Balls! One day a football game is going to arrive in the post that finally gets it right. Until then we’ll just have to reminisce back to the good old days of Sensi soccer or look forward to the up-and-coming Actua Soccer 2. 4-4-2 adheres to the welltrodden theory that simplicity works best. In fact, there are only three buttons to worry about while playing; one for kicking, one tackling and a useful speedup button.
But as a wise old Indian once said (probably), simple isn’t always best. You’d think that because of the uncluttered ‘sticky ball’ control system 4-4-2 would really flow, but alas, the slowdown is utterly deplorable, especially after the goalie kicks the ball up-field.
This crippling shortcoming is doubly unforgivable when you look at how small and sparsely detailed each player is. You can barely make out the glorious colours of Leeds United from any of the seven camera settings. The stadium view makes the players look like ants and consequently makes the game unplayable.
On a lighter note, the kicking system is pretty good, in that you can pass, shoot or chip with one button (including volleys and overhead kicks) a la Sensi and the overall pace of the game is pretty good. The time that you keep the button pressed generally determines shot strength and how high and far it travels.
Scoring can be a bit easy though, thanks to the sprint button, which enables you to round the goalkeeper 80% of the time. Options-wise, there’s everything you could expect, including Cups, Custom Cups and Leagues for both internationals and domestic squads; there are even a few domestic European squads thrown in for good measure.
But the overriding feeling with 4-4-2 is one of a fleet-footed yet flawed game that plays reasonably well if you can forgive its many faults, but ultimately relegates itself to the third division of footy games. Near the bottom. About where Darlington are in fact.