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All iphone football games are fundamentally flawed: Discuss?

11-08-2010, 05:23 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 4
All iphone football games are fundamentally flawed: Discuss?

**Warning, long borderline obsessive post follows - if you don't like football games you'll want to give this one a miss)**

Hi all,
I've started this thread because I love football (or soccer as you yanks call it): and I love the iphone games platform, but I'm disappointed because after playing nearly all of the iphone football games out there - I don't think there is a good one: Fifa/Pes/X2/RF et all have fundamental problems that make them poor experiences. I want to discuss these games, highlight what annoys me about each and speculate a little about why making a good iphone football game is apparently so hard. I'm not expecting a console like experience on this new platform, but I would like an engaging game that (more or less) feels like football. Currently none of the games available do that. I wonder if you all agree?

I think that there are a lot of things to love about these games (I must given that I bought them all!) and I think at $.99 everyone should go an buy PES 2010 - but, they're all fundamentally flawed - none of them provide an engaging experience long term that made me want to play them beyond the first week I had them, which in my books is not really good enough.

The Contenders:

==PES 2010/2011==

(as these are essentially the same game with only minor differences I am treating them as one)

I'll start with PES, because I personally think its the most "fun" series on the app store at the moment. The gameplay is intuitive, its easy to pick up and play. The graphics are decent (unless you are on an iphone 4 because it lacks retina display GFX), but and they wisely decided to avoid doing commentary, neatly sidestepping the biggest cliché in football games. Unfortunately the gameplay, while fun, is very shallow. With a little practise you will easily win every game and learn certain tricks that will win always score. The most offensive bug, the halfway line instant goal, has now been fixed - but there are dozens of other such tricks most notably the "run sideways past the goalkeeper in the box trick" and the fact that keepers have a superhuman ability to block almost any shot and then fall on the floor while a rebound is scored (but conversely almost no ability to block headers from 4 yards)

However, the fact that you can score the same goals every match is just a facet of the fact that every match plays exactly the same and its totally unrealistic. Running is far superior to passing, tackling always wins the ball, slide tackling always fouls, interceptions are all over the place, the offside rule is broken. Player stick to positions and so the possibilities of a counter attack or build up play is essentially nill. Play the game for a little while and you will begin to realise that while fun, it feels nothing like real football at all. PES is essentially a puzzle in "how can I beat the AI" - only the speed stat seems to make a real difference to how a player handles and every opponent feels the same. once you have learnt the tricks to beating the AI you can easily get the same scoreline as a minor team against Barcelona that you get the other way around (often around 6-0 for me.)

Then there was the fiasco of PES 2011, virtually every feature of PES 2011 was promised / hinted at as an "update" to PES 2010 on release, and i think originally when PES 2010 was on the drawing board that was what was planned. However, the fact was that PES 2010 was released at completely the wrong time, (everyone knows when football games are released - once a year at the start of the season) too expect Konami not to do shoehorn minor feature upgrades into a new skin and call it a new game was crazy because they had to be seen to compete. I don't blame them for this, but because of this, there is very little point buying PES 2011 over PES 2010. Konami are learning this now as a look at the UK app store charts wil show PES 2010 outselling and generating far more revenue than PES 2011 at its lower price. Multiplayer on the PES engine has the potential to be very interesting, but so far there is no online multiplayer, which means I've not played any of it, because if I want to play PES with friends, were going to play the console version. In any event, in my view a pocket device the multiplayer is secondary to the single player experience, as most of the time you will not be setting up a structured "playtime" but simply be seeking a quick diversion. (Though if i were to bet i would say this will be the "big" feature for 2012, because of gamecentre and the fact its an easy selling point to stick in reviews and the description)

==FIFA 2011==

When FIFA 2011 came out i was pretty excited, unlike pes 2011 it was clearly a totally reworked game from the dreadful fifa 2010. The game is visually fantastic, play for 5 minutes and you will also realise it has pretty fantastic commentary and ofc it includes all of those wonderful official licenses that will always give it a unique advantage. The game also has flashes of genius - if you manage to score a goal on a harder difficulty level it will feel and look fantastic and be worked much like a real football goal. The playing style screen is dizzying (well it would be if you could actually change all the options) and the game if you manage to get everything perfect can produce moments of genius

Then there are the downsides, while the "casual" controls are easy to learn, they only scratch at the depth in the game, the advanced controls are complex to learn and confusing (the Goalie rush is very easy to trigger by mistake for example). The "Advantage system" is poor, random players will routinely run offside, ruining your attacks, (also at corners, if you win the balland try to break, you will almost certainly trigger an offside bug). Direct freekicks are useless (After getting frustrated by them in the game I confirmed this by spending almost an hour practising freekicks, with infinite variations of pace and direction and shot type - I never got one in, it seems to be literally impossible to hit a free kick hard enough to beat the keeper in but soft enough to remain on target). There are bugs and crashes galore, (in fact on longer time limits nearly 1/5th of my matches ended in this way). And ofc there is the lag, which is just embarrassing for a production game by a major company.

