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Football Nation VR logo for PSVR

The beautiful game: Football Nation VR (PSVR) review

It’s the dream of almost every young child to pull on their team’s shirt and walk out on the hallowed turf that is their team’s home ground. For me, that means having the opportunity to pull on the red shirt of Liverpool and stepping foot onto the Anfield pitch. Unfortunately, my skills are somewhat lacking and I’m not the fittest athlete, in fact, I’d go as far as saying I’m rather podgy. Still, I am now able to come one step closer to my dream thanks to Cherry Pop Games’ Football Nation VR (previously titled VRFC.).

Set in the world of 5-a-side Sunday league football, Football Nation VR puts you in the spotlight as you run, pass and score your way to glory. Starting with a simple tutorial that shows you how to run, pass and shoot, you’d like to think you’ll soon be playing against the computer or friends and showing off our tekkers. Unfortunately, as much as the tutorial teaches you the basics, the one thing it doesn’t tell you is how to receive passes and turn to start running at the opposition goal. And guess what? It’s bloody difficult to master.

It’s not like FIFA where the ball is glued to your feet as you run, literally the slightest touch with your foot in the wrong direction and the ball can wander off. So what do you do when it comes to you? Well, the two PlayStation Move controllers (or the alternatives for PC) basically define where your feet are, so from personal experience, you’re best opening them up to let the ball go through your legs. Then, quickly tap the snap to ball button and get running. There may be better ways, but as the tutorial doesn’t teach you this, it was the easiest way for me to get forward when receiving a ball with my back to their goal.

A quick view of online players warming up before a game kicks off.

It’s like Rayman meets FIFA or PES, except you can’t wind up your fist to punch people

Besides that though the rest of the controls are pretty easy to pick up. The only thing to mention is remembering the placement of your feet (the in-game ones, not your actual ones) especially when it comes to running and shooting. This is because you want to make sure you’re not knocking the ball into the path of your opponent and wanting to make sure you’re at least challenging their keeper and not hitting the ball wide.

If you do make it through the game without scoring, or you’re just as crap at defending as I am so you concede as many as you score, then you’ll find yourself in a penalty shootout to decide who wins. This for me had both good and bad points, although bad is a strong word, so maybe room for improvement is a more apt term. The good point is you take all your team’s penalties, which is good as you’re not relying on the AI of the game and so you’re left with no one to blame but yourself if you lose. The area for improvement for me though is that in terms of the opposition, it is left to an AI keeper to save their shots when it would be a lot more fun if the keeper was controlled by the player.

In terms of graphics, don’t be expecting to look to your side and see you’re lining up with Ronaldo or Messi, instead you’ll be lining up with generic looking people with names that could have easily been picked from the early PES games when they had no rights for official players or team names. That said, it isn’t a pixelated mess, but it definitely fits in with the Sunday League theme with a lack of finer details, but as I’ve said many a time, the graphics don’t make the game, and it certainly doesn’t break the game either as the gameplay is great fun.

Players in VRFC chasing the ball as it flies through the air.

It’s like watching kids play where no matter what position they play, everyone just runs for the ball

As much fun as I’ve had, there are a couple more improvements or additions I’d like to see as well. They did add a special tournament mode for the world cup, but I’d like to see a little more variety, such as a penalty shootout mode, maybe a freekick mode too where you could even create your own set pieces to share with others to see if they can beat your wall. It’d also be nice to see the game developed in a way that allows you to create your own club, customising your kits and taking your team from the bottom division to competing internationally. I know it’s a lot to ask for a game that costs less than a romantic night at McDonald’s, but these ideas, in my opinion, could take the game to the next level, and very much will be the way games will go as VR becomes bigger and bigger.

Overall, Football Nation VR is a great little game and is exactly what I have wanted to see come to VR gaming since the concept of it began, but it could be so much more. For the best part the game does most things well, it creates the right kind of atmosphere you’d expect in a little 5-a-side game of football, putting you in the centre of the action, and it can be fun to play, especially with other people online. But at the same time, it can be frustrating due to some poor and complicated control mechanics. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it was more frustrating at times than watching my beloved club losing to Real Madrid in the Champion’s League final. Still, for the price tag and the very little space it takes up on your HD, it is definitely worth looking into getting if you’re a sports game fan.

The TL;DR:

  • Football Nation VR immerses you into the beautiful game unlike any other football game around;
  • Controls although seem easy to pick up following tutorials, do take some getting used to in-game;
  • Graphics aren’t the best, but environments do create a good atmosphere;
  • Some additional game modes such as allowing you to be a goalkeeper, even if just in a penalty shootout mode would be welcome additions.

72%

Football Nation VR is developed by CherryPop Games and is available now for PC and PSVR (PlayStation Camera and PlayStation Move are required). For another of OhMyJosh’s reviews on a football game, check out this one HERE.

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