Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Just in time for the World Cup comes Stickman Soccer 2014, not to be confused with another Stickman sports series. The gameplay decently straddles the line between accessible and deep, but what surprises most is the lack of personality.
For you fellow Americans who don’t know how soccer works, just pass the ball and kick it in the goal. Also, play as one of the dozens of other countries since their stats are probably better. Joking aside, Stickman Soccer is straightforward enough that casual fans can easily pick it up. But that’s almost the source of its problems. Players can choose to use a virtual joystick along with two buttons that change if they have the ball or not. However, since virtual joysticks are rarely ideal players can also choose automatic mode where the team moves on its own and players just control passing and shooting. The latter option is definitely less frustrating, but it can also lead to long stretches where the game essentially plays itself - especially on defense. Plus, streamlined controls applied to a pretty mundane soccer simulator, not some crazy arcade game, make the overall experience slightly dull. This leaves the game in a strange limbo between too casual for hardcore players and not exciting enough for casual players. Part of that is also due to the generic art style. The Stickmen themselves are cute enough, but staring at a screen full of their nondescript bodies in vaguely different team colors lessens the charm.
But if players can look past the boring visuals and find a control scheme that works for them, which is possible, they’ll find Stickman Soccer 2014 has a lot to offer. Modes are limited at first, but as players win more matches/watch more ads they’ll unlock new seasons and tournament types with different lengths and elimination rules. Beyond standard matches, players can also try out beach and street soccer or play a few rounds of the penalty kick minigame. There are only so many different ways to play soccer, but these modes give the game some of fun, arcade variety it could’ve used a little more of. Plus it’s hard not to get pumped-up listening to the peppy, trumpet-filled menu music.
Stickman Soccer 2014's issues sound more severe than they really are. It’s a little bland and the controls might not be for everyone, but the actual soccer is solid enough to keep it all together.