Mention the words “football game” and the thoughts of most people turn towards the likes of FIFA and PES and if they are of a more casual bend of mind, Flick Kick Football. There is however, more to football than just kicking a ball around and plotting to bring down the opposition. And this is what New Star Soccer tries to bring out.

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Available as a free download for both Android and iOS, New Star Soccer literally puts you in the shoes of a football player. Pretty literally, we would say. And this is perhaps the best time to point out that this is not a game in which you make crushing tackles and hit thundering shots at goal all the time. No, you start out as a pretty basic player and make your way to the top. You can make the job easier by making some in-app purchases but we would recommend roughing it out – the journey is tougher but more rewarding.

And what a journey it is. For yes, while a lot depends on what you do on the field in New Star Soccer, what you do off it matters as well. This often means juggling time between teammates, the manager, the fans, your girlfriend/boyfriend, and of course, keeping appointments with your agent and trainer. The happier and fitter you are, the better you will play on the pitch. It is here that the intricacies of the game come into play, because you have limited energy levels to devote to different aspects of your life. Yes, these levels can be boosted by some supplements, but these cost money in turn. At the end of the day, it is all about making choices – and all those choices might not pay off: meeting the manager and ignoring the fans will please the former and make the former barrack you during a game. Similarly ignoring your teammates might mean fewer passes during a match. There’s always a lot to do and so little time. And more often than not you do not have too much control over matters – pleasing the teammates or your boss might boil down to choosing the right combination on a board.

Which is not to say that there is no “football” in the game. Yes, there is. But it is not the hectic action that you see in FIFA or PES. Instead, you end up watching the commentary of the match, and get to ‘play’ only when the ball comes to you. When it does, you often have the option to pass, shoot and sometimes even make a run with the ball. And it is pretty tough going initially, especially trying to make long runs, as you have to drag your player past others and you don’t start off as the fleetest of foot or the most skillful in soccerdom – I seldom got past a few yards before losing the ball. Passing, heading or shooting involves tapping the ball on the right place at the right time – again, it takes some getting used to. And all the while you are on the pitch, you are being judged by the boss, your teammates and the fans. Every missed pass, every loss of the ball will cost you.

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No, it is not the most spectacular game we have seen – you will spend most of the time staring at stat sheets and trying to figure out ways to please people and even the football action seems like something out a turn of the century game. And the gameplay – especially the playing football part – can at times be frustratingly tough (the ball often does not react the way you want it to). But New Star Soccer still is one of the most addictive sports games we have played on a handset simply because there’s more to it than a kick in the grass. You don’t just try to score goals – you also work on relationships, upgrading your skills, earning recognition and of course, working your way to the top. You can make the way easier for yourself by spending real money or you can earn digital lucre by playing brilliantly on the field. It is all about making choices, all the time.

A bit like life, eh? Now, excuse us, but we have got to sign up an agent for our player to try and negotiate a better deal for him and work on transfers… never a dull moment, never a dull moment.

Download from: Google Play, iTunes App Store

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Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.