Sensible Soccer 2006 PS2 Review

Ever since Codemasters announced the return of Sensible Soccer it has been an exciting time in the football genre. If you wanted an alternative to the two big ones or have been disillusioned at the painstaking realism of recent football games, then the return of the adored series is sure to be worth lacing your boots up for.

Sensible Soccer 2006 is a no frills version of the sport, which means little regard for realism and no expensive licences (an edit feature does allow you to spend hours correcting the player and team names if you are that way inclined). Make no mistake about it, this is still very much a footy game but unlike Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA it’s a series that has never had a reputation for being a serious representation of the sport and errs towards a more pinball-esque on the pitch game.

You just have to take a gander at the screens to know that Sensible Soccer is going to play very differently from anything else on the market right now. The players are pint-sized and cel-shaded with comical large heads, and the helicopter like vertical view gives you an ideal of the pitch. The graphics may look remarkably simple, but there’s a distinct charm and a pick-up-and-play appeal that makes you forget how primitive things actually are. We still have got to wonder if something couldn’t have jazzed the graphics up slightly, a fiery ball trail following powerful shots for example, as viewed from a distance, things just don’t look all that great. It’s all cute enough though.

Matches are all about quick fire passing, and witnessing the ball sail across the pitch with a lively enthusiasm is something that is worth its weight in gold. It’s not about realistic physics or anything like that, as Sensible Soccer actually has more in common with ice hockey then its football source material. The footy rules are all there, but realism has been shown the door via a studded boot up the behind.

Sensible Soccer is a game in which anyone can get straight into thanks to genius and intuitive controls. Taking shots at goal, crossing into the area, kicking the ball up field, tackling, sprinting and passing are all possible utilising only three buttons. Shots and crosses are both performed with a single button press thanks to the artistic touch of a 360 directional arrow, which shows where the ball is set to travel (the arrows can be turned off if you are feeling skilful). Dispossessing foot-in-tackles meanwhile simply entails walking into your ball carrying opponents, whilst football law means that a saving slide tackle is also in your arsenal of actions, although sometimes we did wonder if it was really that necessary. After playing a couple of matches the controls feel remarkably instinctive, making the game an absolute triumph in its ease of play.

You can’t even switch to different players during matches here, which leaves the AI to do a serviceable job. An option to manually switch wouldn’t have gone amiss as the system in place isn’t always reliable, but we only found it to be an occasional problem and nothing game breaking as others have suggested elsewhere.

Sensible Soccer may be simple to play, but it’s not without something to master, as an aftertouch system gives you some great leeway in scoring some fabulous goals that would shame even the Brazilians for pure class. You haven’t lived until you score a scorcher of a goal that curls past the keeper in such an exaggerated fashion that a smile may forever be plastered on your face. It’s pretty easy to apply aftertouch, but scoring a beautiful crafty goal is another thing.

There’s lots to do (leagues, cups, custom team building etc), lots to unlock and a load of entertainment for a measly £24.99 (or £17.99 on etc), but admittedly the game does have a disappointing side to it. The keepers sometimes suffer from missing frames of animation for instance, which makes them look like teleporting magicians. If you decide to keep the arrows turned on during matches the keeper is also given an advantage during penalties, as the arrow is a giveaway of where the striker is intending to place the ball. Surely an option to turn the arrow off during penalties would have made more sense opposed to having to turn it off altogether.

It’s such an endearing experience that we would feel like we were doing the game a disservice to continue complaining about mostly trivial things, as it’s a game that was obviously made on a restricted budget. There’s nothing overbearing enough to deny us of saying that Sensible Soccer 2006 is a very playable and approachable alternative to the likes of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer.