"But underneath all the machismo and violence, Speedball is actually a rather complex game that can best be described as a cross between soccer and pinball. The goal of the players is to score points by injuring the other team, or getting the ball into the goal. You can boost the number of points you score by throwing a ball through a loop-de-loop built into the wall. Each time you do so, you get a x2 multiplayer added to any points you score, which can be reduced by the opposing team doing the same thing."
Calling Speedball 2 a nostalgic title seems a bit redundant given it's a sequel, however what it really calls the mind to isn't necessarily the first game in the series, but an entire genre that's fallen out of favor in recent years. Mutant League Football, Pigskin, Base Wars, all of these are examples of the same half-sport half-action game wherein brutally maiming your opponent is as important to the experience as actually playing a sport. They're also all old enough that a significant portion of the gaming community nowadays won't remember them. For some of us, it might be a trip down memory lane, but for others, maybe it can introduce them to an old idea.
Speedball itself is a sport brewed up in what appears to be a generic futuristic dystopia. The citizenry is bitter and angry because it's the future, and they still don't have flying cars. Conditions are perfect for the creation of a sport wherein large angry people dress up in steel armor with a lot of sharp corners and throw eachother into walls almost as much as they throw the ball. Coincidentally, the ball is also made of steel, and the entire arena is plated in steel.
And as if all that weren't enough of a recipe for broken bones, teams actually score points for injuring members of the opposing team so much that they have to be carried off the field. It's not a small bonus, either, it's worth the same ten points that scoring a goal is. And while actually injuring someone that much isn't easy, what with all the steel, it can swing a close game in a heartbeat. So start throwing those low tackles.
Speedball 2 is a favorite sport of physicians in the future.
But underneath all the machismo and violence, Speedball is actually a rather complex game that can best be described as a cross between soccer and pinball. The goal of the players is to score points by injuring the other team, or getting the ball into the goal. You can boost the number of points you score by throwing a ball through a loop-de-loop built into the wall. Each time you do so, you get a x2 multiplayer added to any points you score, which can be reduced by the opposing team doing the same thing. There are a number of other flashy shiny things that you can light up with the ball that give you lesser numbers of points as well.
Basically, defending the entire field is difficult, as there's always an option for ways to score points, and the game becomes an ever-moving, ever-changing offensive surge. It requires constant attention and all of your reflexes focused on what's happening.
It does what any sports game should. Unfortunately, there are a few technical snags in the game. It's load times are obnoxious, taking up to several minutes. It's also billed as a multiplayer experience, and while it certainly is, the community is a little lacking. Finding games isn't easy. If you have friends to play with, no problem, but otherwise, be prepared to play the same people a lot, or stick to single-player.
There are some team management options, but they're very bare-bones, and the ones that are the most interesting are customizing your team's look and emblem for online play. Tinkering with positions and player stats really doesn't seem to make that great a difference, which is a let down, but one that can be forgiven when the game's overall arcadey nature is taken into account.
Fast-paced and brutal, Speedball is relentless once it's started. There are a few hiccups in the experience, but they generally melt away with the opening face off. The only real complaint to be levelled there is that the games are short, which suits the nature of the game well enough, but it exposes players to more load times. Overall, it's a good diversion with a lot of replayability, and for only $30, it's worth a look.
Freelance review by Josh Higley (February 26, 2008)
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