Urban Freestyle Soccer Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Gang warfare has spiralled out of control in the United States. Rival gangs will do anything to gain control of other gangs’ turf. To settle their differences, teams of gangsters square off in the ultimate display of thuggery; freestyle soccer matches.

Brought to you by Acclaim, ‘Urban Freestyle Soccer’ is arcade football with a difference. You won’t find these players crying over a grazed knee. Disrespect them and they are more likely to bust a cap in your ass. Taking control of one of ten teams, each with their own gang colours and distinctive ‘hood, you must beat all the competition to take control of the city. Matches are strictly 4-on-4 contests, making use of 40 unique players from different factions.

Armed with enough bling-bling to make even Mr T jealous, compete in five varied game modes including Turf Wars, Versus Mode, Home Turf, Freestyle or Street Challenge. There are also a number of mini-games to improve your skills. Before starting, it’s best to make use of the Training Mode, which highlights some of the craziest moves at your disposal.

While the main principles of football apply, the rulebook has been thrown completely out of the window. In fact, there’s not even a referee, so you can adopt a more underhanded approach to win. Stray trashcans and boxes are scattered around the playing field, and can be used freely to inflict damage on the rival team.

There are over 100 gravity-defying moves and tricks to learn. Performing tricks will award you points that can be used to upgrade your players’ attributes. A power gauge indicates how much juice you have left to sprint and perform skill moves. If unused for a period of time, the bar fills back up. Success during the match also fills up the Netbuster gauge. When complete, it will highlight random skill rings on the pitch for 20 seconds. From here you can perform one of four Netbuster shots, which have an increased chance of scoring.

The environment can be used to your advantage. You can pass the ball off the walls or fences to get into a better position. If you’re double-jointed and can press several buttons at once, you can even attempt a wall jump. Doing so will cause your player to run up a wall, evading obstruction from the other team.

The graphics are decent enough, but won’t have you dropping your jaws in amazement. The character models are well animated; especially when you learn to execute the combination moves. Each of the ten neighbourhoods is suitably dark, dirty and covered in graphiti. If Acclaim is to be believed, then all Ghettos’ are sponsored by Adidas.

Despite an impressive licensed soundtrack, Urban Freestyle Soccer’ features some decidedly dodgy vocal clips including ‘what kind of Jive-turkey we got here’ and ‘Stop talking sh*t or you’ll be eating it’. Of particular note is a seemingly out of place British thug announcing ‘Shut ya face or I’ll be doing it for ya’. Background effects include car alarms going off, and police sirens to add to the Ghetto feel. Bizarrely though, onlookers in the crowd seem to randomly scream in pain, which can become quite irritating. Mercifully, all of these sound effects can be individually silenced using the options menu.

Like the basketball inspired ‘NBA Street’ and the excellent wrestling title ‘Def Jam Vendetta’, ‘Urban Freestyle Soccer’ is another successful gangster re-imagining of a well-explored sport. While it may lack the depth of a simulation football game, it is arguably a lot more fun. There’s plenty to keep lone players occupied, but it’s the two-person multiplayer that will keep you coming back for more. With pick-up-and-play controls and over the top action, ‘Urban Freestyle Soccer’ will entertain casual gamers but may not offer enough long-term appeal to hardcore football fans.

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