Speedball 2 - Tournament Edition Review

Things get brutal in the future, especially if this futuristic sports sim is anything to go by.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 19th February 2008

Speedball 2 - Tournament Edition

  • Developer: Kylotonn
  • Publisher: Ascaron
  • Release Date: 8th February 2008

There are plenty of sports titles out there for players to get their teeth into and grind out victories, but none that let you inflict defeats on your opposition quite like Speedball 2 – Tournament Edition and its ultra violent, no holds barred approach.

Speedball 2 – Tournament Edition is a remake of the classic Speedball 2 – Brutal Deluxe, which was released back in 1990. The game is set in 2326 where civilisation has begun to crumble, after civil war breaks out rival gangs have formed a league for a new ultra violent sport called Speedball. After quickly gaining popularity the sport eventually turns professional, but keeps its ties with the streets with no rules and regulations.

The best way to actually describe the sport of Speedball is that it’s like a cross between soccer and American football in which teams of nine do battle and score goals with a steel ball. The ball is carried in the hands and must be thrown into the goal in order to score with ten points awarded for a goal! To stop an opponent scoring you can perform slide tackles or simply punch opposing players to the ground. You even get awarded ten points for knocking out rival players and what’s more the opposing team is a man down because of it. You not only score points from goals and knocking out opposing players, as each arena features several markers where you pick up extra points. Such as impact zones and blue stars on the walls.

Speedball 2 features several single player modes as well as extensive multiplayer support. You can choose to compete in Leagues, cups and single knockout matches. In the games league mode, you begin in league four and must work your way through to the top with each league featuring more challenging opponents. Once you reach league one you are then able to compete for the Speedball championship. Each league consists of 14 games with the top two teams at the end of the campaign being promoted to the next league. Throughout the course of the league you can spend credits to recruit new players and upgrade your current players.

The games cup mode pits you in an eight round tournament with each round being played over two legs, the team that scores the most points over the course of the two games wins the round and proceeds through the tournament. For instance you can win and lose one of the games but as long as you score more points you can still progress through the round.

The Knockout mode allows you to play a single match or friend on the same computer. Up to four players can compete in this mode with two players together on one team.

Speedball 2 also features a practice mode in which you have no opponent! This mode is useful for getting to grips with the games controls and testing out new formations.

The game features pretty extensive multiplayer support, managed through the games website. Clan support and ladder matches are all present, however the game is let down by some pretty big bugs during the matches. In one game, characters would repeat the same actions over again, and in another, players occasionally fell through the floor. During one match I was able to run past another player’s team with him unable to react, and at other times scored goals failed to register.

In the single player mode things seem a bit more stable and matches themselves vary in difficulty depending on what league the team you are facing are in, for instance league 1 teams are far more formidable then teams in the league 4. Computer controlled teams AI seems to vary depending on what difficulty level you are playing on and most will find the games easy setting a little to unchallenging as the opposing team’s players will stand still as you run past them. Switching to medium should suit most players whilst the games hard setting should provide a good enough challenge for the more experienced gamer. For those who want to experience a real bruising game, Speedball 2 also features a very hard setting.

During the course of a match you can collect power-ups from the arena floor that give your players a temporary boost or have an affect on the opposing team. These range from stopping the player with the ball, slowing players down or teleporting the ball to your player furthest up field.

There are two main ways of scoring goals in Speedball 2, you can either try and dodge and dash past the goalkeeper or throw a powerful shot over his head and into the goal, both are fairly easy to master and while this makes for some high scoring games it does seem a little to easy to score.

Like the games multiplayer mode the single player option does contain a number of bugs, although they are small in comparison. During one match, I was involved in some frantic goal mouth action with players inflicting hard hits on each other when the ball seemed to get stuck inside the wall, and obviously couldn’t be retrieved so I could do nothing except wait until the end of the match. This happened on several occasions throughout the course of a league. Another bug encountered was when the ball was knocked out of the arena. I was left staring at a black screen and could do nothing except wait for half time! Hopefully these issues will be resolved with a future patch release.

Speedball 2 is part of nVidia’s “meant to be played” programme and makes good use of the latest GeForce 8 chipsets, with rich textures and nice shading being used throughout. Arenas are nicely detailed with lots of special effects on the arena floor such as reflections and pulsing lights around the goals that follow the pattern of the floor.

Character models are also highly detailed and come in both male and female forms with the addition of cyborgs. There are a number of different looking characters within the game however you will often see the same models repeated over. One nice effect that I liked was when helmets fly off players after a particularly hard hit. They would stay where they fell for the duration of the half.

Sound is Speedball 2 biggest weakness, the games soundtrack is a techno mix, obviously used to emphasise the games futuristic setting however the same tracks are often repeated and overall forgettable to start with. Crowd cheering during games is ok and fairly well done but can be a little absent at times. Most other sounds are grunts and snarls from the players and the clashing of their armour, which is all fitting to the brutal nature of Speedball.

Overall Speedball 2 – Tournament Edition is fairly additive, and one of the better future sport titles I’ve played! However, it relative ease can make the single player mode become boring especially when playing against the weaker teams. The games multiplayer aspect goes some way to solve this but has problems as mentioned above. Minor but annoying gameplay bugs spoil the game and make it feel unfinished especially in the online mode. Despite this Speedball 2 should still appeal to fans of alternative sports titles and those bored with the usual barrage of soccer and tennis orientated games, if the bugs are resolved soon.

Review Score: 6.4/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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