Flawed but fun soccer action
The Kick Off series quickly established itself as a firm favourite with soccer loving gamers thanks to its simple to pick up but deep gameplay which accurately represented the sheer knockabout fun of playing a good game of football. This entry is however, something of a disappointment for long term fans given that there are a number of flaws which hold it back from being truly great, although newcomers to the series might not feel quite so let down. As a soccer game, this offers all the usual bells and whistles that you might expect, including the option to customise your teams, take part in a variety of competitions, friendlies or just practice, while you also have several views to choose from, including the classic top-down perspective. Controls are straightforward enough to pick up, with an extensive range of moves possible in the correct context and which are largely pretty easy to use. The gameplay itself is as fast and fluid as ever and matches do get genuinely exciting, although defending can be something of a challenge as you need to be absolutely precise to keep track of the opposing player. A further issue lies with the AI, with computer controlled players all too frequently engaging in frankly bizarre actions that leave the player wondering what exactly just happened. The visuals are reasonable enough, with a decent level of detail and some fluid animation which helps keep things moving at a decent pace, while the sound is exactly as you'd expect. While not quite up to the standards of its predecessors, Kick Off 2 being perhaps the standout, this remains enjoyable stuff if you can get past the flaws, but Kick Off 98 rectifies many issues and should perhaps be played instead.