Foosball, or Table Football to many, isn’t quite as popular in the UK as it is in the US, but despite that you’ll still find tables in various pubs and student union bars across the country. Tapping into a previously ignored market, Grip Games have released Foosball 2012 onto the PS3 (with Move support) and Vita, giving gamers a chance to play both versions for a single purchase. But could it be that there’s a very good reason why there aren’t any other Foosball games on the market?
The first thing to think about here is what’s on offer. This is Foosball, and it’s not going to have the lush stadiums or intricate player models that you’ll find in a FIFA game. You’re getting a table, some little dudes on poles and that’s about it. The general idea is to move these guys side to side, and with a flick of the wrist ping the little football into the other player’s goal. There’s the odd occasion when the ball might fly off and land on someone’s pint, but that sadly hasn’t made it into the game.
Instead, you’ve got a fairly simple control system that lets you move the players with the left stick, and use the right stick to spin the players and make them kick. Some extra special moves are available by using the face buttons, but these are unlocked little by little as you play through the single player tournaments. You can, if you wish, unlock them by buying them on the store (something that annoyed me here, as it annoyed me with Hustle Kings) but that’s an unnecessary expense when it doesn’t take too long to unlock most of them. The single player mode can get painfully tough as you press on, but games are usually close enough to warrant trying again and hoping for a lucky break.
As you’d expect, the Move controls work better than the controller, with the trademark (and still slightly unnerving) accuracy taking centre stage as you use your own movement to move and flick the players. Get two Move controllers ready and you can play a friend, giving a very enjoyable half hour together before your arm starts feeling like you’ve been painting a ceiling for a week. It’s definitely the way to play it.
As you play there’s quite a few things to unlock, including some funky ball effects and extra sets of players which range from metal bolts through to beefeaters and gangsters. They don’t do a fat lot apart from looking different, but when you go online it’s nice to be able to look a bit different to the other player. Yep, there’s online play as well. It’s a little bit mixed in terms of lag, with some games slightly more laggy than others, but we didn’t find it to be particularly game ruining. Either way, a patch is incoming which should fix the worst of it. Playing online lets you follow a ranking system which gives you more upgrades and new stuff too, so it’s worth having a bash and seeing what you win.
So where does this leave us? A passtime which is shallow and shortlived in real life doesn’t seem like ideal game fodder, but Foosball 2012 is actually pretty good. The music is awful and it can be very tough, but considering you get both versions for one purchase, it’s under 6 quid and is actually pretty good fun it’s tricky not to recommend it. Don’t expect Skyrim levels of depth and lastability, but get a mate round with a couple of Moves and you’ll see exactly what we liked about it. We can consider this gap in the market pretty well filled. Nice work, Grip Games.
Reviewed on PS3