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Real Football 2010, the follow up to the much lauded first football sim to hit the App Store, feels more like an expansion of its predecessor than a fully fledged sequel, and in my opinion mostly fails to do due justice to the intense level of pre-release expectation. Despite some significant additions in terms of game modes and some evidence of tweaking and sprucing, a year on from taking the iPhone/Pod world by storm, this Real Football proves something of a damp squib.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was sat at home writing reviews and fighting to keep my head above the ever-rising waterline of mounting deadlines. Today, however, I'm, sat at home writing reviews and fighting deadlÖOK, so not everything changes much in a year, but, surely, when it comes to Real Football 2010, a whole year spent working on the rough yet exciting edges of one of 2009's most highly praised iPhone/Pod releases will have worked wonders? Right?
Wrong. The first thing that struck me as I breezed straight through the menu and into a game was that, in fact, very little seemed to have changed at all. While some smoothing and polishing is apparent, the vast majority of in-game aspects have remained basically the same. Now don't get me wrong, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Real Football 2009 was aesthetically acceptable, and, to be fair, of all the areas of real promise it gestured towards, graphical and audio excellence were not high up the list. However, it didnít strike me as a good sign that this sequel looked and felt nearly identical to its forerunner.
Happily, Gameloft have stuck with the ingenious, satisfying and surprisingly accurate flick mechanic when it comes to lofting passes or shots
Although some aspects of the control scheme have been altered, some annoyances that I had particularly anticipated being addressed are still in there, and some of the new features donít really seem to make things work better. For example, although the virtual d-pad is no longer locked in one precise spot allowing my left thumb more flexibility in terms of positioning, the issue of it covering too much of the screen while I'm exaggerating the direction of a player's movement to make him sprint, is as bad as ever.
Happily, Gameloft have stuck with the ingenious, satisfying and surprisingly accurate flick mechanic when it comes to lofting passes or shots - touching on the appropriate button and then flicking upwards sends the ball in the air in a way that is far more intuitive than it should be. However, the need for a third button dedicated to changing players whilst defending is just as serious as it was previously - the addition of being able to tap on a particular player to change to him really does nothing to make this most necessary of operations any simpler or more accurate than it was before. Sorting this simple but disruptive mechanic would certainly have been high on my list of changes and I'm stunned it hasn't been tackled more effecively.
In fact, fleshing out the defensive aspects of the Real Football experience in general would have been high up on my list of refinements to 2009's offering. However, it seems Gameloft had a different agenda and the in game action remains a pretty unbalanced affair. While it does make for high scoring fun, in my opinion there is only so long a game whose title emphasises its realism can get away with creating an environment in which goals are so easy to score and defence is of seemingly so little import.
The area of the game into which the vast majority of attention seems to have been poured is the game modes - an impressive array of options are now available. Not only can you can lead your team through a tournament or whole season and play multiplayer games online or via Bluetooth, there is also Enter the Legend mode which, mimicking the big-boys, allows you to control one player and manage his career. The main problem is that since simple friendly play is not that well balanced or satisfying, when all's said and done the more elaborate modes suffer the exact same problems. What is more, Enter the Legend mode is rendered almost unplayable by a (literally) ridiculous camera mechanic (which fails to keep your player in view) and both the multiplayer modes suffer badly from lag and stutter.
Real Soccer 2010 has ambitions way beyond what it can actually deliver.
Real Soccer 2010 has ambitions way beyond what it can actually deliver. In my opinion Gameloft have attempted to jump straight from a rough, surprisingly promising debut on this platform, to an expansive, fully fleshed football game without actually putting the work into the areas that most needed it. Unfortunately, like so many millionaires who think that building a great football team is simply a matter of buying loads of expensive players, they seem to have forgotten that the basics need to be consolidated at every stage.
While it retains many, if not all, of the charms of its younger sibling, Real Football 2010 mostly fails to convert all that promise into a game that can sustain interest over time. May of the additions - the hilarious commentary that's basically just a dull description of what's happening ("p-a-s-s-e-s i-t t-o t-h-e l-e-f-t, b-a-c-k t-o t-h-e c-e-n-t-r-e" and so on), the elaborate game modes, the new changer player mechanic - seem to me to miss the mark in the light of the failure to deal with the weaknesses in the core experience; after all, a whole season of unfulfilling games still leaves you unfulfilled.
With existing competition from X2 Football 2009 (reviewed last week) and FIFA for the iPhone just around the corner, I'm simply not convinced Real Football 2010 has done enough to maintain the franchise's top of the table credentials.
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