There’s no doubt as to Real Soccer’s competition, but unlike most other Gameloft doppelgangers, the original sits right next to it in the App Store. The primary differences are the FIFA license and the pricing mechanism. Unlike FIFA Soccer 12, Real Soccer 2012 is a freemium game, and it comes with a lot of ways to spend money.
Real Soccer 12 functions as a freemium game through coins, cash, and experience. The first two are earned (coins much faster than cash) or purchased in order to obtain a range of items, and the latter is accumulated to unlock different divisions of league play. The in-game shop has a wide variety of ways to spend coins and cash, with coins limited to unlocking new types of balls and stadiums, and cash allowing purchase of one-time-use items like player boosts, stamina recharges, and even the ability to clear away yellow cards (bribery works!).
The gameplay itself isn’t too different from FIFA 12’s gameplay, with a virtual D-pad, buttons that change according to your possession, and a few gesture controls. We had occasional issues with handling and AI, evidenced by the time when we lost the ability to shoot and instead walked into the net, largely unopposed. The graphics are average, with the notable exception of the players, which look previous-generation blocky.
The wide green expanse.
There are several single player modes in Real Soccer: Cup, League, Exhibition, Scenario, and Season Club Master. The cups, leagues, and exhibitions all allow limited entry with more legwork required to expand access– though, being a freemium game, you can always pay to unlock whatever you want.
Season Club Master can only be unlocked for 50 cash, which can be purchased for $4.99– a price, we couldn’t help but notice, that matches FIFA 12’s original price, and surpasses its current price. In this mode, you can play as a manager of any team from the available divisions and juggle finances, transfers, and line-ups while playing each match.
Scenario is a fascinating mode that allows matching up teams under customizable conditions, either recreating famous matches or imagining new ones. This mode shines the most when used with the community features accessible through the game’s “Editor” menu, which allows downloads of player-made scenarios. Community-made teams are also available, and they appear to be the way Gameloft is getting around their lack of a license. We downloaded several club teams in this manner, and noticed that they bear the official names and logos of the teams, while the rest of Real Soccer does not.
All in all, there is cause to praise the move to freemium for how it opens the game to casual players, who might want to make small purchases to help them along. When it comes to gamers with favorite teams or a desire for more in-depth play, however, FIFA 12 offers much more for the money, and carries all the benefits that come with the license.