Kick Off Revival Review

I remember the days of yore, the King of the soccer games wasn’t FIFA, nor was it PES! It was Kick Off! Dino Dini had created a game so pure it perfectly captured the essence of the beautiful game…well before any of that unpleasant FIFA corruption stuff!

KOR.jpg

Released in 1990 ‘Kick Off 2’ was the pinnacle of the series and Dino Dini’s programming career! Shortly after ‘Kick Off 2’ he left the publisher Anco and made ‘Goal!’. While it was decent enough game using the same gameplay style, it lacked the staying power of ‘KO2’ and was superseded by the vastly superior ‘Sensible Soccer’.

After a dreadful reboot in 2002 it seemed that the ‘Kick Off’ series was dead and buried…

…how I wish it was!

For those of you who aren’t old farts like I am, ‘Kick Off’ was a top down, physics-based football game, the ball . Think ‘Rocket League’ without the cars and you are on the right track.

During my first game I had that wonderful warm feeling of nostalgia. However that soon passed and left me with the realisation that ‘Kick Off Revival’ is, in no uncertain terms, a dreadful game. I can see the entire thought process behind this game, and I fully respect the vision – but it does nothing other than serve as a reminder of how far the medium has come since the 16-bit era.

By now the original ‘Kick Off’ is 28 years old and here we have a game that relies so heavily on its design that the term”dated” doesn’t even begin to describe how this game feels and plays. It’s nothing though when we consider the choices made during development of the title – some of these are borderline insane!

dino_dini_guide_1

when modern games are too complicated, go retro…

Lets begin with the controls; it uses a ‘1-button system’ which sounds simple enough – yet Dino had to release four (yes you read that right FOUR) flow charts to explain exactly how the controls work…

…why they didn’t program a tutorial is beyond me. It would’ve been infinitely more useful than those charts and it would’ve given players a chance to practice what they were told. ‘KOR’ tells the player nothing! It expects you to figure this out yourself; it’s a tremendous oversight. In fact the lack of any instructions instantly puts the game at a disadvantage that is as needless as it is careless.

Next up is what has been omitted from the game – in interviews before release Dino stated that he wanted to concentrate on the “experience on the pitch” but he has botched the fundamentals. There is a preoccupation that the “ball doesn’t stick to the players feet” but instead relies on physics to dictate the path it takes (like Rocket League), and while this is old-skool and true to KO heritage, it means that games are almost impossible to play! Miniscule movements of the analogue stick makes the ball pings away in a seemingly random direction and power, passing is even more difficult to learn (let alone master) and shooting is just as bad; although shooting does have an awesome after-touch.

dino_dini_guide_2

…what?!.

Games of football become one-touch pass stuff because you have zero confidence in this control scheme. While this works a little better there are some major AI failings at work – your players have no positional sense and will wind up in random positions all the time. A defender will be loitering on the halfway line or a striker on the left-wing. There is a mini map to help with this it is not enough. If we also consider that your goalkeeper will automatically hoof the ball to the halfway line every time it all adds up to mean that tactical play is impossible because you cannot predict where a player will be at any given time.

On top of all this there is the issue of slide tackling. First off slide tackles are just diabolical, players will slide across the pitch with a laser precision; the only time in the game precision is even a thing, and give away a free kick every time. EVERY TIME! It is incredibly frustrating because it leaves you powerless to dispossess the opponents. This is exacerbated by the fact that they have God-tier ball control while you give the ball up during simple turns. Slide tackling is not an option here (ironically like the modern game) and it kills any notion of a flowing game…

dino_dini_guide_3…thankfully though you won’t be seeing players being sent off. Or booked. Because for some reason, these were deemed superfluous to the game and are not in the current build (1 week after release). Words fail me. This is the equivalent of making a golf game but not rendering any clubs…

Visually and aurally the game looks and sounds exactly as you remember it, unfortunately that mean’s that it is flat-out ugly and sounds like your Commodore used to. I actually had to mute my TV three minutes into my first game and leave it off every time I’ve played it.

I cannot be bothered talking about the numerous bugs present because I’ve spent more than enough words on this game so conclusion incoming…

…I know some of you reading this will say “gid gud” and perhaps you’re right – but I feel that the payoff is just not worth it. Yes it has its moments when your moves come off and you score a worldy but they are few and far between; and feel like accidents (and probably are) rather than design. Yes it has a robust and incredibly stable multiplayer in place. But when the core game-play is this bad none of this really matters – this is the worst type of game; one rushed to coincide with a major event and I hope it’s the last of its kind.

There is absolutely nothing here to recommend; which is damn disappointing! It’s not often a game comes round at £7.99 but still feels as though it’s priced too high; ‘Kick Off Revival’ is one such game.

2/10

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