STAFF REVIEW of Active Soccer 2 DX (Xbox One)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Active Soccer 2 DX Box art I’ll freely admit that I’m not the biggest soccer (or football, depending on which side of the water you come from) fan out there, but I do occasionally dabble in the odd game of FIFA if friends call for it. Heck, my best friend and I used to play Winning Eleven every night back in the PS2 days, so I’m no stranger to the soccer game offerings. Every year, gamers have the two options for their "footy" fix, that being EA’s FIFA or Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), and that’s been about it for quite a few years now.

Many gamers either prefer FIFA’s realism or the slightly more arcade style of PES, but there’s hasn’t been a soccer game in recent memory that simply tried to bring a fun experience without taking itself too serious or having to be licensed. Active Soccer 2 DX tries to remedy this by bringing a previously mobile only title over to the console for Xbox fans wanting something different. Do they succeed? Well, it is different, that’s for sure, I’m just unsure if it’s for the right reasons.

The first thing you’re going to notice when starting up Active Soccer 2 DX is the peculiar theme song that plays in the main menu. That being said, it’s oddly catchy and it eventually grew on me as time went by. Because Active Soccer 2 DX is an unlicensed soccer game, don’t expect to see any ‘real’ teams or player names, but in their place are slightly different spelling variations or phonetic changes to get around this expensive addition.

Played from a top down perspective, you’re able to change the camera angle along with other customizations such as weather, color of the ball, team kit colors, difficulty, and more. It’s obviously missing many options like AI settings and more in-depth choices, but there’s enough here to allow you to somewhat play the style of game you want.

There’s a tutorial included if you wish to learn the basics, but the game is simple enough that it really comes down to a few button presses. Passing is done with ‘A’, long passes ‘B’, ‘X’ is to shoot’ and ‘Y’ gives your player a short burst of speed. I do wish that the buttons were re-mappable though, as using trigger to sprint would have been much more intuitive and natural. While you’ll find the sprint helpful at first, you’ll quickly realize that once you have the ball, the opposing team’s defenders somehow channel the superhero "The Flash" as they can make it back to their designated spots at more than twice the speed you can, regardless if you sprint or have a head start.

This is where the wrinkles start to show. Shooting seems to have issues at times as you’ll more often than not completely miss the goal for no apparent reason, even with an easy and open shot. I found that if you’re running straight up the middle and shoot right towards the goal, it will probably veer to the side for some inexplicable reason, unable to correct its course with any kind of aftertouch.

As you play more matches you’ll start to run into issues with its penalty system, as you can essentially roll over other players and steal the ball without any recourse or fouls called unless you purposely slide tackle. Keep in mind though, this can happen to you as the AI team can do this. The same goes for sliding tackles, as you might get a foul or card even though you legitimately won the ball in legal fashion. Maybe this is a way to simulate ‘bad refereeing’, but it’s no less frustrating when it happens unfairly against you.

If you’re a soccer purist you should be warned that there is seemingly no adhering to offside rules either, as I’m pretty sure my fair share of goals have come from me being in prime position simply waiting for the ball while offside. It’s not a deal breaker for a simple title like this, but don’t go in expecting any type of simulation rules.

There’s an included career mode that’s surprisingly in-depth, as you’ll need to manage trades, players, injuries, and more, something that is akin to the sim-sports game Football Manager, though this version is obviously nowhere near as detailed. You’ll need to keep your team’s popularity up too, which can be quite difficult if not playing on the Easy setting. Easy still has its frustrations related to the issues cited above, but even a novice like me was able to score one or two goals a match usually.

As you'd expect in a soccer game, you’re going to have to constantly pass the ball to teammates in attempt to score, as you’ll most likely never really get a chance to run straight through the defense, again, because of their sudden super-human boost in speed when defending. The AI can also avoid your tackles with ease at times and run circles around your defense should they deem it fit at the time.

One of the biggest issues I had throughout the game wasn’t even during gameplay, but the menus. They are very clunky and basic, and navigation with the control stick is obscenely over sensitive, causing you to constantly miss your intended choice no matter how light or hard you move the stick. Some buttons also require non-logical stick movement too, feeling almost like a puzzle on how to pick a certain option. This feels sloppy and lacking in testing as you need to navigate the menu before and after every single game.

Given that this game was originally a mobile title you’ll know what to expect from its visuals. For what it offers it’s fine and suits the job, but it’s very basic and has no frills whatsoever. The same can be said for the audio, as there are the occasional crowd chants and cheers, but there are very few and what is offered becomes repetitive quite quickly.

I appreciate what Active Soccer 2 DX is trying to accomplish by bringing a soccer game that is basic and focuses on fun rather than hardcore simulation, but it’s very rough around the edges. Glitchy player animations (especially once a team scores), finicky menus, and a lack of adhering to basic soccer rules makes it a tough sell, especially at its asking price of $14.99. If it was more in the $5 range it would be a no brainer for a simple pick up and play match here and there kinda game, but at this price, you’ll want to wait for a sale.

Overall: 3.2 / 10
Gameplay: 3.5 / 10
Visuals: 3.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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