Real Soccer/Football 2010—a solid yet unremarkable experience

Posted: September 23, 2009 in Sports

Gameloft is one of the best known developers for the iTunes store making a variety of different games from sports games to platformers. One of the early sports games was Real Soccer/Football 2009 which was probably among the elite games at the time of its release. Its standalone update to that game Real Soccer/Football 2010 finally made its appearance in the U.S. market. After having spent some time with it, the game is a mixed bag delivering significantly improved controls and a better AI, but with unimpressive graphics and lag-prone online play.

Visually, the graphics seem blockier than those found in Real Soccer 2009. For an updated game, I was expecting to see significantly improved graphics or at least something comparable to X2 Football, a competing soccer game. The different stadiums and opening game graphics are the typical high quality you would expect from Gameloft, but the player graphics seem a notch below that. In addition, the menu layouts are a bit clunky to click through and feel dated.

Licensed by FIFA, Real Soccer/Football 2010 includes 245 teams and 14 stadiums. The game consists of two primary play modes: Exhibition and Game Modes. Exhibition offers a quick single game, while Game Modes presents 7 different game formats. These game formats include a season mode, league play, cup play, training and penalty kicks, and Legend. Here’s a brief description of each:

Season Club—manage a team for an entire season with league, cup and champion events
RS League—online league with 178 teams where points are collected
League—choice of play in 8 leagues each with 20 teams and separate schedules
Cup—Championship cup play for 6 different cups (e.g. Asian, American, European)
Training—practice skills such as passing, kicking and defense
Enter the Legend—create a player customizing physical attributes and skills and run him through a simulated season to see how they progress
Penalty Kicks—practice the skill of practice kicks
Rewards—achievement system tracking individual, national and cup play

The game also has a Team Editor for making changes to formations, line ups, renaming and transferring players. This was pretty straightforward, although the menu layouts again are more complicated than they need to be. In general, the team management funcationality worked well, although selections require scrolling through the lists vs. simply tapping a selection.

Most play time will focus on the league, club and cup play. The game offers 5 levels of difficulty: junior, amateur, intermediate, professional, and legends. You also have the ability to modify the duration of play from 5 to 20 minutes, choose from 12 different ball types, and strangely, whether or not you want to auto save games. In Exhibition play, you can select day or night play, as well as the type of weather (e.g. sun, rain, snow). Whatever you decide, replays can be viewed in various speeds and saved.

The game offers a selection of techno pop music tracks which you will either enjoy or find irritating…there won’t be any in between. Real Soccer/Football 2010 also has commentary which is hit or miss. The play calling was generic and in some cases, rather terse for supposed live sports commentary. However, one nice touch is that the commentator will say player names when appropriate.

The control scheme consists of either a floating virtual joystick or a fixed d-pad, both of which come with dual A/B action buttons. I found the floating virtual joystick worked well especially since it appeared wherever you touched on the left side of the screen. One shortcoming is that there isn’t a left/right invert option so the joystick and d-pad are permanently set on the left side of the screen.

While the joystick and d-pad control movement, a player sprint function is also available. Using the joystick, sprint is activated by dragging the stick as far as possible in the desired direction. With the d-pad, sprint is activated by tapping the pad twice or by shaking the device. For the most part, the sprint worked as advertised, and again, I prefer the floating joystick to the fixed d-pad.

The A/B action buttons have different functions on offense and defense, but passing and shooting on offense and sliding and tacking on defense are intuitive to use. In general, the floating joystick control scheme is noticeably improved from Real Soccer 2009.

The gameplay in Real Soccer/Football 2010 is decent and the AI is improved from the previous version. An identifying yellow ring with a directional pointer surrounds the player that you control both on offense and defense. The ring changes to an alternating red and yellow ring when a player is sprinting. I still noticed teammates running away from opponents on occasion, which was an issue in the previous release so that frustration is still there to a certain degree. Fortunately, you can switch control from player to player by tapping on the appropriate player. In addition, substitutions can be freely made throughout the game by both sides. As for online play, I managed to play a game which started off relatively smooth, and then gradually lagged to point where my game was disconnected.

Overall, gameplay was relatively straightforward, but doesn’t quite deliver a satisfying experience. Whether it’s the music, crowd noise, or the game commentary, the game just doesn’t convey the excitement or even intensity you’d expect. Frankly, the immersive experience was actually better in its predecessor. Real Soccer/Football 2010 is a solid game for what it is. If you have Real Soccer 2009 or better yet X2 Football, you may want to stick with those for the time being. If you’re looking for a new soccer game, then Real Soccer/Football 2010 may be right up your alley.

Albie Meter: 3.5 Stars (improved controls is offset by decent yet underwhelming gameplay; missing the immersive experience of its predecessor; improved AI, but teammates still need some brains)

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