There really is no free lunch in this world, even if you're in an iOS state of mind. You may download an app for zero cents, but the advertisements that come your way, as well as the constant reminder of in-app purchases, can turn an initial bargain into a total headache. Striker Soccer 2 inundates us with freemium madness, and the only way they can kick themselves out of this corner is to actually deliver an entertaining experience.

The beauty behind soccer rests on its lack of instant gratification. If one understands the nuances of the sport, a low scoring match is a total thrill, especially if both teams know what they're actually doing. With Striker Soccer 2, you will be able to steal, tackle, pass, and shoot the ball with relative ease, especially since those commands require the simple tap of a button on the right side of your device. A virtual joystick is located on the left to move your players.

Actually scoring a goal, however, is a bit more difficult, as your kicks are pretty well defended even in the early stages. Passing the ball and taking a good angle to the net should increase your chances, but unless you purchase upgrades for your athletes, don't expect to go goal crazy during your first several matches.

Under competition mode, you select a team and proceed to the field. A victory nets you more currency, and once you collect enough cash you can purchase boosts that gives certain players a higher chance of scoring or defending. These upgrades are a bit expensive even if you win a couple of games, and unless you want to spend your own money ($0.99 gets you 1,000 coins), you may have to face your opponent without any distinct advantage.

It also takes thirty minutes to create another game, so if you've run out of your maximum amount of four matches, you'll be playing the waiting game. Once you finish a match, a random ad will surface on your device, plugging its respective product until you close that window to get back into the game. You can also disabled all ads for just $0.99! With so many in-app purchase options and advertisements, one has to wonder if Striker Soccer 2 is worth all that trouble.

The good news is the soccer section of the app is a lot of fun. Under the friendly match mode, I adjusted my match time to five minutes and was completely immersed with the game. At the end of a victory, you're also offered a choice of three random cards, and once you make your choice, the card will show what kind of prize you won for all your troubles. It can be a boost you can use for your next match, or extra money that you can add to your pot.

Waiting for a game to refill is a slight annoyance, but thankfully it's not a complete headache, especially since you can enter the challenge section of the app. With this mode, you are tasked with completing certain objectives and can only progress to the next level once that goal has been attained. The great part of challenge mode is it will not use up any of the refilled games in your queue. I also dig the story aspect behind this mode, especially since I'm still a fan of newsprint.

Striker Soccer 2 may take full advantage of the freemium model, but that irritation is tempered by its innate playability and charm. I simply love watching my team come together to score that one goal to lead us to victory. Staving off an onslaught and defending our territory from the opponent is also fun, especially if you have to face them on a rain slicked field. This app may have its drawbacks, but it scores enough points to keep me kicking in the right direction.


App Store Link: Striker Soccer 2 for iPhone & iPad | By Chillingo Ltd | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.1 | 142 MB | Rating 4+

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating