The bright sun, the immaculate grass, the
indecipherable chants of the crowd, and of course the soccer
hooligans are all symbols of soccer to me. But to others it’s the
skill of the game, the intensity of the players and the footwork, that
draws them in. This is where Puma Soccer comes in. For those of
you who are unaware of what Puma is, they have been around for
a while making soccer shoes and soccer apparel. They must be
pretty popular in Europe, because here in the states Puma just isn’t
around any more. Anyhow, the current king of computer soccer is
Fifa 99, without a doubt. In some instances Puma Soccer really
can’t be compared to Fifa, because Puma Soccer tries to imitate
street soccer, where teams of 4 compete against each other in
small arenas. At least that’s the gist I get from the game, because
I’ll admit I’m not an expert on street soccer.
What’s the point of having a fancy video card if you cant
set resolutions or tweak with any of the other graphical settings? It
remains a mystery to me why Puma Soccer has zero video
options, you cannot even chose between D3D and Software
rendering. Upon starting the game it instantly goes to D3D, without
any conformation or acknowledgement. That gripe aside, the
graphics in Puma Soccer are average if not worse than average.
The camera angles used are much like that found in Fifa soccer or
any traditional soccer game. Character modeling is poor as well;
they don’t look and move realistically. The players’ chests heave,
but they do this regardless if it’s the start of the game or the end.
There are some interesting animations however, such as bicycle
kicks and ball maneuvers. The arenas include a city street, the
docks, the airport and a parking lot, and there is one hidden
arena. As if it wasn’t a surprise, the arenas are all average as well.
One thing I did slightly enjoy was the crowd waving their team’s
flag about, but the rest of the crowd is your typical bobbing up and
down animation bit. My final bitch is regarding the oh-so annoying
screen that pops up whenever there is a kick off or a goal.
Suddenly the screen turns black and then in squared letters it says
"kick off" or "goal." I get the picture a goal has been scored or the
game is starting, most people have a firm grasp of the obvious like
I do, I don’t like being treated like an idiot.
Control is fairly easy to adapt to, due to the small
amount of buttons needed. Pass, shoot, slide tackle and give and
go pass are all there really is. One thing that annoyed me was the
inability to switch what player I was controlling. This means that
the computer decides for you what player you control, however
you are automatically given the control of the player once he gets
the ball. An added feature is the "supershot," basically it uses a
charge system and you can kick the ball faster. I really didn’t
notice much of a benefit to this, I had more luck doing give and go
passes and shooting than using a "supershot." Generally speaking
control is solid, with a few quirks here and there but it’s much like
that of Fifa 99. Sound effects are average too, there is no crowd
chanting however. Which can be a deterrent for some who like to
feel the "rush" of playing in front of a virtual crowd.
Puma Soccer features a line-up of teams from around
the world, just about every country that plays soccer is here.
However, you won’t find any individual characters or stat’s for
them. Everyone basically looks the same, and it becomes quite
dull. Since there is no indication whatsoever what team is actually
the best, team decision is basically chosen by your favorite
country. Puma Soccer contains several modes of play, ranging
from exhibition games to tournaments. Nothing terribly new, just
the usual modes of play in any soccer game. 4 on 4 soccer can be
fun, but the fun doesn’t last for long, due to the blandness of Puma
Soccer’s gameplay. I wasn’t able to replicate many of the
maneuvers like bicycle kicks or fancy footwork, sort of a trial and
error system was used. Puma Soccer lacks any sort of real replay
value, due to the fact that the only multiplayer that exists is at the
same machine. Playing against the computer gets old fast, due to
the lack of any real variety between the teams and dull AI.
Computer Artificial Intelligence is almost a step below average.
One thing that annoyed me the most was the fact of how the
goalie reacted to the ball. Even if it was a light tap or a hard kick,
the goalie almost always reacts with a dramatic dive. Puma
Soccer can only be taken in small doses, otherwise you might fall
After playing Puma Soccer I decided to load up Fifa 99 again to
compare the two, but the two are almost incomparable to say the
least. For anyone who is a fan of soccer I strongly would advise
holding off on Puma Soccer. Puma should be a little bit more
careful on what they put their name on, and should have play
tested the game first before signing over their name. If you’re a fan
of the street soccer scene in Europe (there isn’t one here in the US)
you might be tempted to checkout Puma soccer. But for those of us
who just enjoy the green grass, the huge crowds and the
occasional soccer riot, stick to Fifa 99.