Pure Futbol Review

The word "pure" brings a number of things to mind: something that is unsullied, close to perfection and idyllic. To say that the word comes across as ironic after only a few minutes of playing Pure Football is an understatement, as this is as far from pure football as it is possible to get. Forget diabolical titles like FIFA Street – this is the new benchmark for poor quality. Are you ready for some punishment? Then let us begin.

Spectacular is supposedly the name of the game.

It's true that Ubisoft seem to have a real knack for diversity when it comes to the quality of their products. How a company can go from the sublime highs of Assassin’s Creed 2 to the bitter lows of this game, and various other movie tie-ins, is a real mystery. The inspiration here has clearly come from the success of EA's FIFA Street series - which never enjoyed much in the way of plaudits either - and the obvious lure of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, but the real missing ingredient in Pure Football is actually a key one; and that's making it fun.

Simply put, this is meant to be a fun five-a side-variant on all the things that make football great. A whole host of majestic headers, bone crunching tackles and sweetly struck volleys are all present and correct, but nothing really gels together at all. There are only seventeen teams to choose from, plus some Legends squads, and they seem to have been picked out of a hat. The players themselves are all cartoon variants of their real-life counterparts, but none of them respond any differently so the looks are pretty much superficial. To make matters worse, the game even suffers from some major frame-rate issues in places which is unimaginable considering there is so little going on most of the time. As first impressions go, it is hardly one for the ages.

The main problem with the general gameplay comes from the overly loose controls. Most of the players handle like tanks and gone are any subtle side steps and feints, as even the skillful moves are one dimensional and easily read. Crossing and shooting is done by holding a button down and releasing it as a timed bar gets to a sweet spot. Time it well enough and you’ll hit your target, but time it perfectly and you will have some added power behind your effort. Every blocked or saved shot also fills your "Pure Bar" which lets you access instantly unstoppable shots.

Bone crunching tackles are the norm.

On the defensive side of things tackles can be of the ‘step in’ or sliding tackle variety, but both are annoyingly fickle. Pressing the step in button should make a player attempt a challenge but that is not always the case, and even when you do go for the ball, you will just end up bouncing off a player most of the time. Fun stuff. Sliding tackles are even worse as the animation only seems to occur about five seconds after you press the button, making the timing all but impossible. Foul your opponent too many times and you will give away a penalty no matter where you are on the pitch too, which only adds to the frustration. Instead you just try and pass the ball around before smacking a shot at the goal; rinse and repeat that formula for five minutes and move onto the next game. Not exactly riveting stuff.

The main mode to indulge in Pure Football is the game's "campaign mode," which is a quite frankly a good idea to start with, but rapidly devolves into mindless repetition. You start with a basic created player and a bog standard team with the goal of reaching the top eight in the ongoing competition. To do so you take part in a range of events from mini leagues, to timed games or winning by a set number of goals. The variety is hardly mind boggling but is enough to keep you interested. Every action nets you points to spend on upgrading your character and by performing specific actions in a match, you can also unlock other players to add to your squad. An example might be, that by keeping a 90% shooting accuracy while playing against England, you will unlock Frank Lampard. The set up does ensure though that you have a constantly evolving squad and lead player to keep you entertained. Sadly every game plays out pretty much the same way, and once you master the timing of shots you will be hammering opponents time after time on pretty much any difficulty. It all builds up to one last tournament and then that is your lot.

I just cannot do it anymore – this game is just awful...

There is one other boon of the campaign in that you can use unlocked players to build an online team, but this is frankly a waste of time, mainly because the online lag is so appalling that it makes things practically unplayable. The timing bar even has a delay on it, making it all but impossible to hit Pure shots unless by extreme luck. In fact, just hitting a regular shot requires you to let go of the button before the bar has even popped up on screen most of the time. Throw in a distinct lack of game modes, crippling slowdown and an already dead online community and it becomes an incredibly tough sell. You could always play multiplayer on one machine with up to four people, but I would only recommend that if you are looking to lose some friends. Or punish some enemies.

The achievements are actually not too shabby, although you would probably prefer them to be easier considering how bad the game actually is. You can pick up points from scoring a variety of goals, snagging goals early or doing well online which is all simple enough. You will also have to play the campaign a minimum of three times with each of the player types too, again, nothing too outrageous. The real grind comes from unlocking all of the online crests, which are based around having high shooting percentages, scoring Pure shot goals, using certain teams and the like. Considering I was ranked in the top twenty in the world after only a couple of games it is safe to say that you will need a boosting partner to get everything done. Despite all that, the worst comes from the fact you have to unlock all players throughout various campaign playthroughs and meeting some of the targets to do so is a real grind – assuming you can get all relevant players to appear in the first place. A varied list but one that is more of a chore than would be hoped.

To be perfectly blunt, Pure Football is one of the worst football games on the 360 and is totally lacking in the fun department. Winning every game against a lacklustre AI and experiencing some of the most horrible online play is hardly a great way to sell a game and chances are, any fun you glean from this game is going to be short lived. With the World Cup looming ever closer, it is easy to see the motivation behind the seemingly rushed nature of this title, but that does not make it any less excusable.

Not great and you'll be reaching for the mute button as soon as possible.

Over the top caricatures that are decent at times, but appalling at others. The frame-rate is shocking and there is surprisingly so much slowdown and lag, even when there is not much going on.

Fun for all of five minutes, after which you'll be scoring with pretty much every attack and wondering why you ever bothered picking the game up in the first place.

What is meant to be a fun, light-hearted game of football is crippled by drab presentation, a simply terrible online offering and a repetitive campaign. Even FIFA Street was better than this.

Probably the best part of the package, but still hugely skewed. A few hours work will net you most of the points, but then you are faced with grinding out the campaign and online modes to unlock all players and crests. Not cool.

Pure Football is quite simply a terrible game on every level, never mind the fact it is one of the worst football titles available. Everything seems to have been rushed and poorly thought out, and the online is just shoddy. Even short blasts will soon get tiresome and it would probably never get near most respectable rental lists either. Avoid at all costs.

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