GAME OF THE DAY: Some genres have struggled in the transition from TV to touchscreen. Football is not one of them.
Early efforts to bring football to smartphones focused on trying to concentrate the established console game model on the smaller, button-less screen. And sometimes it worked, too – X2’s First Touch Soccer was decent.
But the genre really flourished when developers stopped trying to emulate the two-decade old console design model and started to approach the genre from the perspective of the new generation of devices.
And now super-hits like Flick Kick Football and New Star Soccer have a new contender – the glorious Fluid Football.
On face value there are recognisable elements here, chiefly the overhead view pioneered by Sensible Soccer and Kick Off. But the way you play Fluid Football is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Tactical thinking is the name of the game here. Each level sees players tasked with scoring from a set piece. Individual footballers can be repositioned, told to pass the ball and be ordered to make runs.
The pace seemed ludicrously slow at first but it soon becomes apparent that it’s a deliberate and very necessary design decision that allows both for improvisation and for key decisions to be implemented as the gameplay pans out.
Things start easy – early levels give you three players, acres of space and just the goalie to beat. But the difficulty soon ramps up and before you know it you’re outnumbered by defenders, having to make dummy runs to draw them away and create space for others to run into.
Once you’re in space and on goal you’re taken to a Flick Kick Football style screen where you deliver that final shot. This is perhaps where the game falls down a little. It’s always a risk to emulate one of the best iOS titles ever made when your own system is far twitchier.
Each level also has a number of bonus objectives – score in the penalty area, make a minimum/maximum number of passes etc – for which extra points will be awarded.
Here’s where things can get a little awkward. These points can be spent on hints or solutions to some of the trickier scenarios. For three points you receive a detailed explanation from none other than Andy Gray. Yes, that Andy Gray.
Fluid Football is free to download but is supported with IAP. It’s not the cheapest game – it costs 69p to remove the ads and £2.49 to unlock all of the levels, but it’s well, well worth it.
The game is brilliant because it ignores rules and convention and offers a unique, fantastic experience that was specifically made of the device on which it’s being played. And it teaches about football, too. We’ve even heard hushed whispers from non-football fans who have enjoyed the game.
Fluid Football is an undoubted triumph for AppyNation and deserves the success it looks like it’s about to achieve.