I’ll be honest with you all, I’m not a big Foosball player. I’m the guy who drops a ball in and hops around it like a buffoon spinning the bars like a madman trying to get the ball in on the other player’s side by sheer luck rather than skill because the other guy is amazed I’m still standing after my display at the table. I’m not a skill player by any means and while I see the appeal you’d find me at a pool table or clustered around Galaga waiting my turn than standing around the Foosball table. Foosball 2012 gave me a little hope because the way I played worked to a point and I could go nuts on the sticks if I wanted to make up for my lack of ball handling skills which I did work on to a degree in the game with limited success. Pro Foosball however is having none of that. This is a game designed for the person that values skill over insanity and if you think you’re going to be able to spin your way through a game and win you will be looking at a losing score almost every time. Then again the fun comes in with lesser gravity and a host of other options that kill the realism they were going for and yet I still don’t think this one is for everyone but at least tries to offer it. Let’s take a look.
You have a few options when you fire up the game. Kick About you can run up to four players using four controllers or the Move with this either way. There is no online multiplayer for this, all local only. Foos Championship puts you in a fifteen match season against an AI opponent with three levels of difficulty to choose from. Lastly Foos Madness lets you go wild and completely change up how the game deals with realistic physics and friction and even goes so far as to let you play with gravity, what the ball is made of or even the surfaces that hit the ball. If you need more practice and don’t want to get completely owned by the scorekeeper, head into the Skill Centre. They keep score there but it’s all made up and the points don’t matter.
Both visually and audibly the game isn’t all that impressive. The ball, players and table look decent enough, but the areas you play in aren’t all that impressive. The same held true though for the last Foosball game I reviewed. You don’t need this amazing looking game but you do need gameplay and that’s where the game delivers. I did like that you have the option of either doing split screen or full screen for your multiplayer and the venues and tables all at least have a very different flavor and look to them. So it does have that going for it. The audio does its job and gives the feel of playing the game but nothing really stands out to it. A number of times I played without sound at all so I could hear Skype while I played and it didn’t really change things either way.
You’ve got two control schemes with the controller for this, not including what Move options you’d have. I don’t have the Move so I can’t comment on controls with this one, but they’re responsive enough with the regular PS3 dual shock controller so it shouldn’t be an issue. Anyway, there’s the standard scheme that uses the face buttons for most of your play along with one of the analog sticks. The other scheme uses both analogs in a dual-stick set-up to control your players in pairs instead with either analog stick representing the active rods at your disposal. In both set-ups, the R1 does a shot right, the R2 doing a more precise shot to the right. The L1 and L2 buttons do the same for left shots. From there the standard controls are set for the left analog stick moving the active rod across the table. L3 fires off a 360 spin which isn’t as exciting as it sounds as it’s not very fast. You change your camera view using the triangle button repeatedly. X traps the ball for you and square will shoot it. The circle will pass the ball to an adjacent player on the same rod and also allows for trick shots. If the ball goes dead you can try shaking your controller to nudge the table but don’t do it too much or you’ll get a foul called on you.
The Dual Sticks set-up leaves the functions of the R1, R2, L1 and L2 intact and basically dumps all the rest of it into the two analog sticks giving you control over two rods, the left analog controlling the left active rod on screen and the right analog controlling the right active rod. All your passing, trick shots, kicks and otherwise get dumped into the analog stick movements. The dual analog was actually my preferred method but either takes some getting used to. One of the minuses of the game is that controls can only be changed in the main menu. Once you’re in a match you’re stuck with what’s active and if you’ve forgotten what does what in the main menu you have to pause an active match to see the set-up, you can’t just see this from the main options menu.
The game defaults to a score of five goals winning a match. You can change your team layout and difficulty level as well as ball type and venue for just stand-alone matches. I do like being able to change up your formation a bit and they are pretty standard layouts. I’ve seen a lot of different set-ups for actual foosball over the years and no two tables were ever the same. So having that option here is neat to see on top of the Foos Madness options if you decide to go wild with things and turn off gravity or play with all rubber surfaces.
