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A.P.I Review: Libero Grande
Developer: Namco OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: SCEE 1-2 Player Split Screen
Game Type: Soccer Memory Card
Review Date: December 1998 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

How many soccer games are readily available on the Playstation?
Off the top of my head I've played about thirty-three... some good, some bad, many indifferent.

But which of them offered a third person perspective to give the impression that you were really contributing towards a game of soccer?

Libero Grande is the first football game that really allows a player to become a key member of the team and experience the thrill of playing on the pitch. A specially created gameplay system ensures that a player must learn to play effectively with his team rather than assuming anonymous control of all of the players.


SCEE bring us the Playstation conversion of the Namco Arcade hit, Libero Grande. The arcade soccer title that allows the gamer to become immersed in the action and actually become a player in your selected team.


Graphically Libero Grande isn't in the same class as the recent FIFA, Actua and ISS simulations, but as an arcade conversion it looks mighty cool.

The larger than life players have their own individual appearance with your team mates being of all race, height and build, while each of them has a unique set of attributes and playing style. Their movements are quite fluid but the character that the gamer controls suffers from a very short delay after each joypad action is instructed. This gives him a slightly sluggish feel as he is heaved around the pitch. However, once a few trick moves are incorporated into the gameplay it does seem to flow a little better.

I found the pace of the game to be quite comfortable considering this was a relatively new experience in console gaming. In fact the only other soccer game that I recall resembling Libero Grande was European Soccer on the Amiga system. Of course should you be trailing behind by a couple of goals with only a few minutes left on the clock then I dare say that the argument for a few more frames per second could be put forth.

The stadiums and playing surface seem massive when the game is viewed from the players perspective, which is precisely how it feels when you play a real game of soccer on a full size pitch. All around the animated crowd wave flags and constantly bob up and down. They really seem to be enjoying themselves. There are five impressive stadiums which may be played at day, night or dusk. Some of them look more like castles than soccer grounds, especially Foro Azzurro. There are no weather options within Libero Grande.

The camera angles almost work, but may leave many gamers disenchanted. It was a brave move to attempt the third person perspective (Resident Evil style) but a slightly more reactive cameraman would have been preferred. It works most of the time, but occasionally your player is looking away from where the ball is being played and it takes too long to catch up with the action. I suggest switching between Auto and Manual mode until the desired view is achieved. Still... which soccer player has eyes in the back of his head (I know a few who should have a bullet in it... ooh, that penalty miss).

Overall I would say that functional would be the best description for the graphics.

Sounds and Effects

The music is your typical nondescript dirge that follows around arcade titles as close as a Siamese twin. If you have no taste then it will probably sound quite acceptable. If you do... then the sensible thing would be to switch it off immediately.

The crowd sounds are adequate being a constant noise of drum bashing, cheering and chanting supporters. Other effects have taken into account the third person perspective view as each touch and bounce of the ball gradually fades as the play moves away from your position. There is no commentary which is fine by me considering the usual crazy character employed to comment on these type of arcade soccer games.


Libero Grande is indeed a soccer game with a difference. To begin with you don't need to spend hours of your time trying to discover the hidden combinations that enhance the gameplay. Simply jot down the moves such as nutmeg, heel lift, loop shot, centre.... as you watch the rolling 'how to play' trailer before commencing.

The controller options are very important to playing this game therefore pay attention. Apart from the standard offence and defensive button combinations Libero Grande includes a set of orders for your team mates. When in possession of the ball your player may pass, shimmy and shoot. When defending the buttons switch to slide tackle, shoulder charge and run. Nothing unusual there! However when a team mate has the ball your joypad can pass commands onto them instructing tackles, shooting and order them to pass the ball to you. Furthermore it isn't as complicated as it sounds because only three face buttons are used.

Libero Grande includes several playing modes including Arcade where one player, or two on the same side (split screen), may take part in a single soccer game between any of the sixteen world squads.

International Cup begins with a preliminary mini-league where the winners go onto the knockout stages. Points, difficulty, half length and extra time may be adjusted.

Exhibition mode is similar to arcade except that two players may compete against each other in split screen mode. Maybe this could culminate in a soccer Deathmatch sometime in the future?

World League is exactly as the cover describes where up to eight players may be controlled for eight different teams in a season of international matches.

Hands up all of you who have never seen the inside of a Practice Mode option? Not many hands still down there! Player Challenge is a little special. Imagine a combination of Gran Turismo driving tests and Metal Gear Solid's stealth practice. This mode involves nine sessions on the training field where tasks such as dribbling, shooting at moving and static targets, passing, bending free kicks around walls, volleys and heel toeing the furthest distance, are all part of a days work. Furthermore, they are all played against the clock with points awarded for precision, timing and accuracy. I must have remained within Player Challenge for a good two hours before I even thought about playing a game of soccer. Complete the course and new selectable players will appear in the menu. Definitely a game within a game.

I found playing the main game an enjoyable experience that kept me coming back for more. There are 24 selectable players initially all with differing attributes on skill, shooting and speed. What I found most difficult was to contain myself into viewing while others were on the ball. I always wanted to be in the heart of the action and constantly chased the ball up and down the field like a raving loony. I soon realized that this was too much like hard work and stood back and watched as my team mates contributed to the game. By pressing the order buttons they slid in for tackles, gathered up the ball and launched it in my general direction. Rather than run the entire length of the field I was now in a good goal scoring position when the ball arrived leaving me the simple task of nutmeging two defenders, sidestepping a couple of sliding tackles, chipping the keeper and then slamming the ball into the back of an empty net. GOAL!

Value for Money

Libero Grande certainly offers a totally fresh challenge from other soccer games. Graphically it is very much an arcade game, but in gameplay terms I would certainly recommend that you give it a try.

GRAPHICS: 15/20 Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to shrink in size and then actually take part in a video soccer game? Imagine marching on the field of play and as captain you must command your players and lead by example.

It's certainly offers a different angle on the game and is probably as close to the real thing as a video game could be. Hey, maybe while in your polygon state you could nip over to Core Design and get off with Lara Croft. Now that would be an experience worth commenting on.

We were promised that this game would include a link-up mode but sadly this feature was missing. Shame!
SOUND: 5/10
VALUE: 16/20


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