New Star Soccer 2 is a wonderfully unique and addictive shareware underdog about the life of a footballer. Arguably the world's first "footballer simulation," your goal in NSS2 is to become the best footballer on the planet - a refreshing change from all other football simulations that focus on team management. How do you become the best footballer? The official blurb says it all: "...[Your goal] will mean achieving the illustrious title of World Player of the Year and picking up many medals and trophies along the way. In order to achieve this goal you will need to make astute decisions in two key areas: building up your player abilities and dealing with relationships [italics mine]. To be the perfect footballer, you would need to have a maximum ability rating in all of the 14 different areas of your Abilities. Early on in your career though you will have to decide which of these abilities you want to build up first. Some players might want to balance their abilities equally whilst others might want to excel in particular areas. Think about the type of player you want to be and which abilities will serve you best and compliment each other. For instance, it's no good being the fastest player in the Premiership if you don't have any dribbling skills. |
The other area I mentioned is Relationships. You may think this sounds strange at first but having good relationships with the people around you is paramount to success. If you have a bad relationship with the manager, then you won't get picked for the team. If you don't have any friends, then loneliness will make you unhappy and will result in poor performances. There are many relationships to juggle and keeping everybody happy all of the time is perhaps your biggest challenge."
Similar to a typical football simulation, you make progress in the game by participating in various matches that your team plays, and try to improve your skills in the process. However, as this is simulation of a footballer's life and not his team, relationship management is just as important to your success. This innovative element makes the game a lot of fun, challenging, and constantly interesting - particularly since there are many "incidents" (events that are either random or scripted) that will force you to deal with situations that a footballer routinely faces. How you deal with the paparazzi, the media, and how you treat your girlfriend (or choose whether to have one at all and what type of woman you pick) has repurcussions on your reputation, relationship, and even football skills. When an incident happens, a screen will pop up that gives you a brief description of the situation and 2-3 choices on how to deal with it. The game always tells you the effect each choice will have, but it still remains challenging - and there may be other consequences that the game doesn't tell you. It's up to you decide what is most important at that particular time in your career, since not all choices are clear-cut "good" or "bad."
There are numerous entertaining touches, particularly relating to Relationship points, that make NSS2 a blast to play. Almost everything in the game is interconnected and has both advantages and disadvantages, which means you need to constantly evaluate your options and strike many balances. If you need more media attention (which naturally will help you strike more lucrative sponsorships), you can choose a "glamourous" type of girl to be your girlfriend. But her high-maintenance lifestyle may drain your wallet faster than you make money, driving you to gamble in the casino or horse-racing tracks (both of which are fun mini-games in their own right). If she is pushing you to the brink of bankruptcy, you can try dumping her - but be prepared for the consequences. Other relationships are just as important and will affect your perforamance on the pitch as well. For example, if you have a bad relationship with your teammates, they won't pass you the ball - and so you won't have any opportunity to show off that world-class flair.
With a wide variety of options, fun incidents, and a solid game engine, New Star Soccer 2 is the closest one can get to living a life of professional footballer. The game is shareware - you can play the first 10 matches for free, after which registration is required. Registration costs a measly US$10, which makes it one of the best "bang for your buck" shareware games I have seen in a long time. A keeper for every football fan, or anyone interested in a simulation of a professional athlete's life. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs