You might be wondering, why am I reviewing a football game? The simple answer is that I asked because, despite never touching a modern FIFA or PES, I played the original Kick Off games to death when I was a kid. It’s a decision I’m now regretting as, much as I hate to say it, Kick Off Revival is rubbish.
Loading it up for the first time, the music is cheesy, the 3D graphics are terrible and there are barely any sound effects. They’re obviously aiming to engage my sense of nostalgia, but it’s taking things a bit too far when the crowd sound effect – and yes, there is just one – seems to be an 8-bit sample that loops ever half a second when you score.
Not only that, but you’re left to figure out how to play the game for yourself. There are no instructions or tutorials in game, so it’s up to you to learn that you press X to kick/head/tackle, with just this one button used for every move, while the left stick controls your player. The amount you push determines your speed and ball control but it’s almost impossible to run with the ball. To be fair the ball didn’t stick to your feet in the original game either, but it was so much easier to control with just eight directions to move in.
You can switch into a “strafe” dribble mode which does lock the ball to your player, but it slows you down so you can instantly be tackled. You can’t even change the direction you are facing, forcing you to let go of X, turn and then try and recapture the ball.
What is worse is that switching to strafe mode requires you to have the analogue stick completely centred and your player motionless. It’s a glaring flaw when you consider that you need to be continually moving, and therefore pushing the stick, to avoid being tackled by the opposing team. So I quickly stopped trying to use the move and just kicked the ball on instead of strafing, and to be honest I didn’t see the AI using strafe mode at all.
There’s also just a lack of clarity to the game’s controls – there might be an after touch system, but I have no idea how I managed to make the ball curve that one time, and I’m not sure if you can control the keepers – but the rest of the game is also just unpolised and poorly thought out.
It’s meant to be a fun arcade game, so perhaps I can excuse the ref not sending off players after dirty tackles, but there’s no offside rule either – in fact there aren’t many rules being enforced at all. The AI is terrible as well, taking four minutes to score when I put the pad down. All of the players are white with black hair, as is every single face in the crowd. You press square to start the game and no cross, like 99% of games…
I could go on, but I won’t. I will simply ask, if this was meant to be an arcade game, why do I need to use tweeted flowcharts to explain how to play it?
The game has the bare minimum of modes, with single and two player local play, a Euros style tournament, and play against others online. At least, you’re meant to be able to play online, but it took fifteen tries before I could actually get in a match and when I did the game turned into a stuttery and completely unplayable mess. There is also a practice mode to let you try a few moves and has some challenges, but it has a bizarre time limit and kicks you out after a few minutes.
The game briefly redeems itself when you have a friend sat on your couch to play, but only because it’s amusing to hear them try and work out what to do. “Are they selling this?” asked my victim in an incredulous tone. “Where are the controls?” he continued, searching fruitless through the minimal menus. “It’s like rubbish pinball, and why do they keep zooming across half the pitch when you tackle, have they got rocket powered boots?”
But there’s a reason the game is a mess, which has been explained in a Facebook post. It seems that the team knew full well that the game is less than good, but felt the need to rush and release during Euro 2016:
We have the obligation to ship it for Euro and we are a small team, so we had to prioritize the features and we have a road map for the weeks coming to fix and add all features.
Quite how anyone thought this game was ready for release is beyond me. It’s more like a proof-of-concept demo, and for the many people looking for a nostalgic return to classic football games, a massive disappointment.