Originally released last November, Real Football 2009 gets a re-release on the DSi Store for 800 Points (£7.20 – much better than the original £25) with a couple of small DSi-only features thrown into the mix. We were unable to review the original DS version but are finally now able to kick off with the DSiWare release.
Real Football has all the basic modes you would expect from a Football game: Exhibition (single match), Cups and Leagues. The only extra mode is Penalty Kicks, which is pretty self-explanatory. There’s also a trophy section, giving you an incentive to play through all the cups and leagues until you have collected all of the silverware. There is no online multiplayer, but Real Football 2009 lets you connect with other local Real Football 2009 owners for a bit of multiplayer action.
The game has two control schemes – buttons and touch screen. The button controls are simple and easy to learn and work fairly smoothly. Surprisingly, the touch screen controls are also simple to learn (line for pass, press to shoot, curved line for long ball, etc), and it’ll interpret almost any squiggle as a move, and usually the one you meant to pull off. The D-Pad is still used for movements, so left-handers will have a bit of trouble. Luckily, the controls are simple enough for you to just use your thumb so it isn’t that big a problem. Even though the touch controls usually work well, they aren’t particularly effective – it’s less intuitive (due to having to think about what to draw) than the button controls and it also takes a short amount of time after you’ve finished drawing before it does the required move.
The AI in the game is fairly contempt on easy, even if it does make a lot of mistakes. On Hard it does a good job at defending and passing, however it still has trouble scoring goals, partly due to some bizarre phobia to crossing, meaning that the mighty Hull can get a goalless draw against Old Star (a team made of the best players from the past) on hard without much hassle. On top of this, the computer-only results seem to be more random than anything else. During my first “International Cup” I (playing as England) found it odd that, despite the cup including teams like France, Portugal, Italy and Spain; the semi-finals turned out to be Me Vs Japan and USA Vs Serbia. Naturally, I whooped Serbia in the final. Still, you’ll get plenty of enjoyable matches from playing the computer and it can sometimes surprise you.
There’s plenty of teams (over 200) to play against, both international (it’s missing Wales for some reason) and league teams. However, the team names are made up ones like Man. Red and G. Glasgow (although clubs named directly after countries and cities retain their names) while the player names for most of the big clubs are correct. Unfortunately, unlike in Pro Evolution, football fans won’t be able to rectify the names as there is no edit mode. While the roster will be slightly out of date by now, they have been updated since the title’s original release.
Players look fairly simplistic, with only hair styles, skin colour and size differentiating between the players. While nobody looks a lot like who they’re supposed to be they are still an adequate representation of them. In contrast, the animation is smooth and the game runs at a good pace without any slowdown or hiccups.
New to this release of Real Football is the ability to replace some textures via the DSi’s Camera. You can make your own footballs, team flags, big screen displays (seen in the stadiums) and player faces. While the player faces look ridiculous (it replaces the 3D heads with an oversized 2D face), the others look good, providing on how much detail you try and capture. The footballs can be tricky to make (it stretches a square shape onto the ball) but can look great (I love my Morph Ball football). While they don’t affect the game, it still adds a nice personal touch.
So, Real Football 2009 is a very solid game. It’s fun to play and there are plenty of leagues and cups to play though. While it doesn’t have a vast amount of features, it’s still priced extraordinarily well (considering it was originally released as a full retail game) and, as it’s saved onto your console, it’s great for the odd blast of football.