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New Star Soccer 3 PC

Published by New Star Games
Developed by Simon Read
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $19.95 (£10.56)
Website : http://www.newstarsoccer.com/index.htm

New Star Soccer 3, an introduction

Football games are released year after year. Each subsequent version of a game is supposedly better than the last. Sometimes it is and sometimes it's not. In each of these games you control the player who is nearest to the ball on your chosen team. What if you controlled only one of the players though? What if you could play through a simulated football career and make the decisions in your virtual life that footballers are faced with in today’s game? Well believe it or not there is a series called New Star Soccer that allows you to do just that. Ashamedly we haven’t played the first two titles in the series and I say ashamedly because we’ve found New Star Soccer 3 to be one of the most addictive football games we’ve ever played.

What’s the game about?

New Star Soccer 3 allows you to play through a virtual football career. Starting as a 17 year old you’ll begin the game with hardly any ability and it’s up to you to put the work in and build up your abilities. The game isn't just about playing match after match. There are many decisions to make in the life of a virtual footballer and New Star Soccer 3 does a good job of providing an arcade style take on the profession.

What’s good about the game?

New Star Soccer 3 looks innocent enough but believe me it’s one of the most addictive games you can currently purchase. The game is a potent mix of classic arcade football and a genuinely humorous string of events as you play through your career. You’ll begin by selecting your difficulty level (Amateur, Pro or Expert), your preferred foot, your preferred position and whether you’ll play on the left, right or in the centre. Next you’ll get to distribute some technique, fitness and tactics points. Technique points can be distributed between flair, control and both feet attributes. Fitness points can be distributed between pace, stamina and strength attributes. Tactics points are distributed between positioning and vision. Of course we haven't covered the skill attributes such as shooting, passing, heading and tackling. You'll get to develop these (and the other attributes we've already mentioned) during the course of your career. To finish off creating your player you'll give them a name; choose their appearance and birthplace before deciding which of the 40 nations you wish to start your career in. Finally you'll have a trial with the team of your choice and then you'll be able to accept or refuse a contract.

With your new career begun you'll be on the road to football stardom. There are many things to keep your eye on though. You'll have to maintain good relationships with your family, friends, team mates, manager, the supporters, the media and your girlfriend (if you have one). There's the opportunity to gamble, drink, and *gasp* take drugs. These activities can backfire on you though. Drinking can raise your confidence but if you get drunk you'll notice your player is all over the place when it comes to match day. Random drugs test are issued too so it's always risky using those stimulants. You can spend the money you earn on things such as homes (ranging from motor homes to multi-million pound castles), clothes and gifts for your loved ones. Of course ladies will make themselves available and they all tend to like different things. Some will like expensive jewellery, some designer clothes and other will simply want to be around the rich and famous. Of course there are positives to being in a relationship but it can be a distraction too. Should you become unhappy with your current team you are free to put in a transfer request and even state which nation is your preferred destination. The game is filled with random events that for better or worse can affect your attributes or condition. A family member may ask you to help them move home. Being the helpful soul you are you'll naturally offer to help them (you can refuse though) but it's possible that you may hurt yourself doing so and you'll lose an attribute point or some energy.

Of course what you'll really want to do in between games is improve your stats. You can do training exercises to improve your skills (set pieces, shooting, heading, dribbling, passing and tackling) and these exercises get progressively more challenging.  Doing these exercises will take up some energy. To improve your other attributes you'll simply lose 25 energy points (the most energy points you can have is 100). Energy is very important because if it's too low you won't be picked to play in matches and once it drops too low during a match you'll be substituted. Increasing your stamina attribute will mean your energy will last longer during matches and that you'll gain more energy when you're not playing.

The matches are where all the action is and they are very enjoyable. The look and feel of the game is very reminiscent of classic arcade football games such as Sensible Soccer, which is certainly no bad thing. Of course you're only controlling one player during a match (should you not be picked you can opt to receive a quick result so you don't have to watch a game you're not playing in) and it's a very different feel to controlling the whole team. In many ways you have to think like a footballer in that you have to stick to your position. You'll have to watch your movement and not get caught offside and such like. It's all very enjoyable though and once your player begins to improve his attributes you'll feel more comfortable against your opponents.

What’s bad about the game?

I suspect the biggest complaint you can have with NSS 3 is the look of the game. The matches are only fractionally better looking than the original Sensible Soccer games and whilst this adds a nostalgic feeling to the game it may be a bit of a shock to those who aren’t old enough to remember the classic arcade football games of yesteryear. Having said that, the biggest complaint might be that you put off doing things you should be doing in favour of playing 'one more match'. The game is fiendishly addictive and it's possible for hours to fly by whilst you're playing when you initially intended to be playing for only 20 minutes or so. It would have been nice to have had youth and reserve sides to play in but in all honesty that's just being finicky.  

How does it look?

Let’s make no bones about this, the game does look dated. To some this will probably be disappointing but to others who remember games such as Sensible Soccer, Kick Off 2 and the early Player Manager titles the look of NSS 3 will bring back fond memories. The default view is the traditional top to bottom overhead view that you'll have seen in Sensible Soccer but you can opt to switch to a horizontal, side to side view if you want to. The game does have some basic weather effects (and snow covered pitches too) and whilst they aren't anything special it's difficult to argue that they don't add a certain charm to the game.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

New Star Soccer 3 is actually very basic when it comes to sounds. All of the information in the game, such as the news items and questions that appear from time to time, is in text. There's no speech here just the referee's whistle, some crowd noise and the thud of the ball being kicked around. In short it's a very deaf gamer friendly game.

Final thoughts.

New Star Soccer 3 is quite simply a classic that all fans of classic arcade football games just have to own. The game is only $19.95 which currently works out at just under £11.00 which represents superb value for money. The game is just so addictive and absorbing that it's easy to forgive the rather basic appearance of the matches (although many will love the look of the game for its classic appearance). Amazingly the game is the work of just one man, Simon Read. As I write this Simon is close to finishing work on his latest game, Sensational Soccer and I have to say (after playing the RC1 version of the game for a while) it's another impressive effort. Fans of classic arcade football games should definitely keep a close watch on this man's future titles.

Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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New Star Soccer 3 is highly recommended to any fans of the classic arcade football titles such as Kick Off 2 and Sensible Soccer. Who would have thought that being able to play through a virtual footballer's career would have been so much fun?