No kit? Then play in your underwear.
I’ll admit that I’m not much of an E-sports advocate, I just don’t see the point of playing the digital version of a sport when you could simply go out, buy some second hand gear and do it yourself. That said, as a man will an illness that required a lot of abdominal surgery, the possibility of me ever playing football is remote, even as just a kick about.
So e-sports are a valid form of gaming, but I’ll admit this begrudgingly.
New Star Football 5 is a football game that has much of the charm of the older 8/16 bit era football games that were common on both Nintendo and Sega systems as well as Amiga’s back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Graphics wise its not a full on 3D game, but rather a homage to the older games by being as simple as possible so you concentrate on the game rather than the shiny.
Unlike most football games where you flick between all the players of the team who just happen to be closest to the ball, NSS5 (NSF5 really) keeps it simple by keeping you firmly in control of just one member of the team. This works well with the game mechanic because your individual performance and impact on the team as a whole is assessed, as well as your impact on the game & crowd which, in turn, affects just how much you earn in fame & money.
The management side of things is well thought out, with focus split on the key points of a players life with tabs such as a personal, lifestyle, transport and training to help kit out your character and boost his stats in a variety of ways. There is a relationship bar linked to the various people who the character will interact with, like the Boss, the team, family and girlfriend that I thought was a nice touch.
There are also performance boosters you can take just before a match, like boots, shin pads, power drinks, ‘stimulants’ and first aid, each of which can increase your character in a variety of ways. Each costs money and can affect your fame as a result (for good or ill), which will ultimately impact on how you play and how you are viewed by the team, fans and boss.
The on pitch game felt a little off to me, but I realise the reason for this was A) I don’t really get football so I didn’t quite understand the roll I picked (midfield) and B) the controls felt a little odd under my fingers (using a keyboard). A change to a games pad improves gameplay greatly but I still turned out to be awful.
The general feel of the game is good because its largely focused on the individual rather than the team. If you end up on the bench as a sub (yes, that can happen) you can be sat there watching your team play for a few minutes if you don’t skip the game. Your character can achieve this in two ways, through injury or by annoying the boss, resulting in you staying on the sideline. But even just being there can have an effect on you stats and standing, which again, is an odd quirk that someone had the thought to include.
The whole game strikes me like that; someone gave it some serious thought and looked for the details. As already stated, I’m not an e-sports fan and this game hasn’t changed that, but this strikes me as a clever game set apart from other football games by focusing on the narcissistic individual rather than the team as a whole. It’s all ‘me-me-me’ which to be fair, is the public image of most footballers that we’re willing to accept.
There are two options for play: Free mode and Premium. Free mode (after the initial 5 matches) limits you to three games a day, separated by several hours of waiting akin to other free to play games around the Internet (damn waiting), or you can shell out $20 (£12 in real money and €14 in monopoly money) for unlimited players per day.