Features & News
Beta Impressions: Big Match Striker
August 27, 2010, Author: Phil Ubee
Big match striker is a new, free to play, online football game from Super Massive Games. It marries Football Manager with a Saturday night in the pub with your mates then throws in a sprinkle of Pub Quiz and a dash of Bragging rights. It backs all that up with a solid forum structure and coats it all with a classic Roy of the Rovers style comic book sheen.
Now moving into the “Open Beta” stage of development the game is available for anyone to sign up and start playing and that is exactly what I have done.
At the start of the game you have a small decrepit ground, a bog standard kit, very few fans and no players. Although not all the features are unlocked yet, the idea is to build all of these individual elements of your club by being successful on the pitch. You begin with pre-season friendlies before progressing on to a Little League, if you are successful at this level the Big League will follow. Games take the form of a quiz; you select short or long passes then answer the following question correctly quicker than your opponent to make that pass. When you’re in range, these options change to shoot with the outcome again decided on getting the question right.
The team in possession select the pass or shot type and with it get an “advantage” this is an amount of time whereby only the team in possession can answer. The advantage period is shorter for the long pass/shoot option to represent the lower accuracy you would associate with the ball travelling the longer distance. On top of this you get “free passes” the number of which are decided by the strength of your attack compared to your opponents defence.
Here lies my first potential gripe with the game set up. As you begin with no players in your squad (but can still play matches) it doesn’t take much for someone who has played a few games to gain a massive advantage. Sign just three or four players and you will soon have ten free passes a game to your opponents none. Now admittedly you have to earn the ability to perform the free pass by building up a game meter but it does mean that one correct answer can get you a shooting chance if used correctly.
Each question gives you a choice of four answers assigned to your arrow keys. Although you have the advantage period it pays to answer questions as quickly as possible as your away games are played in your absence and your question history will play the game for you, meaning that the better your history the more chance you have of taking the points. Should your opponent answer the question correctly before you they will take possession. If neither side answer correctly then possession becomes loose and a 50-50 question follows. In these situations there are only two answers and no advantage, the first team to answer correctly take possession of the play.
Questions are hugely varied ranging from historical International records to last weekend’s League Two results and, although I have seen a few cases of repetition, this is not normally the case. Games last around ten minutes and generally have a good flow to them.
You are usually given two to four days to play a fixture and failure to do so will result in a 0-4 defeat, it is a tough schedule as you can have up to four fixtures open to play at any one time and each home game will use up six Stamina. You will need to manage your matches correctly to allow enough time for your stamina to replenish naturally or a visit to the shop to buy some more will be needed to avoid regular 0-4 defeats.
In the front end of the game you have a collection of menus where you can manage your club. There is a Kit Editor and a Stadium Editor (currently locked) to view and edit these two areas, the Shop, where you can buy players or Stamina which is used only to play your home matches, and then an Achievements area to see any prizes unlocked in your matches.
As I alluded to earlier the graphical feel throughout is very much one of a comic book with bold colours and square jawed centre halves. It really does throw me back to my childhood where I would run to the shops at the weekends to get my latest fix of the legend Roy Race and his Melchester Rovers. The in match animations are displayed in this same comic strip fashion and look good, with the front end menus being easy to follow and continuing the shine and polish while keeping you informed of your clubs progress.
Within the menus you have background music playing which is a fairly varied mix of vocal tracks and during the match a voice over follows each question with an “Alan Partridge” style one liner. I have to be honest and say that although a few of these did have me chuckling away to myself, the number of sound bites at this stage is much lower than that of questions and they do become repetitive quite quickly. They do fit in with the style of the game though and overall are a welcome addition.
Being a Beta it is fair to say that there have been some teething problems with the game, for example the sound bites don’t always match up to what is happening on the pitch. There have also been issues with the game not loading at all or players getting to the start of a match but then not being able to play, resulting in a 0-4 home loss. However, with the website behind the game and the forums that are a big part of this, the issues are well known and progress to resolve them has been fairly good to date.
On top of the forums and help pages the main website also has a news feed which has all the latest football stories from around the country, keeping you up to date on the sort of topics you may find yourself questioned on in your next match.
There are a few issues that still need to be ironed out before the game goes live in September but even without all the features unlocked, the early signs are fairly good for Big Match Striker. The website alone has a good deal to offer football fans and it is nice to see that in an era where we tend to get only the same few big franchises repeated year after year, Super Massive Games have dared to come up with something new and different. Time will tell if they manage to pull it off.
You can sign up to join in at www.bigmatchonline.com