Can Gameloft score a hat-trick with their third installment of Real Football on the iPhone?
Well, we’ve boasted about meeting World Cup winner David Villa, we’ve given you our first impressions of Real Football 2011, we’ve even got a competition up in honour of it’s release where you can win a signed David Villa shirt!
This however, is the big moment where we find out if Real Football 2011 (or Real Soccer 2011, for everyone in the USA) is the top performer for iPhone’s most impressive football game or if it’s doomed for relegation.
Let’s get right into it then! Upon launch you’re greeted with a visually sleeker menu system which is a big improvement over last years attempt to mimic the World Cup’s colour scheme. The team selection has also improved, displaying up to 21 teams on the screen at one time for instant, easier selection so you can kick off a match quicker. Controls remain the same as last year, with a shoot and pass button that when held or tapped will perform more advanced shots and through balls. Touch gestures such as drawing a circle or tapping on the empty space of the screen will make your player perform skills like step overs and roulettes. There’s the addition of a sprint button this year too, but if you are privy to the sprint being activated from the virtual stick as in last years version, you can activate this in the options menu.
When you get into your first match the first thing you’ll notice is the immediate improvement in graphics, and the way the players move. The animation is much more fluid here and Real Football 2011 utilises the iPhone 4′s retina display beautifully, not a dodgy looking pixel in sight. The stadiums looks fantastic, the crowds are animated and detailed, the grass on the pitch is sharp and you will even see the skid marks on the pitch when you go for an aggressive tackle. These do fade out after a few seconds though.
The graphics may be improved but the player models are still generic. Even though the feel of controlling a real life footy game is created beautifully here on the iPhone, when Rooney and Gerrard look almost identical and nothing like their real life counterparts the illusion is shattered. Although a FIFPro license for various names and likenesses is boasted, you’ll have a bit of a difficulty recognising those famous faces. Any die hard football fan will want their team to look like themselves, and not all team names and badges are equal to their real life counterparts which is a big disappointment and a bit of a fail when the concept here is to go with as close to real football as possible.
Another lack of realism is the commentary. There is barely any improvement over last years, leaving it bland and clunky at best. The way sentences are strung together feel like something out of an older football game, with a blatant inconsistency in vocal excitment. In addition when I switched app to check my email, as you do, and went back to my match, I noticed the commentary had stopped all together, and on a second time I app switched, the game froze completely and I had to quit the match and start again. So clear evidence there are still a few bugs that need working out here, but let it be noted I tried to simulate this crash a second time and it did not happen.
Back to the good news, Real Football 2011 is a jam packed game, full of modes that bypass the standards for any portable device these days. All of last years modes are returning for another season like ‘Enter the Legend’, where your objective is to create your own player and raise him through the ranks. Although this mode can be fun, it can also be incredibly boring when you’re sitting on the bench for about 80 minutes of the match and get all of two passes in the actual game. Other modes include what you would expect as standard from any football games like Season Mode, Cup, Penalty shootout and League mode. The man of the match here though is the new ‘History mode’ and is my personal favourite. In History Mode you replay classic matches from the past, with specific objectives set that need to be fulfilled before you can progress to the next match. Starting a match 20 minutes in, 1-0 down and the only way you can proceed to the next challenge is to win the match by scoring at least 2 goals is the first challenge and a great way to enter the mode. All the challenges increase in difficulty as you complete them. My only gripe with this mode is the line-up in some these more classic replays are all the current teams, so when you play a match back from 2005, you’ll have the today’s lineup.
A feature that has become essential over the years in football games is the ability to edit your teams, transfer players so you can keep everything as up to date with real life. Gameloft don’t fail here as you can change both the team and player names and make transfers yourself which is good, so ‘London’ becomes ‘Arsenal’ and ‘Man Blu.’ becomes ‘Man City’ etc… Multiplayer offerings are wifi and Bluetooth, but no online play. As with the previous game an RSS ticker runs across the bottom giving you the latest scores from various leagues, so you can keep updated while you play.
I can’t bring myself to score the game higher than last years release. Real Football 2011 is an easy, pick up and play football title, packed with features and game modes as well as major improvements in the area of graphics and animation. The lack of official badges, team names however works against raising the final score and with football games like Fifa 11 in the sports genre raising the bar this year too, Real Football 2011 simply hasn’t improved enough to warrant a full five.