EA Sport’s FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer. Pure Football though, isn’t a direct competitor to those games; it’s instead a 5-on-5 arcade game much like the FIFA Street games, with an emphasis on over-the-top action and a blatant disregard for the laws of physics. If done right, arcade sports games can be a lot of fun, as evident from the early NBA Street titles. In Pure Football, however, it’s all gone horribly wrong as it fails to implement even the most basic gameplay mechanics that you would usually take for granted in football games.

Gameplay is where Pure Football suffers the most, and there’s no coming back from that. Stiff animations and clunky player movement make you feel like you’re controlling elephants rather than the world’s top pro footballers. The poor animations also affect the responsiveness of controls, resulting in delayed passes and shots on goal. All passes and shots almost seem to travel on rails, and regardless of where you direct them, the ball seems to only travel along its predetermined paths. So even though you may see a teammate in an open space, there is a chance that your pass will be directed closer to an opponent than your intended target. The AI doesn’t help matters either. Teammates have a knack for making runs straight into opposition players, and in defence, they run around everywhere but in the direction of the ball.

This being an arcade game, there are shot meters and power bars galore. The success or failure of a cross or shot on goal depends on which part of the power meter you release it on. Hit the green area for a good shot, and the red for a misdirected one, but if you manage to hit the small white area, you’ll earn yourself a Pure Shot, which has a greater chance of hitting the back of the net. You can also earn Pure Shots by playing well and filling up your pure bar. There’s even a bar for fouls; fill it up all the way through mistimed tackles and your opponent will be awarded a penalty. It’s a fairly good system, but thanks to the broken gameplay, its implementation is inconsequential.

If you’re a FIFA or PES player, you’ll have to forget everything those games have taught you to be able to play Pure Football, and that’s got more to do with how bad this game is than anything else. But if you are able to get to grips with the controls and compensate for its inadequate gameplay, you may just find the campaign mode tolerable; but only just. First, you must create a custom player and a custom team that is full of nobodies. You must then take on 17 of the world’s top national teams over 28 days in order to qualify for the final tournament.

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