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Review: Real Soccer 2009

September 10, 2008
Overview In case its incredible graphics and game depth aren’t enough to impress you, Real Soccer 2009’s shockingly comprehensive controls will have you mesmerized and hooked in minutes. Stepovers, through balls, one-twos and spin moves aren’t supposed to be possible in a cell phone game, but this app does it all, and in a fun and flexible format. It’s a must-have for soccer fans.


A two-button virtual pad may seem limiting, but this game’s creative use of tapping and dragging allows for an amazing amount of control. From lob passes and conservative tackles to fake shots and Marseille roulettes (couldn’t they just call it a spin move?) the in-game possibilities are stunning.

Real Soccer (as opposed to fake soccer) also offers a variety of game modes and options. Users can play a quick exhibition match with European club teams, go for the Premiership title in league play or take on the world in an international cup tournament. There is even a penalty kick shootout mini-game and also a training mode to brush up on the controls. The length, difficulty, place and time of matches are all flexible (although there are only 12 locations to choose from) as are team jerseys, formations, lineups and substitutions.

Unfortunately there is no multiplayer option at the moment (although it is set to be included in the next app update) and, although the game has real player names, the club teams and logos don’t seem to be licensed for most leagues, which isn’t a big deal since the players and team colors are the same, but seeing “Man. Red” instead of Manchester United, or “London” instead of Arsenal, was odd. And no, you can’t play with the Los Angeles Galaxy.


Real Soccer is amazing. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it’s darn close. Its graphical beauty and variety of gameplay options have made it the early standard-bearer in iPhone sports games and the app is so well done that it’s genuinely difficult to put down. I’ll admit, I had no idea what a Marseille roulette was, but as soon as I started tracing circles on my screen I fell in love with the move. And it was so easy to do, a testament to the game’s intuitive controls. The flexibility of the app was also impressive, although the maximum game duration is capped at 15 minutes, so don’t plan on any 90-minute iPhone nail-biters. Also, while users can elect to play in the snow, no frozen-tundra-style snow storms seem to materialize during the game (although the grass does appear to be whiter than normal). But snow or no snow, who cares?! A 3D soccer game that lets you do a “flip flap” (that’s a juke move, for those of us not in-the-know) is worthy of being snow-less!

That said, there are some problems, like the 8-way directional pad, which is useful because it lets users run diagonally, but obviously doesn’t function like a real-life d-pad would and takes some getting used to (I had problems with rolling my thumb from one direction to the other when I should have been rotating my finger along the outer ring of the d-pad to change direction). Also, the artificial intelligence of the players isn’t the greatest (it can be frustrating when a pass is played back to the goalkeeper, who remains behind the goal line, allowing for an own-goal). Of course, it’s the worst in easy mode and is much better in hard mode (it also improves depending on the quality of your team) but, to be honest, the A.I. is more than adequate for an iPhone game. It only really seems bad in easy mode and does approach the quality of other household soccer titles. Any gameplay frustration can be addressed in the training mode, which is simple, but will familiarize users with the controls and will quickly improve skills. One key option that seems to be missing is the ability to call for a run (that’s to send a player running into open space so that a through pass can be timed). While this doesn’t exist, runs do occur and any through balls played usually get teammates to run onto them. Lastly, while players like Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry are there for you to enjoy, something terribly wrong happened with the American team. Brian McBride seems to be listed as “McBrude” and all of the other names seem to be misspelled as well. As funny as this is, it was probably done intentionally and must not have been a part of the name licensing that Gameloft obtained for other teams and players.

All in all, this is an impressive start. Some improvements in the gameplay, A.I. and the addition of a WiFi multiplayer mode will push this game to an even higher level, although even now it makes your PSP seem closer to obsolescence.


Real Soccer 2009’s graphics, controls and variety of game modes will leave you in an astounded stupor. It’s a great game that is likely to improve with updates, including the upcoming addition of WiFi multiplayer mode, and is definitely worth your money. If you’re a soccer fan, you shouldn’t be depriving yourself of this fun-filled title.

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