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Backyard Soccer MLS Edition (Windows)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Mr. Eight-Three-One (1414)
Written on  :  Jan 03, 2014
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
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Summary

If you took the original Backyard Soccer and made it a sell-out, this would be the result

The Good

You probably remember my opinion on the original Backyard Soccer and how I felt it was a weak entry in the Backyard Sports series. Everything about this game just screams "sell-out," especially when you consider the fact that this is the only game in the entire series that had the gall to put the major sports league right on the title. But since we're in the positive section, we'll get to that in a minute.

Much like Baseball 2001, this game updates the original with the Major League Soccer license. MLS is a pretty overlooked league in America as far as I am concerned, but we get fifteen professional players and all the pro teams to choose from. And, like the rest of the series, the made-up teams are still there if you want them.

If I do have one positive thing to say about the professional players, it's that they weren't overdone in this game and thus they have the same cartoon-like designs that the Backyard kids have, unlike the incredibly generic looking pros in Baseball. Some of them also have actual personalities.

The menu also got the same navigation bar overhaul that Baseball 2001 got. Aside from that, I really can't think of a whole lot of changes made from the original game. You know you're in trouble when the positives end here.

The Bad

So, why do I say the pros are sell-outs in this game? Take a look at the packaging on this very site. They hog up a ton of the advertising and the Backyard kids get completely shoved aside. I know Baseball 2001 did this too, but it made quite a few changes to the formula so I was willing to forgive it. Here, it's painfully obvious they're only in the game for marketing, with almost no changes to the original formula at all.

The seasons in this game are just as monotonous as ever, with the same 3-division system. The only difference here is that you now get to pick a home field that you will play on for your games. I know exactly what you're thinking: Didn't you just say this was a serious improvement in Baseball 2001? Unfortunately, that game is in a completely different league (no pun intended) than this one. You see, Baseball '97 had you playing on the same field for all 14 games, with no divisions to go through, so that improvement was necessary. Here, you go through three divisions that have different tiers of fields for each one, meaning on all away games, you will play one of the division specific fields, as in YOU ARE THE ONLY TEAM IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE WHO HAS A HOME FIELD. It works alright in the first division, where you're playing only on Parks Department fields. In the second in third divisions when you are playing on high school and college fields though, it's extremely jarring to see Playground Commons again. Since they have three fields per division, there was enough variety without needing a home field, so the change ultimately hurts the game.

Oh, that's not even the worst part. Just like Baseball 2001, they eradicated the awards for winning a season. Except in this game, it's an even bigger crime; Mr. Clanky was simply a secret in Baseball, but he was usable from the very beginning whether you knew it or not. In Soccer, he was a legitimate unlockable character. Here, you don't get Mr. Clanky at all for winning a season. I'm dead serious. His data is in the game, how hard would it have been to make it possible? Also, there is still no credit sequence for winning.

The Bottom Line

If you absolutely must play a Backyard game about Soccer, I'd choose the original over this one in a heartbeat. There are almost no changes to the core gameplay made to this one, and the changes that were made hurt the game. On its own it isn't too bad of a game and I suppose it wouldn't be a huge loss if you had this one instead, but I still say the original is the superior game.