I like football, and to me, VR Soccer '96 is a very good game. Gremlin created this game - the first title in its VR Sports series - in 1996 to compete in a market dominated by EA Sports.
The gameplay in VR Soccer is amazingly realistic. As with many first efforts, though, a little tightening up would have been worthwhile. You can trap a high ball, control your passing ability, and switch defenders with some other players. With practice you can get the hang of it quickly, but it's normal to completely lose control when playing for the first time. You'll also find that your goalkeeper has a will of his own, and that your passes tend to go astray, even when your players have control of the ball. The game's best feature is the means by which it shows what your players can do; when one of your players has the ball, shapes indicating which actions he can perform will appear beneath him. Star, circle, and square stand for shooting, passing, and crossing the ball, respectively.
Unfortunately, the game does not use actual league statistics and players' names because Gremlin did not have the license, but the 44 international teams included can be edited. The menu options are very detailed, and allow you to modify everything from player statistics to custom cups, leagues, tournaments, multiplayer modes and much more. VR Soccer also makes use of many different viewing angles which do a good job of showing the realistic motion of the players (though not as well as in Actua Soccer).
The biggest negative point about VR Soccer concerns the AI. Once you have mastered the task of controlling the ball, you will score many goals, possibly more than six or seven per game, because the computer-controlled players make lots of mistakes.
To conclude, this is a game with good graphics, even when the players are shown close up, but it isn't very difficult once you understand how it works. For this reason, I give the game a 4, as it is almost perfect.
You have to install VR Soccer to the C: drive. You can use DOSBox to make the game run more smoothly, but it can be run under Windows XP as well. If you play in DOSBox, you will probably need to run the emulator at around 10,000 cycles per second for it to run at its normal speed.
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