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SummaryGood one, but where's the Libero?
The GoodIt's an easy one to start talking about: the concept is very interesting, and for most time, well executed.Hard to believe that the idea of playing as only one player is still practically untouched, given most modern games can present a fairly decent AI. Kudos for Namco for this attempt. Gameplay is what can be expected from arcade games: quick to pickup, but hard to master. From some initial shameful defeats in easy to epic midfield battles in hard, the constant unlocking of star players are good incentives to keep practicing. And speaking of practice, there are a few training drill minigames to be played and high scores to be beaten. The reward? More players, of course. The training drills, while aren't as crucial as proper match experience, provide some help with dribbling and shooting.
Going back to gameplay, playing with just one player allows some interesting plays. You can try, for instance, to run up the wing, pass the ball to a forward and then dodge a defender and ask the ball for a clear shot on goal. Of course, the harder the difficulty setting, the harder combinations are to pull.
Graphics and sound are in par with the regular PSOne games, so nothing to argue here. Stadium design might be a little over the top for players used to more conventional games, but in the end, it doesn't detract from the experience.
The BadConsidering in most games the player is always in control of the most important player in action (and for a few time, EA forced the player to control a second one for some plays), for a game where the player is in control of just one element the AI has to be on its best, which is far from the truth. Defensively, your team-mates are unable to do anything than let attackers pass and shoot without opposition, and with the ball will rarely create any goal-scoring opportunity. Of course, you can shout them to pass the ball or tackle the ball-carrier, but that isn't properly AI, is it?
A second problem is the lack of playable positions - only two (attacking midfielder or right winger). I've purchased the game with the prospect of making glorious advances from box to box, but it only happens when the defenders are too thick to recover the ball, forcing the "star" to run a few yards away from midfield, and then run forwards with the ball with some quick passes to get unmarked. The ability to play as a wingback, striker or the play the title role (as defined by Franz Beckenbauer) would improve the game greatly, even for longevity issues.
The Bottom LineWell, you might end up not liking it, but the unique approach to the beautiful game warrants at least a quick peek at the game. While the first minutes can be a lot frustrating, as soon as the player notices that it's better to cover all of the field than to rely on the computer, games become more and more fun, and depending on the tolerance to the complacent AI it might become a strong contender for a few gaming sessions. Anyone looking for a deep simulation should try a different game - being based on an arcade game, Libero Grande lacks any modes that drag four hours and hours.
All and all, a rather good coin-up conversion with a very strong selling point, but offers little beyond that.