Most days I check the VR section of the Steam store and order the list by release date to check out the latest releases. Yesterday I spotted something which was very different to the other titles that are being released for the Vive. Being a football (or “soccer” to our American friends) fan, I was immediately interested by the game Hat Trick Header by No Pact. It’s a football based game where you use your head to header the ball at targets that appear in front of you. It’s simple and it’s totally brilliant!
The basic premise is balls get fired at you and you have to use your head to aim said balls at targets that appear, move, turn and disappear in front of you. The more you hit, the better your score and you get bonus points for consecutive strikes. It’s a simple idea that has been executed superbly well.
The graphics are great, they’re not realistic but you still feel as though you’re actually in the bright and colourful world around you. The environment, of which there are three, are really well thought out. There is the training ground, a beach and a football stadium which are all set in Brazil. Personally I prefer the training ground and the stadium, but only because I like the goal that’s in front of you which is an extra something to aim for. That said, the beach is quite relaxing!
The game feels spot on with the accuracy of the headers. As long as you remember that you’re trying to make contact with your forehead, you’ll soon get the hang of aiming the ball. It’s easy to pick up, but very hard to master which makes getting those hit streaks even more satisfying! I do play quite a bit of football and my heading in real life is just as bad as it is in the game, so it must be realistic!
Whilst playing I found myself really getting into it, from throwing my body at the ball to generate more power to pulling back to cushion the ball to hit the lower targets. I felt so immersed in the game that more than a few times I attempted to kick a stray ball that was rolling in front of me or even trying to chest a ball down, I’m glad nobody was watching me…
The polish and attention to detail in Hat Trick Header is very impressive. The little details the developers have added are excellent such as the little spinning balls in the Vive controllers … you barely use the controllers, they didn’t need to put so much effort into animating those! The same with the audio, I love the way that you can hear the dull thud as the ball bounces back off the post or crossbar. The goal is just part of the environment, nobody would have even noticed if that sound wasn’t there, but it is, and it’s really appreciated! The same for the fireworks when you beat your high score, it’s these little touches and extra effort that the guys at No Pact have put in that makes this game a joy to play.
Local multiplayer is a really nice touch, you can have 4 people playing, taking turns swapping the headset which I will be testing out next time I have some mates over, of if I can convince the wife to give it a go!
You can also customise your player and team although I’m not convinced how much that adds to the game, but it’s a nice option to have.
There are three difficulty levels and two different modes for each environment, which is the position of the targets. These along with the 3 different locations adds quite a bit a replayability. I don’t see this as a game you’ll spend more than an hour at a time on, but it’s definitely one I will keep coming back to as it’s addictive to try beat your previous high scores. That, and it’s bloody great fun!
It’s great to see a quality, polished VR release that isn’t in early access but I do hope the developers add a few bits to it in the future. Whilst playing I wished I could aim for the goal rather than the targets. Trying to score past a keeper from crosses would be a really great addition. Or maybe just some other targets such as buckets or basketball hoops to add a bit of variety. I’d even be happy to pay for these additions as DLC as the base price of the game offers great value!
The header mechanics in Hat Trick Header works really well and it’s great to see something so different hit the VR store. There isn’t enough depth to keep you playing for hours at a time, but what is there is brilliant and a joy to play. This will be one of those titles that I keep coming back to as it’s fun, satisfying and puts a smile on my face every time I manage to hit a target!
It’s the best sports game on the VR store and if you’re a fan of football I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Title: Hat Trick Header
Cost: £6.99 (15% off until 11/10/16)
Please note I was very kindly given a review copy by the generous developer. However this has not affected my review in any way.