Game Reviews

Real Football 2010 (iPhone)

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Real Football 2010 (iPhone)

The more popular football becomes, the more the job of regulating spirals out of control. These days, the referee missing a blatant penalty or a goal wrongly ruled out for offside can be worth millions of pounds to a club.

The consequences of getting major decisions wrong has forced the game's governing body in Europe, UEFA, to take rather drastic measures this season. Matches in the Europa League are now regulated by six officials rather than the standard four, but such wholesale changes are hardly surprising when you consider just what's at stake.

The serious side of football certainly hasn't escaped the attention of the bods at Gameloft, its Real Football franchise making great strides each year to make sure it does the sport justice. Its iPhone outings, however, fall between two stalls: the hardware on offer making 3D footy a reality, while at the same time highlighting the limitations of touchscreen control.

To this end, those returning to the fold having exhausted last year's release (and we were huge fans of iPhone Real Football 2009 when it turned up) will either be delighted or dismayed to find that this edition's controls are largely the same. An on-screen directional pad takes charge of both direction and speed, while tackling and shooting remain assigned to the 'A' button, 'B' pressing the player in possession and passing.

As a result, the matches themselves retain the series' trademark focus on passing and moving your way into the box before firing it past the keeper remaining intact. It all makes for entertaining, if not especially realistic contests, where goals are ten-a-penny and tame no-score draws are almost impossible.

Not content with the status quo, however, Gameloft has also had a good stab at taking on the feature-list of its console counterparts. Commentary – though brief, and entertainingly odd – makes an appearance, while the ability to edit team names so that they reflect the clubs across the globe we love and hate in equal measure assuring that the likes of 'A. Birmingh' and 'Merseyside' can be confined to history after a quick tap or two.

Such changes are strictly superficial, though. Where Real Football 2010 excels is in its variety of modes. Beyond taking your chosen team through an entire season (league, cup and European matches all tied in), an online global league has been added where match wins earn points to move you up the table. There's also the FIFA-esque Enter the Legend mode that has you take charge of a player in an effort to catapult them into the limelight.

Sadly, this mode suffers from the same faults that beset the mobile version of Real Football 2010. The lack of a fixed camera on your player making tracking just where you are on the pitch and playing in position a painful, almost futile, exercise. It's a piece of shoddy design that makes Enter the Legend seem like nothing more than an afterthought.

Nevertheless, it's multiplayer that has the most potential to win over fans with new online and Bluetooth options. The problem is, while the slightly smudgy controls are tolerable in the solo matches, the slightest lag makes the game almost unplayable online.

Success against a real foe is often more about judging the time delay than it is any amount of skill. With play stuttering and stalling whenever you take on an opponent with a stodgy connection, the game's limitations become painfully obvious.

It sounds especially damning, but Real Football 2010's ambitions are over and above the gameplay it currently offers. Though undeniably great fun for a quick kick-about and with the kind of variety only usually found on home consoles, some of its elements will need reworking from the ground up if its online aspirations are to be met.

Offline, it's still a very solid effort, of course. But owners of last year's edition may want to think a little about whether to 'upgrade' or stick with what they already own.

Real Football 2010 (iPhone)

Ambitious and serious fun in short bursts, but imperfect controls and laggy online multiplayer hold Real Football 2010 back from making the leap from entertaining kick-about to a full-on football fiesta
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.