So here we have Handball 17. As the name might indicate it’s a handball sports simulator in which you can create and customise your character and select what team to play for. You can also choose to play in season play, career, online and local game modes.
Let’s start off with career, as that is the game mode you actually start off with playing first. When you first play the game it does come up with tips and directions on how to make shots and pass to teammates. this is as close as you’ll get to a full on tutorial, so it’ll have to do. It is informative enough if you’ve played similar sports games, but I haven’t, so it wasn’t. I still don’t know how I’m fouling, or whether or not I’m actually controlling the goalkeeper in the subsequent shots. Even with this lack of knowledge I can still prevail with a crushing victory on the normal difficulty setting, so it is definitely playable by a novice, but then so is Mortal Kombat if you hit all the buttons fast enough. I suppose this is like most 1v1 games in that respect, where finesse comes with experience; unfortunately I lack both. After winning a match in career, you can then go to check the in-game challenges. Completion of these challenges grants you “career points’, which can be spent on upgrading your player’s skills, which are stamina, speed, awareness, reputation, block and shot. Each skill is given an arbitrary score, all starting at 50. There’s no explanation as to what exactly each skill does, so whilst it’s quite obvious that increasing the speed makes the character go faster, there are some attributes that are a bit too vague to be left unexplained.
The character customisation options are reasonably good, with a couple of different body types, skin and hair colours and quite a few clothing options you can really make your star player your own. As well as the characters, the games can also be customised; in private matches you can choose the design and colour scheme of your stadium. The gameplay looks really good, with the graphics on Handball 17 looking reminiscent of other similarly named sports games. There are moments playing this game where it looks like the space between a goalkeeper’s arms stopped the ball, but I can’t decide whether that’s a bad point or if prompting the player to scream “that was a goal for sure!!” deserves extra credit for adding realism. The local match allows you to connect a second controller and playing against each other. The camera angle is unaffected by the additional controller, and sharing the screen with another player doesn’t change the gameplay, which is a real bonus. Career play gives a real focus to the individual player going through their entire professional career, getting offers from other teams, whereas the Season play mode gives a broad view of the entire team, so you stay with that team rather than following a single player. I’ve not had an opportunity to play the Online gameplay, as there seemed to be no players to connect to. This could be that the game has strict connection settings, poor servers or, the most likely option, nobody was playing Handball 17 at that time.
The cost of this game is £54.99, which is the same price as it’s sports based counterparts NBA 2K17 and FIFA 17. This sort of game really comes down to whether you like sports games or handball at all. If you’re a big handball fan this will be the obvious choice for you, as it presents a realistic simulation of the sport, and is a game you can really get stuck in to. Also, if you love any kind of sports game, this could be worth a shot, as they do have a similar base mechanic. You are able to perform real handball moves and combinations, so it is a fairly detailed re-enactment of a live game. You have players, crowds and even commentators to add to the immersion in this game.
I think that the overall difficulty with any of the “[Insert Sport Here] 17” games is that from one year to the next, it’s very hard to see change, aside from updating the team rosters and some minor graphics improvements, from one year to the next it’s practically the same game it was years ago. But the same argument is often made against quite a few of the FPS games I play day in day out, so maybe some stability in the gaming environment is exactly what we are asking for, and if that’s the case, this is one game that delivers both stability and excitement.
Overall, Handball 17 is a well-rounded game and is worth the price point if you’re into this sort of game, but if it’s outside of your wheelhouse it might not be worth the risk.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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