While the game does allow for up to four players at a time, there is no multiplayer to be had online. Multiplayer is only within your own home and on your PS3. So that can limit your replay a bit with this but you can play against an AI opponent and there are trophies so there is a bit of replay value in this, especially for the price. At under seven dollars the game offers up a lot of features and options but I think the biggest issue is that even on a beginner difficulty the AI is going to be very unforgiving if you’re just getting used to the controls and how everything plays out. Well at least if you don’t get used to the controls quickly. I won my first trophy purely because I had no clue what I was doing and lost soundly to the AI on rookie difficulty.
We’ve had a Foosball game before, but this one does boast better overall physics and more precise control, but the previous one had options this one doesn’t and vice versa. I guess it’s what appeals more to you. This one is cheaper, the other worked on both the Vita and PS3. Personally I prefer the other as it appeals more to my play style, but this one has merits for rewarding players with more skill to them as opposed to people who just like to slam the ball around the table. While no online might kill this for some, it’s a cheaper alternative than buying a real table if you already have a Playstation 3.
I really had a hard time getting into this one. It’s not that it’s a bad game, just that it has a learning curve to it that I couldn’t seem to really get over. The controls don’t feel intuitive and the somewhat sloppy method of swapping which rod is active in the default control scheme was more than infuriating when I could have blocked a shot sooner rather than having my goal people pick it up. Add to that the alternate making it look easier and then taking the football away just like Lucy really didn’t win it any favors. There will be people who’ll pick this up right away and wonder what I’m smoking, but it felt like the game was talking to me in a language I didn’t understand when I’d move what I thought would get the sticks and the ball to where I could score and the opposite would happen. To say I played this in short bursts for review would be an under-statement. This isn’t to say this is a bad game by any means. It’s actually pretty well put together once you get the controls down, it’s just not the Foosball game for me.
There’s already been one Foosball game out within the last few years that kind of tackled all the angles except extreme precision which this one does do, but I think the other options you have available spice things up a bit. I think the bouncy ball, gravity options, and bumpy surfaces really add to the whole thing being a lot more fun and something I hadn’t seen in a Foosball game before which changes the whole game and how you play it even though they went for almost total realism in standard play. So while they put in the tried and true they did explore a bit with the wild side and that at least is something new.
I had a few issues with the game, not glitching out or anything like that, but the automated control that shifts what shafts are active is sloppy when you’re not using the dual analog control scheme. The ball, when you can get it to roll with any real speed, will be well past a usable shaft and into your territory before it catches up with which set of players you want active and the method to swap controls to the new stick isn’t fast enough. The result is a lot of missed opportunities to gain control of the ball and some sloppy goals you should have been able to block. Now the dual stick configuration has the problem of the person controlling the game to adjust for that as that swaps perfectly well and puts you right in where you need to be but you have to realize that you’ve just completely swapped sticks and need to adjust for that. It’s a decent idea for a set-up but just screams to be tightened up to be really useful, as it is though it can be frustrating playing without the dual stick option and takes a lot of adjustment to work the dual analog method with any real skill as you’ll look like you have no idea how to play for the first half hour you adjust to either scheme.
Short Attention Span Summary
Pro Foosball has a bit of a learning curve to it as far as controls go but is definitely aimed at people who take Foosball far more seriously than most. It’s based on controlling the ball and actually passing and is completely unforgiving to anyone who just likes to grab a stick, spin and pray. If you’re one of the spinners, like me, this isn’t a game designed for you even with some of the more wild options. This foosball game takes itself a bit more seriously and despite a few latency issues with the game swapping active sticks on you, is a more directed experience for those who wanted to see something more precise with their Foosball. There are options to go wild with the game by changing the materials and even gravity which opens this up a bit for more fun, but it really works well when you’re playing against other people and less against the AI.