Remember when sports games had a simplistic aesthetic, only had a couple of buttons for passing and shooting the ball/puck/whatever, and every player looked/played the same while only being represented by a few letters? Active Soccer 2 DX remembers, and it’s taking sports fan down nostalgia lane with this accessible yet fun soccer game. Developed by The Fox Software, Active Soccer 2 DX is a game that boils the game of soccer down to its roots: Passing and shooting. Originally started on PC and Mac and eventually ported over to the Xbox One, this top-down arcade soccer game takes players back in time to a period when sports games were more simplified, rather than the more realistic simulation games that the FIFA and PES series have developed and fine-tuned over several games. At first, this might feel a bit jarring to anyone who’s never played any of the classic sports games on the NES, but anyone who grew up with the classic sports games will feel right at home with Active Soccer 2 DX.
Active Soccer 2 DX: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: The Fox Software
Publisher: The Fox Software
Release Date: 30 March 2016
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
When you start the game, you are greeted with a catchy tune, where the singer tells players to go for the gold. There are a few game options that are presented which include: Quick Match, Tournament, Career, Training, Replay, and Options. Quick Match and Tournament are self-explanatory while Career lets you play through a season with a team while you are able to play the role of manager in-between games; transferring players and managing your select squad. The controls in Active Soccer 2 DX are fairly simple. There is a button to pass, lob pass, shoot and boost. That’s it. It’s a control scheme that lends itself well for casual gamers who aren’t familiar with the FIFA or PES games, making it a great pick-up-and-play game.
Visually, Active Soccer 2 DX utilizes a simple art style that fits the philosophy of the game well. Due to the top-down camera style of the game (which can be zoomed and rotated), character models are very simple and lack any real details. Arenas and stadiums look largely the same, but the game does offer weather effects such as rain and snow. However, crowd chants are largely the same and outside of the main theme, there isn’t any sort of soundtrack during the matches themselves. Furthermore, whenever teams are playing with the same colour jerseys, it becomes much more difficult to play as it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish between teammate and opponent.
Active Soccer 2 DX has a couple glaring faults, which boil down to AI difficulty and a clumsy menu system. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, the AI can become quite aggressive at times, causing several fouls just to get the ball away from you. As such, it can be quite difficult at times to play a more neutral or defensive style of play. None of the teams feel that much different either, so the only thing that really distinguishes one opponent from another is simply their jersey colours. While the menu system is simple, navigating through them sometimes can be anything but. The overly sensitive controls in the menu makes it difficult to navigate through the menu system, more difficult than it should be and clumsy at times. It’s a strange problem to have, but one that proves to be frustrating after long periods of play.
Through its simplified controls and aesthetics, Active Soccer 2 DX does an adequate job of taking the beautiful game back to its gaming roots. One where you aren’t worried about buying cards to create the ultimate fantasy team, setting up the perfect plays before the game even begins, or using every button on the controller to set up the perfect deke or corner pass. However, the novelty wears off rather quickly after a few games when you realize that the AI plays the same aggressive style regardless of whatever jersey they are wearing, and when you figure out the best tricks to beat said AI.
The clumsy menu system makes setting up and starting a new match more annoying than it needs to be, and the questionable referee calls will make players wonder just how crooked the officiating really is. While the game supports up to 8 players for multiplayer, this is only towards local multiplayer only, as there is no online option, which severely limits the replayablity of the game depending on whether you have access to any local friends who would be interested in joining for some casual soccer action. As such, the novelty may wear off quicker for some. Anyone looking for a simple soccer game that is easy to learn and get into need not look further than Active Soccer 2 DX. However, those looking for a soccer game that offers depth and longevity at a budget price may be better off buying an older FIFA game.