Not every football (or soccer, in North America) game is super realistic sim that allows you to take over almost every major club or player from around the world. Not every football game is even about football.
Enter the very poorly named FootLOL. FootLOL is a bit like Football Manager if Football Manager was made by someone completely out of their minds. You don’t lead your team to victory with superior tactics, player management and inspired decisions. You lead them to victory with land mines, artillery and stampeding cows.
In FootLOL, you are tasked with selecting and deploying the various weapons and power-ups for your team in a game. The actual match is contested by your AI-controlled team. You just intervene when necessary.
While all the power-ups are kind of funny at first, it does tend to get a bit grating right around the time that you realize how broken the AI is. As long as you try even slightly, you should win massively. Even though your keeper is a sieve and your forwards can’t hit a bull in the ass with a shovel full of peas, you don’t have to worry much about trying to win because the AI is pathetically easy.
In order to keep you from winning by double digits in every match, the game does more than have you score the most goals to win. There are cash bonuses for reaching a specific score at some point during the game. Some matches have a victory condition of the game ending on a certain score for it to end successfully. Considering how little control you have over your players, these goals can be a bit frustrating though it is a bit funny to blow up your own players.
Unfortunately, while the game will tell you what power-ups the AI has before a match, it will never tell you what the victory conditions are for your next match. Sometimes, that means that you have to achieve your goals in a makeshift way. It’s an unintentional way of making you more hands-on and active in gameplay. You have to think it through very quickly and adapt to the circumstances sprung upon you if you want to succeed in those games.
For me, the most of the interesting parts of this game happen off the pitch. I’m most interested in the game when I’m planning counters for AI power-ups, selecting how many of each power-up I want and which permanent skill increases (such as speed and accuracy) I want to buy. That’s about as close to Football Manager as FootLOL comes.
While the selection and tactical deployment of your power-ups is key to your success, the same can’t be said for the opposition. They have unlimited use of power-ups. I found this out in a win by five goals match that carried on over 10 minutes because I ran out of power-ups but the AI was spamming its regular programmed series of goal-blocking Protoss forcefields until they mounted a comeback from four down to win. GG well played, programmers.
I’ve gone all this way without mentioning the game modes. There’s the single-player world tour campaign mode in which you progress from level to level with the objective of reaching the end. There’s the quick match mode that lets you pick game type (times, to a set score, win by five) but the custom match option doesn’t actually allow you to custom create your match. And there’s multiplayer which is multiplayer.
My biggest issue with this is that all your unlocks and purchases apply to all three modes. It would be nice for quick match to have everything unlocked as a sort of single player arcade mode. That’s what quick match is in every other sports game I’ve played in the first place. Multiplayer could get unbalanced quickly if you’ve maxed out on your purchases and skills and you go up against a noob who only has a couple of unlocks or vice versa.
From a technical standpoint, it’s a game by mobile game developers who also have a mobile version of this game in the works. I think that the mobile game was the lead platform on this because none of the assets are particularly outstanding. The visuals and audio are about what you would expect for a game designed by a mobile game company.
It would have been nice if some effort was put into the PC port. The graphics options is a button that’s not labelled. Click it and it goes blurry which I assume means lower graphics options. Resolution options don’t seem to matter because the game just does its thing. There aren’t any tool tips so you don’t know what anything does until you click on it. The first time in a play session that you open a menu in the pre-match setting, such as achievements or power-up selection, the game stops for about 15 to 20 seconds. It’s a bit of a mess.
Having gone through all that, you’d expect me to just slam it with the final score. However, it’s not without its charm. I went longer playing this game than I have with Goat Simulator. I didn’t get bored with it as quickly as Goat Simulator. Sure, when the novelty finally wore off, it wore off quickly but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be funny and charming.
The biggest problem that this game has is that some of its mobile game design traits don’t translate to the PC very well. The polish that one would expect from a PC indie game isn’t quite there. The slow unlocks of power-ups and purchases, the lack of an options menu and the non-existent AI are things I would expect from a free-to-play mobile game. Even though it’s only a $5.00 PC game on Steam, I would have liked something with a bit more substance.
If it wasn’t for the lack of polish on the move from your phone to your PC, I would have said that the worst thing about FootLOL is the name. I get what they did there and it makes sense. It’s just not a name that I would ever want to say out loud… Or type several times in a short time span.
With a couple of simple improvements like an intelligible menu design, tool tips, an actually customizable custom match feature and competent AI opposition, this game could easily have been a good game and scored a 7+ out of ten on our scale. I like what it could be with a little work, I’m just not compelled by what it is right now and I don’t rate games on their potential.
Still, for $5.00 you could certainly do worse.
FootLOL: Epic Fail League was reviewed on Windows PC. There is a mobile version of the game available now or coming soon on Mac OS X, iOS and Android but I can’t find a straight answer on if the game is currently available on those platforms. Your impressions my differ depending on platform played on, PC specs and how many times you can blow up a goalkeeper with landmines before it gets old.