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In-Depth Review

Real Soccer 2009

I prefer the American version of football, but I've always enjoyed soccer videogames. Gameloft's Real Soccer 2009 does an excellent job of providing a deep soccer experience, especially for anyone who follows the international game, but the touch-screen controls and defensive player handling hold it back a bit. Your mileage may vary, however.

For those who want a console-like soccer experience on a handheld, it's here: 198 teams with authentic player names and attributes; hundreds of players and 12 stadiums, all modeled in 3D; authentic crowd sounds and chants; and multiple game modes, including exhibitions, six cups, six leagues, the ability to practice penalty kicks (sorry, deciding a soccer game on penalty kicks is like deciding an NFL game on field goals), and three types of training exercises. Even though the game relies only on a control pad and two buttons, you can still execute a variety of moves simply by pressing a combination of the three. You perform throw-ins by tilting your iPhone or iPod touch, which is a nice touch.

He shoots! He...

Unfortunately, it's too easy for your fingers to slip off the controls, making it difficult to execute precise moves. While most of the time the action is centered on the screen, sometimes a player or the ball gets close to your fingers, making it difficult to see what's happening. I would definitely prefer a physical gamepad.

In addition, Real Soccer 2009 commits a sin that I've found in other soccer games: defensive control automatically switches to the player nearest the ball, which can become confusing when multiple defenders get too close. Many times I found myself thinking I was about to steal the ball away, only to realize control had switched to someone else, and now I was running the wrong way.

However, those two issues won't keep you from enjoying yourself, especially at the easiest of the three difficulty settings, where the game is more forgiving. Perhaps Marware's GameGrip would solve the controls problem, and it would be nice if I could turn off automatic switching of defenders. But that aside, there's a lot of depth here, much more than you might expect. Clearly the iPhone and iPod touch are a cut above standard handhelds, even most smartphones, but the big question is whether they can compete with the likes of the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP. Real Soccer 2009 certainly helps Apple make big strides in the latter area.

Just The Facts

from Gameloft

Street Price: $7.99 - From .

Pros:Deep gameplay; realistic graphics and sound

Cons:Touch-screen controls can be dicey; automatic switching of defensive player can be annoying

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