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What It Means to be a Star… New Star Soccer 5 [Review]

If you’ve ever wanted to be an expert footballer, or rather, a celebrity footballer, New Star Soccer 5 is honestly the game for you. With the season recently having started, your team may not be doing quite as well as you would hope. For me, Arsenal’s case is especially dire at the moment, but I’ll spare you the details of the real footballing world in favor of NSS5‘s intoxicating virtual one.

New Star Games’ New Star Soccer 5 is a different breed of a football game. It’s not FIFA or Pro Evo Soccer in that you control all members of a team, all of its tactics, or whatever else. Rather, you take control of one player. How you choose to develop your player, personally and professionally, is entirely up to you — this creates just the right amount of tension and pressure for you.

Scoring goals in the game, given that you’re only in control of one player, is very difficult. The player will be rewarded for every completed pass, assist, goal, and tackle they manage to pull off in-game and — should you fail to impress during a match — your ranking and morale will indeed fall. Likewise, if you do extremely well, your ranking will rise and your player’s morale boost could show through in other areas of his career.

Whereas most football games are strictly about the football itself, NSS5 takes a surprisingly more human approach to the condition of being a celebrity soccer star. You have just as much to do outside of a match, if not more, as you do inside the match. When training your player, you must decide whether to train his feet, head, pace, control, flair, or otherwise. When attempting to be social, you must decide to choose between your friends and your teammates, which can often lead to difficult decisions (especially considering the fact if your teammates favor you, they’re more likely to pass the ball to you). Furthermore, you have to keep a keen eye on finances, ensuring to spend accordingly so as not to overstep your boundaries. That means you can go gamble at the casino with your teammates or friends, but be careful not to waste all your flow at the blackjack table — which I can tell you from personal experience, is just plain annoying to come back from.

It’s impressive that NSS5 has just about every team and country that you’d normally want to play as, although quite obviously player names are not thrown about as freely as they would be in FIFA or Pro Evo Soccer, given that that would require quite a bit of licensing and hoop-jumping to secure. But New Star Games never strove for perfect realism or unrivaled authenticity, it’s much more focused on creating a fun and deceivingly careless experience. It’s one of those games you don’t think you can get so into, but completing training session after training session, game after game, date after date, and so on, you won’t even realize how much time you’ve put in.

It comes with a fair amount of flaws, one most notable for me is the lack of control of the team which — albeit adds a sense of lone stardom — will often leave you frustrated after not being able to capitalize on opportunities and seeing your team’s ranking in the league drop. You can also nit-pick at the mini-games, for me the training sessions, which can become outright annoying when you’re not able to complete a certain session even after wasting your player’s energy and time with several attempts.

But what keeps NSS5 afloat is its overall charm. This is not a game that takes itself too seriously as a football simulator, but it proves to be an enjoyable effort with loads to do. In short, at only $20, it’s a ton of fun and is highly recommended for any soccer/football fanatic.

[New Star Games, New Star Soccer 5]