IGN Review of Real Soccer 2009
When it comes to soccer videogames, two series immediately come to mind: FIFA and Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution. Both franchises have dedicated fan followings and a lot to offer soccer enthusiasts in general. Let it be known, however, that (on the portable front) FIFA and Winning Eleven need to be on the lookout for Real Soccer 2009 DS.
Real Soccer 2008 (released as Real Football 2008) hit US shelves back in February. Other than a gimmicky shout at the ref via the DS mic feature, Real Soccer 2008 was a fairly generic soccer title. Well, Real Soccer 2009 has dropped the silly mic usage in favor of great AI and solid controls.
Real Soccer 2009 is the total package. From its smooth flowing start up menu you can select from Exhibition, Game Modes, Multiplayer, and Training. Exhibition is a straight forward "pick your team and play a single game against the computer" affair, and multiplayer allows for up to four person multi-card play.
The heftiest of options comes from selecting the Game Modes menu. Here you can choose from Cup, League, Penalty Kick, and Trophies. Cup allows you to choose from six different cup-seeking journeys ranging from the African Cup to the International.
Selecting League will allow you to pick any of the two hundred teams and play through an entire season. Each team has its own stats representing their overall skill level, allowing you to select a team that's already a powerhouse or a struggling team that will put your own skills to the test.
Penalty Kick is just a simulation of Real Soccer's in-game penalty shot. When kicking, select from six areas of the net and gauge how hard you want to kick. As the goalie, you also select one area of the net and hope that you made the right choice. All in all, it's a split second mini-game, but a fun one.
Now that you know what different ways there are to play Real Soccer, let's talk about how you play them. Real Soccer 2009 offers two distinct playing styles. There's the traditional face button layout and an interesting touch screen approach.
Both traditional and touch play options offer differing move sets for offense and defense. The traditional layout makes great use of the face buttons. Basic moves like passing and shooting are easy to do and responsive, and more advanced moves like through passes and Marseille Roulettes are easy to master.
As mentioned, Real Soccer also offers a touch based play mode. Playing a game in touch makes use of the d-pad and the touch screen. You still use the d-pad to move your players around, but all of your executable moves (passes, shots, etc.) are performed by drawing various lines or shapes on the touch screen.
The moves in touch play respond fairly well to even the sloppiest of entries, but remembering which pattern invokes which move can be a strenuous task. Remembering which type of zig-zag line means a one-two and which one means a flip-flap on the fly is fairly difficult.
Like a lot of sports games today, you can monitor the status of individual athletes on your team. Team members have an almost RPG-like stat roster including each person's Attack, Defense, Power, Speed, and so on. Knowing when to substitute a tired player for one that is on fire makes a big difference against difficult teams.
Another interesting team-oriented option is found under the formation tuning menu. This mode allows you to see an overhead view of the field and icons representing each member of your team. From here, you can move the icons to take position anywhere you desire on the field. Icons are moved with the stylus and give a decent enough "coach's playbook" feel.
Graphically, Real Soccer 2009 (and by extension its developer Gameloft) seem to be getting away from their cell phone roots. Character models could be more detailed, but the looks don't hinder the solid gameplay. You can see more of the stadium when lining up for corner kicks, and the overwhelming sight of the crowd adds to a game's intensity.
While the graphics are on the positive side of the spectrum, Real Soccer 2009 could use a boost in the music department. Aside from the main menu jam, Real Soccer only features a few sparse intervals of an actual soundtrack. Commentary is absent entirely, which (when done right) can really add to the sports game experience.
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