This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Sports Games – Soccer, Golf, Air Hockey, Tennis + More. Additional details may be found in the original article.
The single best game this week is Real Soccer 2009 (aka Real Football 2009, $10) by Gameloft, which continues to demonstrate why it’s the iPhone’s best overall game developer. Unlike so many of the other titles we review below, Real Soccer 2009 is a fully realized 3-D game with the quality of design, graphics, and audio people should expect from an early iPhone OS title: it makes you realize what Apple’s pocket devices are really capable of, rather than leaving you wondering how the title passed any sort of approval process.
For those looking for a short, simple experience, you can play a penalty kick mode, try a practice game, or play an exhibition match; thanks to a FIFPRO license, the 198 teams range from national squads to famous cities within soccer-friendly countries, each with actual player names and stats. Those wanting more can play league games with local teams, and work to unlock 12 different cups with multi-round playoffs.
There’s as much to do here as any handheld game player might hope for, and the game saves progress mid-way through competitions so that you can return to where you left off.
Graphically and sonically, Real Soccer 2009 is a very strong first soccer title for the iPhone OS. There are 12 3-D modeled stadiums, complete with crowd chants, interesting-looking if not completely amazing stands, and nice fields. While none of this is the match of the best EA soccer titles released 10 years ago on leading CD-based platforms, it’s all far beyond what we’ve seen on the iPhone in other sporting games to date.
Control of your currently-selected player is handled through a translucent on-screen joypad and button overlay, and works quite well given the device’s current constraints, though not as precisely or unintrusively as could be accomplished with a separate joypad. You can zoom the camera to “near” or “far” positions relative to the “normal” default, but can’t manually change the angle or rotation, perhaps because of the need to keep the controls on the screen.
If there’s any issue with this title, it’s the cost. We’re still not sold on the idea of paying $10 for iPhone OS games, but if any piece of entertainment software we’ve seen contains enough overall labor, licensing, and polish to approach our standards for that price, Real Soccer 2009 would be the one. The next version will apparently include real-time Wi-Fi multiplayer support; if this feature or the price matter a lot to you, wait a little and you’ll probably be rewarded.