With the World Cup creeping ever closer, and the whole world nervously biting their finger nails in the hope that their team will lift the cup in seven weeks time, it falls to the virtual game to contain our excitement that little bit longer.
The big guns EA have already shown their hand with an update to FIFA 10, with FIFA World Cup South Africa. But can X2 Games, the creators of the excellent X2 Football 2009, give them a run for their money with their sequel?
Well first, let’s be clear that unlike the FIFA spin off this isn’t a world cup game. It features international teams for sure, but in no way does it include any details of the world cup itself, this is due in part to EAs monopoly on the official world cup license. Having said that I don’t feel the game really suffers because of this, with the gameplay itself shining through.
Essentially not a lot has changed from the core game of X2 2009, and I’m all for the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. Instead this is more of an update with refined controls, graphics and some new added value features.
The first of these new features is Dream team mode. As the tile suggests it let’s you build a team from scratch and work your way up through the ranks. As you progress, and if you are successful, you can earn tokens to pay for big player names and eventually build that dream team you’ve always wanted. It’s a great addition to the standard tournament mode and adds some much needed variety.
The big addition though in this 2010 edition is online multiplayer. Offering both WiFi and Bluetooth local play and WiFi only online play you can go head to head in a friendly with another human opponent anywhere in the world. The interface works well, and smooth for the most part, with the occasional hanging. However, the multiplayer itself has been hit and miss with every online game I’ve played suffering from terrible lag. This is no doubt down to the Internet speed of both yourself and the online opponent… But it would have been good to see some server side support for hosting of games. Local games fair better, but occasionally I experienced slowdown over Bluetooth, and when not in the immediate viscinity of the router. With multiplayer one of the main assets for upgrading to this version from 2009, it’s a little disappointing.
Luckily, for fans of the the original and newcomers, there are two other improvements worth mentioning, and thats both smarter AI and the controls. Previously the computer Ai, and that of your team mates, could be a little brainless. But now they are more likely to be in the right position in set pieces and more skillful opponents on the offensive.
The controls have been tweaked slightly too, I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s changed but they are more responsive and accurate. However, speaking of putting my finger on things, I’d like to see more control options, particularly implementing the ability to tap directly on a player to select them, instead of relying on the player select button to scroll to the right player, it’s more direct and intuitive.
The previous entry was easily one of the better looking football games out there on the iPhone, and 2010 doesn’t disappoint here either, building on the engine from last year it now features 3GS optimisation giving everything a more polished look. Weather effects look pretty good to, but nothing looks better here than when it’s a nice clear day with a lush green pitch. Textures are crisp and detailed, particularly the pitch itself, and the player models look and move with more realism. The replays and camera controls are a joy to use. I’d say X2 2010 is still the one to beat amongst footie games on iPhone in the graphics department.
X2 games have built on the previous game to produce another excellent footie game. Much like other football series on other platforms, if you are not a big fan of the sport then there may not be enough to warrant a purchase if you already own 2009. But for fans, the dream team mode and updated players and teams, plus the improvements in both gameplay and visual fidelity will be a sweet enough deal, not to mention the nerdy RSS feed keeping you up-to-date with the real football news. Don’t buy just for online multiplayer as I cannot guarantee zero connection problems.
X2 Football/Soccer 2010 is out now for $6.99. Get it on