Soccer games tend to be either all about the graphics or all about the gameplay. My favourite soccer game is still Sensible Soccer for the Amiga. I have followed the evolution on PC and consoles, Fifa 95 was really good, Fifa 98 even better with the Blur Song 2 as theme song. Then came a worthy competitor in the form of Pro Evolution Soccer. Both titles evolved, and I tried them both for the Xbox360. What started as easy to pick up and play with your mates games had turned into dual stick ten button simulation attempts. Needless to say I got bored. Then Pro Evolution Soccer showed up on the Wii in a dumbed down version where you pointed where players should run. Fifa for Wii wasn’t better, actually the extra foosball game was better than the main game. So why am I rambling about games on the completely wrong consoles? Because finally for the iPhone the fun in footy titles have been restored. Real Soccer 2009 released in September of 2008 pawed the road with truly fun easily controlled soccer. Real Soccer never dropped the torch, instead X2 Soccer 2009 picks it’s own torch and runs with it.
X2 Soccer 2009 is a fantastic soccer game. It plays like a combination of Sensible Soccer and Fifa 98 while looking just as good as Real Soccer. You only have three buttons to keep track on. A virtual joystick appears on the left side of the screen when you put your thumb onto it. The functions of the buttons change depending on ball possession. When defending they let you change controlled player, pressure opponent to get the ball and do a sliding tackle. When in possession the buttons let you pass, cross pass and shoot. Easy to understand and get into. The first time you start the game you are thrown straight into practise. The controls are explained during the loading screens.
X2 Soccer 2009 looks great in all aspects I think. Small details that aren’t really necessary are there such as player shadows, a varied crowd and commercial signs surround the field. When in motion I can’t believe I am playing this on my phone. When I thought it couldn’t get better I scored, and the replay mode showed up. This is what I expect on a Xbox 360. Being able to go back and forth the seconds before I shoot is really cool. Changing angles, and viewpoint without as much as a stutter from the iPhone. You can also play using different points of view. I prefer the up-down perspective as seen in Sensible Soccer but seeing it from the sideline works just as well.
The commentators are good, and I haven’t felt them to be too repetitive. I can’t understand how this massive amount of speech can be found within 80.9 MB.
The only drawback I find is the lack of game modes. There are only quick match, penalty shootouts, practise and tournament modes. No online or local multiplayer mode in the current version, but I guess that there is something planned in future updates as the stats in-game is specified as concerning single player. Within tournament mode you can play different leagues as well, but only with national teams. Penalties are really fun, you just flick your finger to shoot. As a goalie you have two virtual hands to place where you want the keeper to throw himself. I really enjoy just doing penalties when I have too little time to complete a match. As a matter of fact the game is really good at saving your current match if you get a call.
Tactics and team selection is what you should expect from any footy title of today. There are 50 national teams to play with, all with real player names. You can play tournament, and make sure to beat Italy and France silly. Club Teams had been nice, and imperative to having proper league play but the game is really worth the price of seven bucks for just the national teams. The AI plays quite well, and I don’t feel like it is cheating on harder levels of difficulty. I have not beaten it on the hardest setting yet, but I can feel that I will eventually.
If you have already got Real Soccer 2009 and enjoy it you would probably love X2 Soccer 2009 as well. If you have neither, and look for your first soccer game on the iPhone I would recommend X2 Soccer 2009 first.
Presentation and graphics
X2 Soccer 2009 has great presentation in all aspects, with a superb attention to detail. Runs smoothly without any slowdowns on my iPhone 3G. Players look a bit blocky, but this is not disturbing the experience. I really enjoy the 3-d replays, makes me want to shoot beautiful goals.
Commentaries that feels relevant to the situations on the field. The music, crowd and sound effects are all good. You can play your own music, and still keep both crowd and commentator audio. Brilliant.
Plays like an arcade soccer game while always feeling realistic. It is an easy game to pickup yet hard to master completely. The controls are responsive and precise.
A lack of club teams, and club leagues, brings the gamelife down a notch. Still you have cups and leagues to win, and the game keeps track of your stats and won tournaments. No online or multiplayer funcionality is a huge downer. If you are into soccer you will get ample out of X2 Soccer 2009.
I am still blown away, I didn’t expect this level of quality and fun from a developer I have never heard of before. Try the lite version that lets you do penalties and practise to see if it is a game for you, I bet it is. To conclude X2 Soccer 2009 is all about both the gameplay and the graphics.
Note: It is called X2 Soccer 2009 in the US App Store, but when I play on my iPhone it says X2 Football 2009.