Right off the bat, Real Soccer 2009 has two things going against it. First, it is a soccer game; a sport that isn’t really that popular here in the US. Secondly, it is going up against the juggernaut that is EA Sport’s FIFA soccer franchise. Because of these hurdles, Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2009 will probably get overlooked. This is unfortunate because the design and implementation that went into this title really does rival the best soccer games on the system.
If you cannot distinguish from the title of the game, this is a soccer sim as opposed to having a more arcadey touch like Sega’s Soccer Slam. The realism of this title will surely please any soccer fan as the graphics, playability, and computer AI all look and behave as if little humans were placed in polygon suits and trapped into your DS system. Everything from choosing offensive and defensive strategies, how the players move, and even how the camera pans as if watching a game on your television all put the “real” in Real Soccer.
The game’s overall interface and controllability is solid and noteworthy. Besides the typical d-pad control scheme, players now have the option to switch to stylus play at any time. When using the stylus, the player still controllers the players with the d-pad, but all ball control is performed by drawing lines on the touch screen. To pass, trace a path to your desired destination. To shoot, just tap the screen. To lob up the ball, arc the line. It sounds gimmicky, but works better than you expect and offers a new way to play the game.
Unlike EA’s FIFA franchise, Real Soccer does not use the official professional soccer license. This means that players and teams will not accurately represent their real life counterparts. Because this game will be compared to other soccer titles on the system, not using the official license will be looked upon negatively. However, for gamers who know very little about soccer and just want a realistic interpretation of how the game is played on the field, then using made up names, teams, and stadiums will not make a difference. This is really the only aspect of this game that isn’t “real.”
All the basic gameplay modes that you expect to be in a soccer game are here including a league mode, exhibition, practice and multiplayer (multi-cart only). While these modes fulfill the needs of a soccer title, this game lacks any kind of creative and extra gameplay modes that could offer that little bit of extra spice to keep the taste from getting too dull and dried out. There is a penalty kick mini game, but it hardly qualifies as fun because of its high difficulty level and incredibly quick pace.
Besides the lack of any extra gameplay modes, it is a bummer to see this game without WiFi connectivity. Multipak link is available, but taking this game online would have been the best way to go. Like the attitude of the Chicago Cub’s fans, there is always next year.
Graphically, the game looks just as how you would expect a sim on DS to look. The camera is always user friendly, the menus are easy to navigate, the 3D character models look and move realistically for a DS game, and I never experienced a drop in frames. As for the audio department, well, there really isn’t much to talk about. The biggest absence is the lack of voice commentary. Because there is no announcer, hearing the crowd roar will be the most sound you hear from the DS’s speakers.
Real Soccer 2009 is a surprisingly good game considering the stiff competition. The lack of the official soccer license, creative gameplay modes, WiFi multiplayer, and real time commentary are absent from this package, but the gameplay will still be loved by fans of the sport. Also, this game has a significantly lower price point than other soccer titles on the system (I have seen it as low as $9.99 new). If you need your soccer fix every year, don’t let this one sit on the shelf.