The best way I can think to describe this game is by first going all the way back and quoting my review for the Wii game:
"It's full of personality too. Every single character you can choose to put on your team is different. You've got different stats obviously, something like 4 different categories, but each team captain has their own unique item, each sidekick has their own unique special shot, each character has different theme music that plays when they score a goal, and different dodge animations (which itself is different per character class, with some being more offensive, some being able to bypass the goalie with the right timing etc). It just really helps feel like every character you pick makes your team personalised to you, rather than just generic characters with a Mario skin."
All of this is gone, except for the stats (and even those can be adjusted to basically make every character whatever you want them to be). Everything else just...gone. No more sidekicks in general, no unique special shots, no character-specific items, no theme music for goals, no unique dodge techniques. Personality has at least survived with some things like animations, but it's all aesthetic and there's essentially zero gameplay differences between the tiny roster of 10 characters.
Quoting from my old review again though:
"My main issue is with the super strike mechanic. While this also plays into the idea of the game making each character unique, by giving them characteristic animations during the move, it is way too powerful and slows the game down every time it's used. I think it would have been fine if it was just limited to once per match, including the set-up screen, so that if you tried to use one at a bad time, you're out of luck. It'd add a lot more strategy and give it a huge risk-reward factor, while right now it's just no reward-reward."
This has at least been changed. No more spamming super strikes for 5 easy goals. Now you can only do them when a special item appears, and they only give you 2 goals. They still kind of break the pace when using them (unskippable 30 second or so cutscenes), but generally they're a big improvement here.
Anyway moving on to things unique to this game - Holy shit the way they handled customisation. So they have some pretty cool ways to alter the look of your side of the field, things like the look of the goal posts, the electric barrier pattern, the scenery items outside the barrier etc. But you can ONLY do these as part of a striker club. And only the leader of a striker club can alter them. Like you can still use your clubs field outside of club mode, even in story mode, but for some reason there's no way to just...make field designs you want. It makes zero sense. Have it so you can only use your clubs field specifically when doing club matches, but why the hell would you not let us make our own fields for single player and quickplay matches?
You might think "Well I'll just make my own private club so I can make a field how I want". Except nah, because on top of the obvious disadvantage you'd be in for ranking with a club with only 1 member, you can't actually do proper club matches like this (which you need for currency to buy customisation parts). The characters you can select in club matches are exclusively the ones the players of a club have registered as their character in said club (including their gear). So you can use YOUR character, but if you're the only one in a club it'll fill the last 3 with random characters, none of which have gear. So your only choices are to join a club and let the leader pick all the customisation options for you, or be lucky enough to be the head of a club with 19 other people (and hope they bring in good characters to use).
Also club mode launched without even having a current season lmao. Why?!
Anyway here's just a random list of other complaints:
-Zero content. 10 characters. 5 stadium themes that have zero gimmicks (may or may not be a positive to some people), and all the actual pitches are just plain grass. The only single player mode is now a simple bracket tournament with 3 matches across various cups.
-The inclusion of more timing based elements for things like perfect passes and perfect shots sounds good on paper, but in reality it just results in WAY too many goals. Especially combined with being able to min-max any stat you want. Having a max shooting stat with a perfect shot (honestly not hard at all to time) results in a goal from anywhere almost automatically. 4 minute matches will take at least twice as long thanks to the amount of goals.
-Items have been reduced to just the basic 5.
-Stadiums are tiny now.
What's GOOD about the game? Well... it still plays fairly well I suppose. There's still a lot of personality in animations (though I think the amount of possible goal animations per character have been drastically reduced?).
Umm... I dunno what else. This game is such a shell of its former self. They seemed to bank literally everything on the idea people would love being part of a club online, and maybe if you have 19 friends to join that'd be the case, but for anyone who has to resort to joining random open clubs, it's just a bad game with basically nothing to do.
Reviewed on Jun 11, 2022