X2 and Real Soccer, despite them both focusing on the game of soccer (football), are two distinct games. Real Soccer is more of a pick up and play kind of game, with simple controls for passing and shooting and an immobile D-pad for moving the players. X2, though, is a more in-depth game, and has three buttons on the right side of the screen used to control player actions and a joystick on the left side that controls player movement. X2′s controls are relatively difficult to master, but once you’ve learned them, the gameplay is brilliant. It took me 2 games to really master which buttons performed what actions. In Real Soccer, though, I had everything taken care of by the 15th minute of my first game.
X2 Soccer’s controls
Real Soccer’s controls
Real Soccer’s controls, despite being easy to learn, have many flaws. When defending, your player is often switched for you, resulting in utter frustration when you realize that you just ran your last defender off the field by accident. And that D-pad? It does a decent job of giving you control over your player, but it’s nowhere near perfect. Often, players will just stop running when you’re actually trying to make them sprint. Much like a gaming console, the joystick in X2 offers more fine-tuned control, and automatic player switching is implemented very well.
The graphics in X2 blow Real Soccer’s out of the park. The stadiums are well detailed in both games, but the players, the turf, and the goals themselves are absolutely brilliant looking on X2. Additionally, X2 has licensed players’ names. It is a lot more fun to see Donovan score in X2 than to see Davonan score in Real Soccer. This has its downsides, though, as X2 only includes a selection of international teams; club teams are nonexistent. Real Soccer includes club teams and international ones, though the players on the club teams are a few months out of date and have misspelled names.
The gameplay in both apps is pretty similar. As a soccer player, I’d have to say that X2 is more realistic than Real Soccer, ironically enough. The goalkeepers in general are eons smarter in X2 than in Real Soccer. They come out on one on ones, and make good (but not impossible) saves. Real Soccer has trick moves that you initiate by moving your finger on the screen in a particular motion. X2′s fancy moves are invoked by a double tap on the screen, but you never know which move your player will do. Goal celebrations in X2 are slightly better, with the player who scored running off to perform one of various actions. Meanwhile, every goal celebration in Real Soccer is the same.
The in-game sounds in X2 is what really blew me away. There is actual commentary (with a genuine British accent) and the crowd responds to the actions on the field. For example, they’ll boo at what they think was a foul, and the commentators will helpfully add that “oh, he’ll take an early bath today” as your player is sent off with a red card. The announcers vary what they say and put emotion into it, which only improves the experience. Real Soccer, however, offers some cheers and fanfare from the crowd, but no commentary.
[Quick errata: there is a voice that shouts "He scores!" or "Gooool" in Real Soccer, but nothing more. X2's commentators will say "He scores! What a fantastic finish. It is now 1-nil"] X2 gives you the option to choose songs from your music library to play while you’re in the app. Shooting penalty kicks with X2 is intuitive and fun. You flick your finger at the desired speed and at a certain direction to take the shot. Substituting players in X2 Football is easy, but pointless. You are not shown the players’ stamina, or health. Real Soccer shows you player health and all of his stats, including his specialty (power kicker, curve king, etc.). The referee in X2 is much more strict than Real Soccer’s.
This takes a while to get used to, but in reality it makes fair calls. Real Soccer’s ref seems to be heavily bribed by the opposing team. It also doesn’t play advantage. I have had numerous goals called off because of a foul, and missing penalty kicks in Real Soccer is easier than scoring them.
X2 Football Extras:
The game comes with a tournament mode with 5 tournaments, a PK shootout mode, and a training mode. You can save replays of goals to view later in the replay viewer.
Real Soccer Extras:
The game comes with “Cup” mode (the same as X2′s tournament mode), a league mode for the club teams (6 leagues), a PK shootout minigame, and training.
Both apps are very solid. Because of the in-game commentary, the superior graphics, and the more realistic gameplay, I’d have to recommend X2 despite its higher price. If you just want something to pick up and play once in a while, though, I’d recommend to stick with the cheaper Real Soccer.
Pros: Great controls, realistic gameplay, terrific graphics, in game commentary. Cons: Hard to learn controls, no club teams Price: $6.99 (free trial version available)
Gameplay is sensational, but there are not enough international or club teams.
Pros: Easy to master controls, good graphics, wide selection of teams Cons: Few licensed player names, frustrating controls Price: $0.99
The controls grow frustrating and it’s just no fun not having players’ real names Note: This review does not focus on multiplayer. Real Soccer does have multiplayer over wifi that allows you to play with other people who own the game. I found it to be pretty good, though it lagged occasionally. The developer of X2 have promised multiplayer over wifi, but so far it has not been released.