Love Football's spin on the footie genre (take control of a single player throughout an entire match) isn't a new one, but it's telling that the majority of the previous attempts have been locked away in the bowels of the Amiga and PC public domain. Simply put, history tells us that it's a brilliant idea, but it simply doesn't work. Namco should be aware of this: their PSOne effort along the same lines, Libero Grande, was pretty much plop. But what's that? Namco haven't learned their lesson, and are back with another attempt for the 360? Oh well. Mistakes like that happen to the best of us at times, so let's try to accentuate the positives.
Firstly, they've scrubbed it up right nice. It looks like it actually belongs on an Xbox 360 now (although close-ups make it look like the players have had an accident with an alien face-hugger). Plus, it's probably shaping up to be the best attempt at this sort of thing ever: once you realise it's not Pro Evo and learn to play it properly, it becomes a real battle of discipline, as you fight the urge to goal-hang and endeavour to man-mark, control territorial zones and set off on a mazy, classy dribble.
ALL YOU NEED IS...
The angle of the pitch in-game is kind of groovy as well - it's fixed behind the player so it actually, really does give the impression that you're out there on the pitch. And you've got to admit that among football sims this is the closest to replicating the feel of actually being out there as part of the team - shenanigans such as goal hanging and neglecting of defensive duties are a given. Sounds good, right? Right. But that tends to ignore Love Football's horrible, game-killing flaw.
It's not that nothing seems to happen on the pitch unless you're directly involved - AI will probably be tweaked before release. Nor is it the limited, twitchy controls, although they don't help. It's the uselessness of the camera, which is always in precisely the wrong angle to how you want it that turns a vaguely promising title into a bit of a train wreck. We may probably never see it in the West anyway - but unless the full game sorts out the camera it could be a case of Pain Stopping Play.
Camera issues and horrid controls currently plague Love Football, but the version we played was littered with impenetrable locks made of kanji which may hide hidden depths. We'll keep an open mind for the time being.