All of these are niggling worries compared to the giant monolithic problem with this game though which is how it feels to play. For 90% of the time its INCREDIBLY slow and frustrating, its more like real football than PES, but its as if real football was played entirely by the midfield swimming in treacle. You will spend most of the game in the middle third engaged in mind numbingly tedious build up play, knowing that if you lose the ball (as you almost certainly will once you approach the final third) then you will need to spend another age getting it back and then getting it through midfield again. The camera options here dont help,zoom out to far and you can't be precise enough to ever move or pass round players, but zoomed in you can't see anything to pass too (unless you are incredibly good at reading the minimap). The only reason you will keep playing is if you do manage to score a goal on a harder level, it will be because he underlying potential in the engine just "clicked" and for a moment you felt like you were playing a fun, fast moving football game. However this will happen rarely, nearly every match will be 0-0 or 1-0, the ai is very good at stopping you from scoring, but typically hopeless itself (though it will keep possession well, making you more frustrated than you already were).

I think these problems are fixable, but they will need some serious work on them by EA, and i see little to suggest they are going to do that.

==The Rest==
This post is long enough already so I will just quickly address the other games. X2 Football - not bad, a decent game but its dated and its interesting mechanics appear to have been copied by the others, this is the only one I never purchased, so YMMV but I saw nothing in the demo to make me think its anything except a minor sideshow to the big 2. RF 2010/2011 - if you like your football arcade style, shallow and packed with irritating and useless play-modes then these games are all right - but as should be apparent by now - I don't. A particular ire is "Enter the legend mode" a horrendous experience where you spend a game only in control of one player, that clearly only included to sound interesting in the game description, because watching two useless AI's play football while you wait to be subbed on at random and not passed to is not a fun experience.

==The Future==
The fact is, apart from a possible X2 2011 (which I've heard little about), we are probably not going to see anything exciting in iphone football games in the near future. Which is disappointing. The current offerings have placed an emphasis on graphics over gameplay, they look great and play well enough to get some good reviews from overworked games journalists who have to play them for an afternoon and then write 750 words with an arbitrary score tacked onto the end. But I think that the overall experience is lacking for people who play these games for a longer time period. I don't think its too much to hope for that in the future an iphone football game which I can keep on my iphone for months and pick up for a quick game any time knowing that I will get a challenging and enjoyable experience out of it. I keep PES 2011 (though i recommend 2010) for that at the moment, but its not a real football experience.

Last edited by alterion; 11-08-2010 at 07:30 PM.
11-08-2010, 05:33 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,277
I'd hate to find out what your opinion of me is.

11-08-2010, 05:47 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: ︻╦̵̵͇̿̿̿̿╤──'─
Posts: 216
Iphone football games

In my eyes playing real football is a lot more fun than mashing buttons on plastic or glass. I hate football games lol
11-08-2010, 06:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by Cilo View Post
I'd hate to find out what your opinion of me is.
you have 1000 posts on a forum about iphone games, I think we would get along just fine :P
11-08-2010, 06:47 PM

but im assuming you said something about controls? yeahhh...that can be said about any genre of iphone gaming..

The Life Blog
11-08-2010, 06:51 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,414
wow. is all i have to say
11-08-2010, 07:09 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 4
I understand any TLDR's - but in my defence this post was originally much longer when i wrote it, but this forum has a 10,000 character limit on posts so I had to cut it down alot. - I didn't even mention loads of things I wanted to include in the interests of readability... For example I had one section where I compared this game to the football games which used to run on comparable PC's back "in the day" - I even replayed the actua soccer series for laughs on my pentium 166 MMX and 1ghz athalon - but all this got cut from this version, might put it up somewhere else one day but probably not :P....

Last edited by alterion; 11-08-2010 at 07:28 PM.
11-08-2010, 08:23 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Belfast N Ireland
Posts: 2,193
Pretty much agree with you and Fifa 11 does indeed have potential but at the minute feels very incomplete I'm lucky enough I can reach for the psp version instead and I always do. Even with that though it's easily the best football game on the devices maybe a few updates will transform it.

Although I'm beginning to think they aren't going to bother it's been a while.

I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out
11-08-2010, 09:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 154
Read the whole thing since I love football too. I wish I knew how a 'complete' football gaming experience felt like since prior to iOS gaming, I only played their java versions. But either way, after playing it for a while, I agree that PES 2011 felt shallow. I did not like how you could score similar goals all the time. Just out of curiosity, why did you recommend PES 2010 over 2011? Are there any significant changes gameplay wise?

As for FIFA, I have scored a few goals from direct free kicks.. Perhaps I was nearer to the goal but still. FIFA is by no means complete yet but at least it's pushing boundaries. It feels like a real football match, both the beautiful side and frustrating side of the game, made even better by Andy Gray's bombastic commentary! On the other hand, I just could not get into the advanced controls, and I'll admit, the game frustrates more than entertains at harder difficulties. (I'm still stuck at Semi-pro)

For me, the most exciting thing about football games on the iOS platform is how EA are gonna improve upon FIFA for next season's edition, because by reworking the game this season, imo they've built a strong foundation.
11-08-2010, 09:55 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 4
When i wrote the OP; in the english app store PES 2010 was .59p and PES 2011 was £4.99 - the latter is (a little) better than the former, but not much. hence the complaints fo other, so for new users,s they amy as well buy the first one and save themselves the £5.49