The first truly great football videogame was Sensible Soccer - if you had an Amiga or Atari ST at the beginning of the 1990s, this was a game that you played until your fingers throbbed with arthritic spasms from gripping the joystick too hard. Enough reminiscing - fans of Sensi can relax, as the latest iteration is a brilliant return to form, although not quite the dream comeback we all wanted to cheer on from the terraces.
The new Sensible Soccer retains the easy to pick up, difficult to master aesthetic, complete with top-down view, but now with attractive cel-shaded graphics for those characteristic big-headed players. Jump straight in and you'll initially find the slimmed-down controls - just three buttons for short pass/tackle and long pass/shoot/slide tackle plus sprint - a little disorientating, but give it an hour, and you'll be confidently knocking the ball about the pitch like Beckham.
Speaking of which, if you wish to bend the ball like the sarong-wearing England captain, 'aftertouch' allows you to swing the path of the football left or right, as well as lift the ball in the air for immensely satisfying, pinpoint crossing and shooting. Also, the top-down view means you can actually see where you need to pass the ball, and also aim your shot accurately on goal using the excellent yellow direction/power arrow that appears under the player you're currently controlling.
A GAME OF TWO HALVES
Although Sensi doesn't have the official team and player names, another major plus point is the customisation for creating your own players, teams, leagues and cup competitions. The matches themselves are hectic, fast-paced affairs that while enormous fun, can often descend into farcical midfield battles where players are slide-tackling and going to ground quicker than an Italian forward. More worryingly, there are sometimes glitches with the ball, when it'll be heading towards the top corner of the goal for example, then inexplicably jump into the path of the goalkeeper's fingers.
However, for a no-nonsense, hugely enjoyable kickabout that's just a riot to play, especially in multiplayer (no online unfortunately), Sensible Soccer 2006 is better than anyone could have hoped. And it's more fun than FIFA.
Back in the big league
- Great fun to play
- Fantastic customisation
- Fast and exciting
- No official players or teams
- Some dodgy ball physics
- No online multiplayer