Okay, I'm not a handball fan. I tend to watch a few matches during the olympics, so I did have a general idea what it is about. I like playing sports games when the pace is good and gameplay is fluid (football, ice hockey and naseball even though it's a bit static sport). This game was on sale, so I figured to pick it up. There are not that many good sports games on PC after all.
The gameplay reminds me a bit of basketball
. Which is not a good thing for me at least. You go on offense, all the enemy players are in front of the goal, you pass around and try to find a hole in the defense. When you find a hole (doesn't usually take too many passes) you run and do a jumpshot into opposite top corner. This will more often than not result in a goal. You can feint or lob the ball, but why should you when shooting into top corner gives you a goal 90% of the time
? And the shooters in the game tend to be really good. They will shoot where your cursor is. Stats don't seem to make much difference.
Defensive play is straight out of basketball too. You can jump to block a shot, you can "grab" and hold a player and you can shove a bit. If you like sports that have impacts, this isn't really one of them. It wouldn't be a problem, if it wasn't easily exploitable. By grabbing the opponent, then quickly shoving him you can start an endless grab/shove loop by alternating the two buttons. Opponent will eventually receive "Passive Play" penalty and you get the ball. Riveting.
Default setting for game speed is slow. I have no idea why. I set it on "Fast" and the game was a lot more interesting already. Offense is way more polished. Shooting is spot on, but passing is a bit clumsy at times.
You can only pass to the player that has a grey circle under them. This usually works fine, but sometimes when you need to make a quick pass to someone else than that, the player will still receive the ball even though your left stick is pointed to opposite direction. Animation quality is... passable
I guess. Sometimes the ball mysteriously teleports into goalie's hands, maybe because of lack of animations. Graphics are okay even though the players look a bit "generic".
I don't know, if it's fair to compare this game to EA sports and other sports game companies, but replays are more or less an industry stantard by now. Lack of them in a '12 game is not very appealing.
There are four modes. Friendly game where you pick the both teams and jump into game. World Championships which is what you'd expect. You pick one international team and play a tournament. Again, pretty basic stuff. Game has a large number of international teams. Training camp, which is apparently some collectionof minigames and stuff like that. You need to be online when playing it or your data doesn't save and my game crashes when I try to register an online account. I more or less skipped it.
My biggest let disappointment in the game is league mode. What do you do in league? You pick a team (from germany, spain or "rest of the world"), you play a match and then you play some more matches. There are no transfers or any sort of development like that. It's like playing friendly matches, except that you can't choose the opponent and the game keeps a track of your wins/loses. Not really what I expected. I figured it wouldn't have a "dynasty mode" kind of thing, but it doesn't really have any kind of thing. User interface and soundtrack are okay.
I can't really recommend this game to anyone
. For sports fans, there isn't much for you and for handball fans there is IHF 14 coming out in 2 weeks with updated rosters and whatnot. It's apparently by a different development team, so maybe they have a fresh take on game.
Here's some gameplay I filmed, if someone is interested:http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=241991399