playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

A.P.I Review: Actua Soccer 3
Developer: Gremlin OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Gremlin 1-8 Player
Game Type: Sports Sim Memory Card
Review Date: December 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

World League Soccer, FIFA, ISS Pro, Adidas Power Soccer, All Star Soccer, Goal Storm, J-League Winning Eleven, Kick Off World, Olympic Soccer... played them all, but the one series on Playstation that has remained consistent over the years must be the Actua Soccer games. In fact the original '95 version can still stand tall among the rapidly ageing midgets. It was the first to make use and master motion capture technology, the graphics engine was the first to use polygon characters instead of sprites without any slowdown and the commentary was detailed, context sensitive and remained ahead of the field.


Actua Soccer 3 contains over 450 teams culled from the best leagues around the world. This means that over 10,000 players are included, all of which have been individually researched and rated for exclusive use within the Actua Sports range. The action will be spread across 30 of the most famous stadia in the world, including Old Trafford, Nou Camp, Wembley and Bayern Munich's Olympic Stadium to name but a few.


The opening video is a 'classic' in all senses of the word. Most soccer fans from the UK will remember Euro '96 when the BBC went all upper class on us by switching their catchy introductory theme tune into an operatic classical rendition from Italian tenor Pavarotti. Actua Soccer 3 follows this trend as the game opens up with a neatly linked selection of live action clips backed by the heart rendering Cavalleria Rusticana. Sheer class!

The players are not so large and chunky as past Actua Soccer games. Instead they take on an appearance more in line with other soccer titles such as WLS and ISS (although perhaps a little more grainy and slightly taller). Alan Shearer was again used for motion capture along with Simon Tracy whose was captured for the keepers actions allowing for a huge range of new movements to be incorporated, adding realism to the animation.

The weather effects are fairly well presented. Skids on the turf always look good while the misty effects during overcast conditions capture that cold damp evening perfectly. Five inches of snow on the surface always puts a smile on my face - have you ever witnessed a modern soccer match played in such ridiculous conditions? However, the high resolution graphics occasionally suffer from a misting effect due to the the brilliance of the blinding snow conditions.

The isometric camera angle would not have been my first choice for playing a soccer game but surprisingly it works quite well. This position is slightly tilted from corner to corner allowing an almost perfect view of the goal when shooting. There is a choice of ten viewing perspectives and while the game is paused you may adjust the current camera to suit your own style of play by pressing and holding the shoulder buttons. Following each goal the strike is replayed from a couple of angles complete with a red 'ball trail' highlighting every bounce and the amount of bend on the shot. Should you wish to query a decision then at any time the game may be paused and a slow-motion replay can be shown over and over again from each available camera angle.

Each of the stadiums featured contains over 1000 polygons and all are pre-lit, fully gouraud shaded and textured. Large flags sporting the colors of each team can be seen waving back and forth and after each goal is scored a trail of streamers rain down on the pitch.

A couple of niggles include when the ball goes out of play the camera changes to a new angle a little too quickly for my liking. There's also the vast spaces in the crowd at Old Trafford (I don't think so!) and the keepers who pretend to throw the ball up the field but then suddenly change their minds and kick it. Once in a while can be considered intelligent programming... every single time is just plain stupid.

Sounds and Effects

Hot on the heels of the classical Cavalleria Rusticana comes the rocking Robbie Williams to raise the tempo with the somewhat aptly titled Let Me Entertain You. Talk about chalk and cheese!

Commentary is once again supplied by Barrie Davies with match comments from Leicester City manager Martin O'Neill.

The crowd sounds seem to be a little stifled but the noise does raise as the player closes in on goal. There's a nice touch of realism when the stadium announcer can be heard in the background passing a message onto some unsuspecting spectator.


There are an amazing 450 selectable teams from most of the worlds international, premier and lower division leagues from Barnett to Brazil. There are also a further 24 custom teams of which you can build into a formidable force to challenge the best teams in the world.

On entering the custom menu you are first required to select your teams colors. Strips, shorts, socks and keepers jersey can be whatever you choose - hoops, plain, checks, halves or stripes. The player editor screen allows you to individually adjust the skill settings of each squad member. You must spread the talent around the whole team to create a balanced squad but those of you who are more daring may invest heavily in their strikers and play an all out attack formation to try to out-score the opposition. Height and weight is also an important factor while skin color and choice of which foot the player uses best will also have a bearing on their play. The custom mode offers a sort of management game within Actua Soccer 2 that can be tinkered with for hours on end before a ball is even kicked.

Succeed in a cup competition, or finish a season as one of the top three teams in a league competition and bonus codes will be awarded along with your trophy. These unlock up to 19 special teams including Shearers All Star Team, Big Heads and The Sexy Footballers. This idea is much more rewarding than receiving an animated cup.

Game modes include a Friendly match between any two teams and a Practice mode where penalties, set pieces or a full game may be arranged. There are two types of Cup competitions available which are Default and Custom. The Default Cup option offers a straight knockout competition, or a mini league involving between 4 and 64 teams. Custom Cup allows you to create and compete in your own competition. Season is split in a similar way where several International and local leagues are available for selection.

Before each game you will be presented with a tactical setup screen. Here you can select your first team from a squad of 22 players and then adjust the formation, marking and general style of play. As with most soccer games the match conditions and rules may be tampered with covering everything from referees strictness to match length and extra time.

Playing an Actua Soccer game is no formality and the third in the series is certainly no different. The ball doesn't stick to your feet like glue, especially when running, it is tapped ahead and then run onto. This offers a more realistic approach to the game with an element of skillful ball control coming into the frame. There are four difficulty settings but even the easiest is no cake-walk. You really have to try your best to win a game of Actua Soccer 3.

Another point worth mentioning is that the game doesn't seem so automated and at times you actually feel in complete control of your team. For example the player that the gamer controls is not always the nearest to the ball, therefore you must regularly use the switch player button to feel in complete control. There is also the occasion when if you can't be bothered to chase the ball... then neither can your player. You only get out of Actua Soccer 3 what you put in.

Value for Money

Hundreds of teams packed with real name players, updated stats and that unique style of control that gives Actua Soccer 3 it's personalized touch.

If you are already a fan then you will love it. If not then a rental may just be enough to convert you.

GRAPHICS: 17/20 This probably won't surprise you but Actua Soccer 3 is very similar to Actua Soccer 2. My only concern is that it maybe a little too close for comfort.

The Actua Soccer series takes a little more time to get to grips with than other immediately accessible games. They don't instantly appeal... but they do eventually grow on you.

If you want a pick-up-and-play style of game then go for FIFA 99. However, if you would rather invest in a game that will provide a genuine thrill when a goal is your reward for practice, graft and skill... then Actua Soccer 3 should be your preference. It certainly offers greater longevity.

SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 15/20


    GAMES        Get your PSX games HERE!