Ultimate Beach Soccer
Developer: Pam Development
Released: November 2003
Genre: Sports (Soccer)
Capabilities: Memory Unit
Review Written: November 17, 2003
The latest craze in video games this generation is by outdoor
beach sports games. Tecmo popularized it on the Xbox with Dead or Alive
Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and other companies are following suit with recent
releases like Simon & Schuster’s Outlaw Volleyball and Acclaim’s
Summer Heat Beach Volleyball. Now the popular PC publisher Dreamcatcher is
throwing its hat in the ring with Ultimate Beach Soccer (UBS). I feel the
developers at Wanadoo were aiming for an arcade type game like the other
aforementioned titles, but instead made it a big mix of a simulation and arcade
UBS controls more like a simulation soccer title, like EA’s FIFA, but with a much more stripped down control system. UBS plays much like your standard soccer game where you can pass, shoot, and even power up your shots to yield out a powerful bicycle kick. The amount of different type of kicks and defensive moves are pretty limited however, and I just get this sensation that I wish I could do more. Regrettably, I just end up getting bored with the limited game engine. At least the controls are really easy to learn on your own, but it’s worth noting the game’s training mode never really helped me out one bit. It placed me in a location saying “perform X amount of this type of move” without even telling me how to perform the move they want me to do, so it will all rely from on-the-fly learning on your part.
One interesting element added in to gameplay is Power-up mode. There is a meter at the top of the screen for each team, and it is gradually filled up with “artistic” points whenever a flashy move is performed. When it is topped off the players on that team all get this blue glow off them and they pretty much act like they’re “on fire” like in Midway’s line of sports games. It is a nice touch I have to admit, but it just kind of feels awkward being included when there are penalties for rough behavior. When I’m in that Power-up state I want to kick over and shove my adversary down to get the ball away from him like I do when I’m “on fire” in NBA Jam, instead that evil ref gives me a yellow card.
UBS has a few ways to play from. First, there is “Friendly Game” which is basically your standard exhibition match by selecting two random teams and customizing the rules to your liking. The arcade mode is just you against several random computer opponents, with each one getting tougher in difficulty. Then there is the UBS Tour which is pretty much the main season mode for the game. Lastly, a Custom Tournament mode lets you set up a tournament bracket or league with up to three other players.
The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag, it seems for every up, there’s a down. The character models for the players are quite good, and I especially am found of their impressions when they are penalized. The cheerleader models are flat out ugly, and you keep on seeing the same bland models doing the same boring dance in each game. The animations for the artistic moves like bicycle kicks are nice to see and are animated well, but they grow dull after a while after seeing them an abundance of times in just one match. The particle effects from the sand getting kicked up from the beach is also nice, but nowhere near the superb quality as found in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
The announcer plays a big role during gameplay, he actually sounds like he is into the match as his one-liners are filled with plenty of emotion. Unfortunately, his lines get repetitive before even the first match is over. The soundtrack is comprised mostly of Reggae and Hip-Hop songs, much like in Tecmo’s volleyball title, and it matches the atmosphere of the game perfectly.
I liked going through the UBS Tour mode for a while, as I was surprised by some of the robust stat tracking options in all the top categories like scores, assists, and so on. However, the severely limited control scheme nearly strips away what fun those extra modes have to offer. The only other bonus is playing this with up to three of your friends in multiplayer.
Replay Value: 5.5
I do appreciate that Dreamcatcher is throwing out something new to the mix, as this is the first officially licensed beach soccer game I can ever think of. However, the severely limited controls and other drawbacks keep Ultimate Beach Soccer from competing with other top arcade sports games. As it is, you can probably make the most out of it with a rental.
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