FootLOL: Epic Fail League…let that name sink in for a moment. FootLOL: Epic Fail League.
I’ve been playing video games for a long, long time and that title alone is easily one of the worst ones. It is enough to make me cringe. It’s the sort of title that is conjured up in long meetings in a dark conference room where marketing executives try to relate to teenagers in a battle to sound modern and ultimately, relevant. For how bad the title is, the game itself isn’t that bad, in fact it's enjoyable and outright insane in short bursts. I guess this is the part where I insert something about covers and books.
Developed by Herocraft, FootLOL: Epic Fail League is a title currently up on Steam Greenlight with a full release available on Herocraft's website. The premise is as simple as it gets: Put the ball into the net to score, and score often. It attempts to bring the craziness of NFL Blitz or MLB Slugfest into the realm of soccer but replaces the flaming athletes, body slams and elbow drops with land mines, cows, glue, and airplanes. There's no need to have a thorough knowledge of soccer in order to understand the game. There's no coorelation to the sport of soccer except for how it takes place in a stadium, on a grassy field with two goals on each end of said stadium.
It’s all paced well, as the items at the player’s disposal quickly take a turn for the abstract, though it always remains possible for the player to become oriented with at least the bare essentials to win. Shield and mine your way throughout the shallow single player campaign that acts more as a tutorial than anything, unlocking more items and very basic strategies that don’t make all that much of a difference. Beating matches, at least near the beginning are more or less all the same: the player must outscore the opponent, with stipulations thrown in for meeting specific criteria in the score at some point in the match. Beating other teams isn’t all that difficult, which is to say that the AI is absolutely useless in most, if not all cases.
Sure, on occasion the AI has their own tools and tricks up their sleeves in order to deter your progress in beating the match, but you never get the feeling that the AI ever works against you. The players on either team only direct the soccer ball towards the goal, then run towards it, so the developer attempted to make things interesting by making the player turn on either team in order to make a certain goal. On matches in which you must beat a team by however many points, it’s entirely possible to crash through the level, beat the opponent five or ten to zero and be done with it…though you won’t earn as much money as you possibly can on that certain level. There are other instances where the game throws at the player a specific score that must be met before the game can end and the winner is decided, which offers the possibility of beating a team so badly, mostly by the poor AI on both sides, that the game fails the match for you. There's a need for challenge in a video game, that's what holds the attention of the player, after all, but when the challenge is based off of punishing the player for...well...playing too well, it's incredibly frustrating.
In order to create an incentive to beat each level, the developer added in an in game cash shop where the player takes their winnings and uses it to buy upgrades and customizations for the player’s team. To earn more money throughout the game, the player must complete arbitrary goals set at random by the game. The goals are never mind melting, simply match the score the game gives you to earn the money. Because the goals are set at random, some goals set are just about impossible. The time limit for matches aren’t exactly endurance runs, in a match I was playing against Canada I had two minutes to beat them. After beating a dozen or so teams beforehand, boredom sunk in and the urge to beat some of the extra goals began to surface. One goal in particular was to let the opposing team score six times while only scoring three on them. Seeing that as absolutely impossible to accomplish, I restarted the match, to find that I was now playing against India with a goal of letting them score two goals to my one. Everything is random at all times, and it can trivialize the game when the player has the ability to simply reset a match with no repercussions. The locales change as you progress through the game, but not much else, save for the addition of new abilities.
Everything feels so shallow because of this, nothing hooks the player in for hours on end, instead serving as a timewaster for a few minutes before finding something else to do. Seeing as this game is available on mobile phones that would be the ideal platform to play while waiting for a flight or bus. A peculiar enjoyment can be earned with the insane powerups alone, and the soccer field provides the player with a playground to throw them all about. That enjoyment is fleeting, as the fact you're tackling brain dead AI will quickly settle in and difficulty, aside from the arbitrary bonuses, is nullified.