Sociable Soccer 24 review: Back to basics

by MaddOx
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Regarding football games, I used to be a huge fan. However, modern games have taken things too far. I’m not just talking about all the in-game purchases to buy players for your team but making them overly technical. To the point where the fun has been taken out of playing them, because who wants to hit a ten-button combo to pull off a simple flick? And don’t start me on the unskippable celebrations. Anyway, enter Sociable Soccer 24.

Sociable Soccer 24 is a modern version of the classic arcade-style football games from the 90s. And part of the reason behind that is Jon Hare, the man behind the original Sensible Soccer from 1992. He decided he’d had enough of the likes of FIFA (now EA Sports FC) dominating the genre and wanted to bring back what it was like when football games were fun.

There is no over-complexity when playing Sociable Soccer 24. It’s almost as basic as video games come. However, that is where its charm lies. It’s as simple as sprinting, passing, and shooting. You can chip the ball too, but I’m yet to perfect that. Then in terms of defence, you just run at players head-on to tackle, or you can slide. But be wary, that usually ends with a card.

Sociable Soccer 24 in-game screenshot

I say usually ends because one of the cool parts of this game is that there are several different referees you can get. Each with its own cooky profile. You have the ones who are so blind they’d likely miss an onside goal for Luis Diaz against Spurs (still salty about that one, sorry). And on the other hand, some referees are a little stricter, and will hand out cards like every game is Christmas.

In terms of game modes, it’s a little basic, but what do you expect from an arcade-style game? There is a career mode, but I wouldn’t say it’s a proper career. Although you will play games throughout a ‘season’, this is no typical football league pyramid situation. Instead, work your way through tiered ranks, receiving points based on your results and difficulty, earning enough to help you climb the ladder.

During the season, you’ll get three types of games. First, standard games. You’ll play similarly ranked teams to try and get promoted. Then, you’ll have streak games. Essentially the same thing, because nothing changes. Each win just offers a chance to unlock a new player for your team, with better players available the longer you hold your streak.

Finally, you have Club Clashes. This is where the game pits two clubs against each other, with all players who have picked that club combining their overall results to form an actual league table of sorts. Think of it as a clan-based system, except it’s a fan-based system.

Sociable Soccer 24 career ranking

In addition to the career mode, you can also get a few other modes, from playing quick and simple friendly games to trying to compete for several legitimate trophies from around the world. You can play with friends, which is where the sociable part of Sociable Soccer 24 comes into it. However, on Switch, this is currently limited to playing on the same console. With an update to come to bring true online multiplayer mayhem.

The game times are nice and quick, lasting all but a few minutes for an entire game. I found this not only made it quick to progress through campaigns, but it was also incredibly easy to get lost in the game. You sit down for a quick game, and before you know it, you’ve played five or six.

When you find yourself in a game, changing tactics and making subs are incredibly easy. Tapping left or right on the left joycons d-pad will allow you to change formation. Down allows your manager to offer some words of encouragement. Pressing up will allow you to make substitutions if some of your players are getting tired of your high-energy attacking approach to gameplay. It’s not overly in-depth, but it’s enough to allow you to make quick, subtle changes.

Where Sociable Soccer 24 shines outside of the gameplay, is the fact it has secured FIFPRO licences for thousands of players. Team names won’t always be accurate, and it’s likely a potential reason for the style of career mode the game has because they don’t have team licenses. But, every player you see will be the players you’ve seen on TV, or been lucky enough to watch grace the pitch from the stands.

Sociable Soccer 24 Liverpool squad career mode

But while it is nice seeing real players in Sociable Soccer 24, some do feel overpowered, like Haaland. He seems to be able to score from anywhere on the pitch. If you play against him and he gets the ball, take him out, or he WILL score. Then other players, seem severely underrated, such as Liverpool’s Connor Bradley. Fortunately, even if they are ranked low during career mode, you can upgrade them by sacrificing other players of the same nationality or position. As well as earning EXP for putting a shift in during a match.

The one other main issue I found with Sociable Soccer 24, was that even on something like medium difficulty, the game is too easy. You stroll through games with ease, racking up goals like nobody’s business. And when the opposition kicks off, it’s the same movement each time, so you know exactly where they end up going, which means you can win possession back immediately. Things do improve at higher difficulty levels, making it tougher to play against opponents as they pick up the pace with quick passing. But again, it’s still not too difficult.

Other than that though, I couldn’t find much fault with Sociable Soccer 24 at all. It runs incredibly well on Switch, both in docked mode and in handheld. The graphics aren’t as realistic as others, but that’s not what this game is about, it’s about bringing the beautiful game back to the basics. Having a game that doesn’t try too hard, and that brings joy and fun to anyone who picks it up.

Sociable Soccer 24 goal replay

Sociable Soccer 24 overall thoughts

It has been a while since I’ve properly enjoyed playing a football game, but Sociable Soccer 24 has brought that joy back. It doesn’t try to overcomplicate things, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it does this whilst keeping things nice and simple. It’s an excellent formula for a game, and when so many people are obsessed with graphics and realism in games today, Sociable Soccer 24 is a reminder that they don’t have to be like that to be enjoyed.

Some improvements could be made, as I mentioned with career modes and player rankings. And who knows, if more editions of the game come out down the line, we may get those little bits of polish that help elevate the game to the next level. But for now, it’s a fantastic game in which you can relive your youth, inviting friends to come round for a pizza, a few drinks, and sitting on the couch all evening playing until the early hours of the morning.

If you’re into your football games, especially on Switch, Sociable Soccer 24 is a must-buy.

Sociable Soccer 24 is available to play now on all major consoles and Steam. Find more information about the game on the official website. And whilst you wait for the game to download, why not check out some of our other game reviews?

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