App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Gameloft has made a living by reconstructing the conceit of other games specifically with iOS gamers in mind. In some cases the result has been a smashing success, while in others it has blown up in their faces. This year's Real Soccer entry is one of the latter. Attempting to take what EA Sports has done so successfully and add a free-to-play approach to the genre is a calculated risk, but one that they hope will ultimately pay off in the end. Is this trip onto the pitch another winner for the venerable brand, or simply a poorly executed friendly?
The development team seems to have taken note of last year's abysmal Let's Golf 3, and has moved micro-transactions farther into the background this time around. While purchases are not critical to a player's success, they can certainly speed up certain aspects of the leveling outside of the stadium.
Don't go into Real Soccer 2013 looking for any sort of exhibition or multiplayer modes. The core, and also ONLY mode of play, is franchise. A team is selected and the player guides the squad through reconstruction from peons into a powerhouse. Money is earned through winning matches on the field, gaining sponsorships, and pleasing fans. This cash is then used to upgrade team facilities and staff. Fans of the minutia of the sport may find this level of micromanagement extremely satisfying. Too bad that degree of control doesn't extend to the field as well.
On the pitch, issues are evident almost immediately. For one, matches seem to last a handful of minutes at most and there is no way to control the speed at which the clock ticks. Complicating matters further, if there is ever extra time added, this period is excruciatingly longer than what is realistic, especially given how fast the clock ticks during regulation. As for defense, it always feels like the game takes too long to switch between players, and when said player is eventually selected, rarely is it the logical decision that the user would expect. This is a core gameplay breakdown. There is a manual way to select a player on the field to control, but it involves actually removing a hand from the face buttons and touching said athlete, an unacceptable solution.
For folks that are fans of footie on a budget, there is plenty to appreciate in Real Soccer 2013. Unfortunately the flawed control scheme where it matters most, on the field, will likely leave gamers crawling back to EA. Just do yourself a favor and fork out the well deserved coin for FIFA 13 instead. At the end of the day it all boils down to the old adage, "you get what you pay for."