The World Cup is just weeks away, and people of all nationalities are daring to dream that their team might just go on to win the whole thing.
Except the Brazilians. They just expect to.
As our thoughts turn to football, so too (unsurprisingly) do those of game developers. This year we have two strong additions to the iPhone footy genre: EA's 2010 FIFA World Cup and X2 Football 2010 from Exient.
What with the first ever iPhone Pro Evo on the horizon, it’s going to be a good summer for iPhone footy fans.
But sticking with the present crop, how do 2010 FIFA World Cup and X2 Football 2010 match up? Obviously X2 got a superior score from us, but when placed back to back both games have their unique strengths and weaknesses.
Read on for our live match report of this top-of-the-table clash.
We’ll start with the most obvious and, for us, most important element. Which title plays the better game of footy?
With 2010 FWC, EA has sought to make the most approachable footy game possible given the number of casual footy fans that tend to come out of the woodwork in World Cup years. As such, the game is undoubtedly easier to grasp from the off than X2.
The virtual buttons are labelled clearly (unlike X2’s featureless grey blocks), changing dynamically according to the context of the situation. The passing system, too, is easy to pick up, with red and blue arrows highlighting your options at all times.
However, this accessibility leads to a rather rigid experience, where AI players (on both sides) move in predictable channels and moments of vision and creativity are stifled by an overly automated control system.
Compared to 2010 FWC’s solid but unspectacular Chelsea, then, X2 is a free flowing Barcelona.
Build up play feels far more fluid and passing less scripted, and you’ll soon be crafting fine pitch-spanning moves topped off by classy finishes.
Ultimately, 2010 FWC’s solid formation can only hold out so long against X2's quick and imaginative play.Winner: X2 Football 2010
It’s all very well having silky skills, but like it or not fans pay a lot of attention to how a footballer looks. Just ask Carlos Tevez.
So who wins out of 2010 FWC and X2 in the all important looks department?
Strangely, while neither game is bad looking, they’re not massively easy on the eye either. Both feature slightly odd looking players with featureless plastic heads, like they’ve escaped from an episode of Dr Who.
2010 FWC possibly gets the nod overall, particularly with the delightfully slick menu design and a slightly more cohesive aesthetic. But X2 is superior in other ways, such as some of the pitch textures and the weather effects.
Overall, though, 2010 FWC just edges this round with its trusty EA polish.Winner: 2010 FIFA World Cup
If you’re a hardcore footy fan, you’re going to place a lot of import on authenticity. Which game bears the closest resemblance to the beautiful game it emulates?
It’s a tricky one to call, taking into account the previous two rounds along with that vital, indefinable X factor.
On the one hand, 2010 FWC has all the right teams, names, kits and logos. It positively reeks of an authentic licensed product because, well, it is one.
In the hands and on the pitch, however, X2 feels far closer to the game we all know and love. You get the impression that the developer has a real understanding of the varying ways football can be played.
There’s scope for a variety of tactics, from neat tippy-tappy passing triangles to measured hoofs up to your target man in the hope of a flick on.
Ultimately, this round is impossible to call given the two games’ different approaches to authenticity.
If you’re a casual footy fan who is most interested in the atmosphere of a match, then 2010 FWC is the game that will most closely resemble what you’ll be seeing on telly throughout June.
If, however, you’re a football purist - the type of person who tunes in eagerly to see inconsequential pre-season friendlies between obscure European teams - then X2 is your game.Winner: Draw
As any football fan will tell you, the winner of a league title isn’t necessarily the team with the most talented players. Squad depth is perhaps the most important element in any modern team with aspirations of winning multiple competitions.
So which of these two footy games will still be standing on your playlist come the end of the forthcoming footy season?
2010 FWC is hampered from the off by its status as an official World Cup tie in. This places a natural life expectancy on it of around two months, and it’s true that we can’t see you wanting to come back to compete in the World Cup too often after the actual competition has passed.
Even the variety of ways in which you can approach the World Cup – playing through the qualifiers, skipping straight to the finals or even playing the role of a single player in Captain Your Country – fails to offer much appeal beyond the big event at the core.
X2, on the other hand, is packed full of teams and competitions (both international and club). It also sports the splendid Dream Team mode, which adds a new layer of depth to the game by allowing you to build your own team of superstars from scratch.
To top it all off, X2 has the benefit of online multiplayer, opening up a whole new level of competitive play. Admittedly it’s a little flaky at present, but we’d expect it to be much improved by the time the event in South Africa draws to a close.
Ultimately, X2 has the options on the bench to ensure that it will still be competing for your time at the end of a gruelling season.Winner: X2 Football 2010
So there we have it – a 2-1 victory to X2 Football 2010.
However, it’s worth nothing that casual fans and those particularly drawn to the spectacle of the forthcoming World Cup may well be better off with 2010 FWC’s flashier, more accessible brand of football.
For us, though – footy and gaming fans that we are – we’re only backing one iPhone game for glory this season. X2's superior feel and longevity makes it the champion of iPhone footy.
It'll be interesting to see if Konami's Pro Evo can mount a serious title challenge.