Do you consider yourself a soccer fan? How about a sports gamer? Maybe you’re just a cheap bastard? If you answered yes to any of these three questions, it’s time to download Real Soccer 2009 for DSi.
Why? Because the game is a fully-fledged, portable footie title with great gameplay and loads of options. Plus, it’s delivered sans cartridge and will only cost you 800 points ($8). There are a few drawbacks such as somewhat limited licensing, a lack of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support, and fairly meager DSi-specific options, but the overall package is an effort that gives the other big two in soccer gaming a kick in the grass!
Potential players should know that a bit more expansive version of the game, Real Football 2009, was published by Ubisoft back in November for DS. Of course, importing the title stateside and having to carry the cartridge around really is unnecessary when you can get a nearly identical port of the game via DSiWare – assuming you own a DSi. Moreover, this version will only cost you $8! Besides, the gameplay in this game is every bit as good.
For starters, every must-have soccer feature is packed into the title, including through-balls, one-twos, flip-flaps, roulettes, step-overs, simple crossing, sprinting, long balls, controlled shots, heading, etc. All of this is easily controlled via the D-pad, face-buttons, and shoulder buttons. These standard controls are extremely tight, allowing for precise and responsive gaming. Also included are creative, yet somewhat more-trouble-than-they’re-worth, touch controls. Pulling off feints, tackles, shots, passes, and one-twos are all done via swiping, holding, and drawing on the bottom screen. While I found these to be interesting, they simply can’t compare to the standard controls.
On the visual front, the game looks a lot like recent handheld versions of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES); even the cover art featuring Arsenal/Spain’s Cesc Fabregas and the font style used are highly reminiscent of the franchise. It’s also similar to FIFA; the sprites are pixelated and fuzzy, but the game still looks nice, overall. Like PES, while a lot of players and teams are licensed, Gameloft had to get clever in the way they represented some of them; i.e. Merseyside instead of Liverpool and McDrude, Nostrani, and Davonan instead of McBride, Mastroeni, and Donovan for the Yanks. I liked just how similar the names and representations are to their real-life counterparts. As such, I didn’t find it necessary to doctor the lineups, names, and flags. However, if things aren’t quite real enough for you, you can go ahead and snap shots with the DSi’s internal or external cameras. That means you can easily inject your likeness into your favorite team, capture the faces of your favorite players, or apply the true crest of your club or country via custom flags. Additionally, you can get silly by tinkering with the graphics on balls and the stadium big screen.
The realism doesn’t end there, however. Three stadiums are on offer, called Lorenzo, Redbrick, and Felipe that are identical recreations of the San Siro, Anfield, and the Bernabeu, respectively. On the other hand, the aural presentation is quite sparse. The opening theme is professional but nothing special, and the voiceover work is limited to an announcer belting out “Goooooooooool!” Still, I guess it’s better than an overly repetitive scheme that entirely misses the mark.
On an extremely positive note, there are a ton of sport-appropriate game modes that get serious fans into the mood. Other than simple exhibition matches, players can also take on cup and league modes. Cup mode will let you choose from various analogs to the World Cup, Euro, Champions League, a fusion between Gold Cup and Copa America, Asian Cup, and African Nations competitions.
In league mode, players can choose from English, Italian, Spanish, German, French, and international leagues. These are standard home and home scheduling with league standing support. Best of all, trophies can be garnered by becoming the champion in each of the league and cup events. This provides at least some impetus to get through all of the modes and get away from your favorite league and cup competitions.
Topping it off, the single-player options are nicely backed up by a local multiplayer mode that supports up to four-player competitive and cooperative play. However, the multiplayer does require each participant to download the game, as there is no demo version available via Download Play. Nevertheless, at $8, the game is cheap enough for all of your soccer-crazed friends to purchase it. That being said, I was surprised to see there is no Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support for true multiplayer online play. In fact, this was quite disappointing; the lack of online play brings the game down from a nearly perfect entry to merely a great one. Of course, a great game for less than 10 bucks is certainly in the realm of must-buy, regardless.
I was a bit worried by the first few releases to hit DSiWare, but Real Soccer 2009 has proven to be a true boon to the service. If loads of premium, bargain titles like this continue to drop, the DSi could extend this generation of handhelds for another several years.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
The sprites are typical, pixelated DS fare, but the three stadiums are nicely detailed. 4.0 Control
The standard controls are surprisingly tight, but the touch screen capabilities are too gimmicky for their own good. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds are extremely sparse. At least they don’t hinder play with annoying repetition. 4.4
This game is nearly as deep as anything the competition has put out, the gameplay is spot on, and the price is amazing! If online play was included, this would be true must-buy.
4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.