With Urban Freestyle Soccer Acclaim has taken a departure from the typical "footie" simulations to provide a fast paced all action game reminiscent of arcade style matches of the past - whilst offering turf warfare style action as ten gangs battle it out in a match with no rules, penalties or even a referee.
Losing the restrictive rules of titles featuring more professional game play not only moves this game into arcade territory, but also significantly ups the pace. Despite the fancy looking footwork included in the game, there is no need to randomly button-bash to achieve results, although as the action hots up you could well find yourself just going for any button in the hope that you'll get the ball up the right end of the make-shift pitch.
Teams are made up from a cross-section of urban youths, including skateboarders and the like, although unfortunately the teams aren't customisable, and the only changes possible to players is the skill level which increases as they play matches, of which there's various styles of gameplay, with the Turf War option coming across as being the main feature of the single player mode.
As you would expect, the multiplayer option is the most inspiring and helps with the longevity of the game - friendly matches between teams are far from "friendly" with the ability to assault the opposition with not only your fists and feet, but also tables and chairs! Players also utter the odd comment and taunt as they play, although the vocabulary seems somewhat restricted as is the music which despite being from some well known groups, is far too short and soon becomes repetitive.
Sponsorship from Adidas means the clothing and equipment used in the game are spot on, but a certain lack of crispness in the graphics leaves you with fuzzy images, meaning the accurate rendering of Adidas wares gets rather lost. Visually Urban Freestyle Soccer disappoints as there's moments of graphical slowdown, specifically during replays of goals, which can leave you frustrated if it was a real corker of a shot - to make matters worse the "Netbuster" moves are all but wasted when your player turns in to little more than an indistinct blur.
A rather unpredictable AI is apparent when it comes to goal keeper ability, and one moment they appear to be real pro's, and the next they are useless - unfortunately this seems to be the case for AI players in general, and there seems to be no real level of consistency between good and awful... but then this isn't professional football, it's simply a kick-about in the streets, and the randomness of players would probably be on a par with some local Sunday-league players.
Urban Freestyle Soccer could have been an excellent game, and the makings really are there due to the exaggerated game play in the "urban" setting which provides a nice change from the complex professional football titles. The multiplayer mode thankfully gives it some much needed replay value, but the lack of overall polish leaves you feeling a little cheated - where was all the urban atmosphere?Overall score: 4 out of 10
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: February 2004Buy Urban Freestyle Soccer for the PS2 from Amazon