Pure Futbol Review

By Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 09, 2010

Ubisoft's Pure Futbol is a 5-on-5 street soccer game that hits just in time for the World Cup. You'd be forgiven for looking at the box amidst footy fever, but you'd find few sympathizers if you decided to pick up this uninspired cash-in.

The Pros
  • Seems like a sound game in writing
  • Authentic jerseys and rosters from several top nations
The Cons
  • Broken gameplay mechanics sap fun out of experience quickly
  • Teammate A.I. is dirt-dumb, while opponent A.I. cheats like crazy
  • Slapdash presentation, from bland locales to every player's British accents

It seems that crafting a street soccer game is significantly harder than it appears. Throughout the years, gamers have been treated to plenty of attempts to capture the beautiful game as it’s played all over the world (read: the way basketball is played Stateside). Most of them have ended in failure, or at best, a passable diversion you picked up after a price drop (FIFA Street 3, Mario Strikers Charged). Add Ubisoft Vancouver’s Pure Futbol to the former, not the latter. Amidst a month of footy fever, it’s a cash-in designed to nab the casual soccer fan. Don’t be fooled by its wiles.

How It “Works”

Pure Futbol’s arcade-style approach to 5-on-5 soccer is cut from a similar cloth as FIFA Street. It features cartoonish versions of real-life players from several national teams, including powerhouses such as Brazil, Spain, and England as well as non-World Cup heavy hitters like Croatia and Turkey. However, there are conspicuously missing big names like Drogba and Sneijder. They’ll play in rather ordinary recreations of different European locales, like a Milanese factory, a Madrid bullfighting ring, and a Marseilles port.

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Gameplay follows a similar standard seen in other streetball games. You accumulate Pure Points by pulling off stylish flourishes -- on-the-ball trickery or hitting the sweet spot for a goal shot.  Most of the gameplay is dependent upon a pop-up meter (similar to Mario Strikers Charged) that indicates the accuracy of your shooting, aerial passing, and through ball passes. If you can hit the flashing white pure spot on the meter (red, of course, means a bad move and green is accurate), you’re more likely to set up a big play. Pure Futbol takes a different tack for defense. You defend by tapping one of the shoulder triggers a la FIFA 10, and slide tackles are counted on a foul meter. No matter where you are on the field, a few mistimed sliding tackles will give your opponent a penalty kick.


You take those skills to the next level in campaign, in which you take a created player and user-generated club to take on the world’s finest. As you hit certain requirements in each match (score two Pure goals, prevent the opponent from taking more than six shots on goal), you’ll unlock more recruitable players from each nation and build up your Pure Point tally. Eventually, you can sell your players online for a ridiculously high amount of Pure Points.

Dirty Tackles, Studs Up

Everything about Pure Futbol sounds perfectly fine on paper. When you fire the game up, the problems become evident from the tutorial. For starters, every player, from Francophonic Ivorians to Italians to Turks, all speak with the same guttural British accent. At least FIFA Street 3 had a recording budget for “I’m open, pass me the ball!” in several tongues. Secondly, while the game emphasizes flashy moves, such as setting up aerial passes to a teammate and him hitting the right spot on the Pure meter for a gorgeous goal. The problem is in the execution. The passing mechanics feel clunky and sloppy. The meter is passable for simple shooting, but is nothing you haven’t already seen in other games. Factor in a system that requires you to both move and target your available teammates with the left stick, and it’s a recipe for disaster.


In any soccer game, defense is as important as offense, and far too many games overlook the importance of breaking down a white-hot attack. In Pure Futbol, a simple strafe and tackle maneuver doesn’t work the majority of the time. You’re more likely to get smoked by a striker doing a perfectly normal takedown than you’re successful in regaining possession. It’s even more insulting that the foul meter is so broken that your best defensive option -- sliding tackles -- will shoot up the meter into penalty zones within two to three moves. In other words, the defense is broken and grossly imbalanced, and even if you turn off the foul meter in options, it doesn’t make the game much more fun.

Two Yellows Equals A Red Card

The A.I. annoys on two extremes: your teammates are arguably as stupid as the average footballer on Jeopardy! and the opponent A.I. cheats like it’s paying off the refs. On offense, your teammates will occasionally drift into open space, but rarely are they smart enough to go on a run and make themselves available. On defense, they’ll often step in the wrong direction and leave the goalkeeper vulnerable to rocket shots. You’ll have to do nearly all of the heavy lifting to get the ball into the net. In comparison to the A.I. seen in other street games, it’s inexcusably bad.


On the other side of the spectrum, your opponents will effortlessly win slide tackles with no buildup on the foul meter and they’ll juke through two to three of your clumsy teammates en route to goal. It’d be one thing if the controls were responsive enough to fight them off, but more often than not, if you score first against a higher-ranked team, they’ll “miraculously” equalize within 30 seconds as your defense lies impotent. It’s grossly imbalanced, and frankly, I turned the game off at one point before I could get any angrier. My controller’s more expensive than the game and too valuable to spike over this.

You would be forgiven for checking out Pure Futbol’s case at your local game store. After all, soccer games typically pick up a new wave of curious gamers every four years amidst the spectacle of the World Cup. However, given its number of problems, from broken mechanics to horrific AI to its slapdash presentation, you wouldn’t find much sympathy should you decide to endure it. Pure Futbol is an ugly depiction of the Beautiful Game.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?