The iPhone version uses touch control exclusively, whereas the DS version offers touch control as an option, selectable at any point in the game by tapping on the touch control icon on the bottom of the touch screen. All the moves you'd expect from a football game are accessible through touch control.
On the DS, drawing lines on the touchscreen conveys your intended pass. A straight line gives you a short pass, an 'n' shape does a lofted long pass. Drawing a line and then holding the stylus on the touch screen on the last point brings up a power bar to determine the strength of a through ball. Sadly, through balls make the game very easy, but at least the controls work. Zig-zags pull off step-overs and a spiral does an Henry-esque pirouette.
Above: The NES-style button layout belies the deep control system
The iPhone's touch controls simply had to work. And, sure enough, they do. You wouldn't think an on-screen D-pad and two buttons would give you full control of the action, but that's before you realise slide controls are used. B may be pass, but by 'pressing' it and then sliding your thumb upwards, you can access long balls.
Step-overs are initiated by tapping any other area of the screen, as is player selection. Shooting is assigned to A, and chips again involve the sliding motion. Various double-taps activate running and one-twos and the overall feel soon becomes second nature. It really works – better than the DS, if we're honest.
The license is the same across both versions, with 12 stadia, international and national teams. The player names are right, but it's got the PES problem of 'Man Red' for Manchester United. In fact, PES has obviously been an influence, as the substitution screen features the same coloured arrows representing each player's current status. Red 'up' arrows mean they're on top form, blue arrows pointing down mean they're better off staying at home. To be honest, the game engine doesn't seem quite deep enough for this to make a difference, in either version.
The omission of multiplayer from the iPhone version is pretty major, especially considering it could have offered net play. The DS version offers local wireless multiplayer so has to get points for that.
Above: The iPhone/iPod Touch version of Real Football 2009. They're not all related to SpongeBob, despite their square pants
Result: iPhone wins
On this evidence, iPhone and iPod Touch have the DS comfortably beaten in terms of graphical performance and we found the touch controls more enjoyable on the iPhone as well. Whether it's to do with the smoother gameplay or the surprisingly good interface, it's simply more fun on the iPhone. Not every game will adapt as well to touch controls, but iPhone seems to be getting stronger with every new game. If FIFA ever gets announced on the Apple machine, PSP might start looking over its shoulder.
19 Nov, 2008
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