Football (or Soccer) games come thick and fast on the home consoles, with yearly retail updates released to the key franchises, such as FIFA and Pro Evolution. These games rely heavily on thumb-stick and button combinations for control, so it came as a surprise that Gameloft were bringing their Real Soccer franchise to iPhone…
Real Football 2009 boasts ’3D graphics worthy of the best handheld soccer games’, featuring 198 teams and 6 leagues (with real player names, but not likenesses) across 6 of the worlds best stadiums including Milan, Manchester and Madrid.
So, how does it play? Well, pretty good. To get round the control issue, Gameloft have added an onscreen D-pad and A + B button overlay. I was initially sceptical that this would work with a game like football, where reactions are key, but they work almost flawlessly. The only gripe is that if your thumb slips off the d-pad it won’t register the movement, a problem that comes down to zero tactile feedback to your thumb. A nice added feature is that throw-ins are controlled entirely by tilt control. Tilt left to right to aim, and then flick forward to throw. It’s a nice touch, and works well. Using various combinations it’s possible to pull off many different moves, including dribbles, short passing, long passing, lob’s, fakes, one-two’s and step overs. With only two buttons this is done by adding dragging motions with your finger which adds secondary control to the button’s key moves.
From the main menu you can get right into a game through the exhibition mode, or play in full Cups and Leagues. You can also take part in a penalty shoot out mini game, or hit the training ground for useful tips on how to pull off all the moves. For a mobile game it’s pretty deep, allowing you check stats on the other teams, get full tournament info, change formations and manage your substitutions, and even change your shirts.
I’m no pro when it comes to Football games, in one of my first league matches I managed to get both Rooney and Ronaldo (famous Manchester United players) sent off within the first few minutes, with some overzealous tackling of the opposing goal keeper. I still managed to win however, though admittedly this was down to having the game on easy mode, and not through any skill of my own. The one goal I did score I was able to re-live over and over again by using the great replay feature, allowing you to move the camera to any angle, fast forward, rewind and play back in slow-mo.
Gameloft’s boast on the graphics is well founded. The full 3D stadiums look good (if a little low poly), with nice texture work. Player animation is solid, though all players look the same, and the framerate is fluid. Colour is on the arcade side of reality, with vivid greens on the pitch, colourful crowds and blue skies. The camera follows the action well, whether it’s panned out for main play, or over the shoulder for throw in’s, corners and goal kicks.
Sound is no slouch either offering immersive effects such as authentic crowds chanting and cheering, and even singing, and the referees whistle, which I heard often. I got all patriotic when the crowd in the stands started singing ‘Rule, Britannia!’ The music is your standard sports fair, rock pop, but is only present in the menus.
Overall Real Football is a solid sports game, and is a great example of how console style games can be ported over to the iPhone with strong results. For football fans this is a must. And for amateurs like myself its a fun, if challenging, experience.
Presentation & Graphics: 8
PSP style presentation. Full 3D run’s smooth, but it’s a little low poly. Player models are generic and only feature the names of real players, and not their likenesses.
Atmospheric sound effects are great, but average music stops this from being a full 10
The core video football game is there, as fully fledged as current console football, aside from multiplayer. Controls work better than expected, and prove that virtual D-pads can work.
Game life: 8
Plenty of gamelife for the football fan, with many cups and leagues to play through. Levels of difficulty and game length can be changed for the advance player. Exhibition mode, and penalty shootout is fun for the newbies.
Game rating: 8
Shave your head, grab a can of Tennants Super and sing your national anthem at the top of your lungs. It’s a deep footballing experience and at £5.99 ($9.99) it’s good value. Real Football 2009 is available to buy here.