Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Anyone who has ever played any of the FIFA or Winning Eleven/PES soccer games on their consoles or PC will understand the reasoning for all those buttons on your standard controller. While a casual gamer can get by with only a few buttons and an analog stick, the truly devout will spend hours practicing and memorizing the many button combinations to produce tricks that even Ronaldinho would be proud of. How then, you ask, has Gameloft managed to bring what is traditionally a very complex game to the handheld? Not only that, how have they brought it to a handheld with no buttons? Impressively it is something they have managed quite well, producing a game that is simple enough for the average player to pick up, but deep enough to satisfy the finesse players amongst us. Don’t get me wrong, Real Soccer 2010 won’t have you doing rabonas and rainbows all over the pitch, however there’s a lot more to do than just pass and shoot.
[caption id="attachment_17317" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Lining up for a freekick, which I will undoubtedly miss"]
So let’s talk about the gameplay and controls. As you can see in the screenshots, you have an analog stick on the left for movement, which allows you to vary your speed by how far you push the stick. There are A and B buttons on the right for passing and shooting. Both of these have power bars if you hold long enough; holding on the pass button allows you to perform a through pass, and if you hold the pass button and push up you can perform a long pass or cross. Using these buttons off ball also allows you to close down and slide tackle, much like on consoles. The remainder of the controls come from tapping the screen. Tapping once off ball allows you to change player and while on the ball a double tap performs a fake, press and hold performs a continual step over, and rotating your finger allows your player to spin on the ball. They’re a nice touch which spices up your approach to playing, and can make the difference when trying to beat a defender.
The gameplay is generally good, and if you play a certain way on the console you will most likely be able to incorporate that into the mobile format. While I found myself most often attacking and easily dispossessing the opponents with my strikers and midfielders, it was often challenging to hold on to the ball. My tactic on the Xbox or PlayStation is to usually try and run straight through the defense, which rarely works, and I'm glad to see it is also generally pretty ineffective in Real Soccer too. You can lose the ball as easily as you gain it, and it does take some work to build up a decent attack. While you'd think that a portable version would be cruder in terms of gameplay than what's available on the console, I was pleasantly surprised while watching a friend give the game a go. Having only had it for a few minutes, he was immediately dancing around the penalty box, faking the defenders and trying to lob the keeper, just as he does on the console - generally while playing me. It was an impressive testimony to the mix of gameplay and controls in Real Soccer 2010, that allow this type of precision play.
[caption id="attachment_17328" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="The level of detail and statistics available are quite impressive"]
The game itself is absolutely huge. Not only does it boast around 250 teams from 8 leagues (plus select others) and national teams, but it also includes "nearly every real players’ name thanks to the FIFPro license." This is a nice inclusion which I commend Gameloft for obtaining the rights to. It makes the game significant more enjoyable to be playing with the real players and teams, although some club names have been changed slightly and club crests are also missing. Each player has numerous accompanying stats governing their ability on the pitch, which is especially useful if you find yourself playing the manager mode where you can buy and sell players over the duration of a season. This gameplay mode is one of eight separate game modes, offering everything from league play to 'Enter the Legend' (Gameloft's take on the increasing popular 'be a pro' style gameplay where you play as only one player and forge a career for yourself).
[caption id="attachment_17339" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Saha unleashes a shot at goal"]
The game is not without it's flaws though. Some of the menus, especially when navigating through your squad for substitutes or picking a team, are confusing and counter-intuitive. The game also lacks an up to date database, with nearly no summer transfers having been incorporated. The notable exceptions are the three major moves to Madrid, and Tevez to Man City. I can't imagine it would have been difficult for Gameloft to have at least incorporated the rest of the major summer transfers, however I imagine this could be fixed with an update if they so wished. The graphics also seem a little more pixelated along their edges than I would maybe have expected, however with so much going on on the screen at once this may be necessary to improve performance, which is always very smooth.
If you can't survive without soccer in your life, then I would certainly recommend Real Soccer 2010 as a worthy addition to your app library. Its pick up and play format as well as the deeper manager and career modes on offer ensure that every type of player, from the casual to the dedicated, will be satisfied. With Fifa 10 on its way, only time will tell how Real Soccer 2010 stacks up against the better known opposition, although I am sure it will be close. Look for that review when Fifa 10 hits the App Store.