Ubisoft has boldly entered into the soccer genre with Pure Futbol, and while they’ve smartly chosen to avoid direct competition with Konami and EA Sport’s Pro Evo and FIFA series, that’s about the only smart thing about this game.
The Pure Futbol box greets you with the tag line “Authentic Soccer” and, after sitting down with the game, it’s a rather laughable statement. Pure Futbol is trying to be FIFA Street or, to a lesser extent, something like SEGA Soccer Slam except without the really cool tackles, crazy teams, and special shots. It’s a 5 on 5 iteration of the beautiful game that shows glimpses of promise but does not deliver an enjoyable experience and certainly not an authentic one.
It is easier to begin with what Pure Futbol does well. It’s managed to secure the names and likeness of many of the world’s best players, including legends like Pele and the official emblems for a variety of national teams. The game is presented in a stylish way that’s somewhat reminiscent of a Nike commercial and it's nice, when participating in a penalty shoot-out, to have PRESSURE or BOTTLED IT flash across the screen when you or your opponent misses and UNLUCKY flash up at the end of a game if you lose.
The idea behind the game's campaign mode is also not bad. In it, you create their own player and team and participate in a bunch of challenges against other teams. These challenges give you access to Pure points to upgrade your created player. Completing certain tasks in the games you play will unlock players who are of a higher skill level than your current crop of guys. All the while your actions are reflected in a table which consists of 18 teams. The idea is to get into the top 8 of that table so you can play for the chance to face a team of legends. You get 28 virtual days to reach the clash against the legends. It’s a different focus for a soccer game.
Unfortunately, the game is hampered by some pretty poor graphics which make the players look like they are wearing spandex tops. Even though Ubisoft has access to the likenesses of players, the final product is not that great, especially for an HD system. The game also features a terrible sound scheme which makes the ball sound like a beach ball being kicked around and the reason you can hear the ball so clearly is because of a lack of commentary or a soundtrack. The game could have chosen some really thumping tracks to go with this faster, more arcade style, of soccer but they didn’t. They also could have chosen a few ex-players to provide some comical, less professional, commentary but they didn’t do that either and without that extra noise the game loses any atmosphere it may have had — there’s not even a crowd cheering.
There is also a fairly sizable load time for a game that didn't have commentary or a really high standard of graphics or long match times. It is even worse given that EA now has the cool loading screen where you can take shots at goal and Pure Futbol just has the control set-up.
Player controls are laggy and after playing the super slick FIFA 10 it’s really hard to get acquainted with Pure Futbol’s controls and player handling. The players don’t run and move in a fluid way compared to EA's latest offering, everything is angular and jerky. This reviewer encountered several instances when the passing was really bad, going in the complete opposite direction to where I wanted it to go and often traveling at a dreadfully slow pace. The goalkeeper controls are probably the worst of the bunch, with the keeper rarely travelling where you want him to go. There are also a few little things that cause problems like the tricky sprint system; the shooting button combination, which was hard to get right; an annoying penalty system that seems out of place; and the computer AI, which passes just as badly as you do. Even the campaign mode is hampered by a lack of game options, with the only variation coming in match time or how many goals you need to score in order to win.
On the whole it’s hard to recommend Pure Futbol. I will admit that the game can become a little addictive once you get into a groove and finally master the Pure Shot system, but I think I’m slightly influenced by the current World Cup hype and not the quality of the game. There are just too many flaws, like a poor soundtrack and audio, laggy and poor controls, and unimpressive graphics which make this an entry to forget for Ubisoft.
Pure Futbol is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.