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Pro Evolution Soccer 2010

Soccer is game that’s been adequately represented on the iPhone, yet the results have been inadequate. There are a couple traditional series available, a number of simplistic penalty kick shootout games and some entertaining soccer-esque diversions (chiefly Pro Zombie Soccer). None of those are genuine enough. Although many of the games are fun in short doses, that authentic action is missing. Despite Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 coming from the same mold, it strikes hard against all those other wannabes as the best soccer game on the iPhone.

When the players dribble, shoot or slide tackle on the pitch, it looks realistic; or at least as realistic as an iPhone game could be. The ball doesn’t move like it’s simply attached to a player’s foot. Steals occurs because of the way the player moves rather than from some arbitrary and implausible reason It helps that the character models are much more detailed than any of the competitors, making everything feel proper and natural. Goals don’t look like some cheap event that occurred due to poor collision detection. Like in real life, here it’s beautiful and earned.

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The speed of the footballers isn’t quite as fast compared to other games, but it doesn’t need to be. The slower speed makes PES 2010 one of those rare games where playing defense isn’t a burden. With realistic movement, finding the right angle for a slide tackle or to tap out the ball from an opposing player’s grasp is increasingly satisfying as the difficulty level is raised. Similarly, offense – particularly corner kicks – is exciting since the players realistically head the ball in or clear it to safety. This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many games that can turn the prospect of a goal into a chore.

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The beautiful animation and sensible movement go a long way since PES 2010 does little to reinvent itself otherwise. Instead of innovation, it builds upon the foundation laid down by other games. The default controls, with a virtual analog stick and two buttons on the opposite side, are identical to the other iterations of soccer out there. While some other control options are available, the traditional analog stick and two buttons still work best. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the lack of diverse modes is. Little effort seems to have been made to push the features over the top. There’s little variety with only tournaments, seasons, practice and individual matches available. Any sort of career mode or online play would have been a boon for this year’s installment.

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While the features are lacking, the amount of authentic teams and players from the UEFA Champions League (even obscure ones) is a great touch. However, World Cup fans will be disappointed to know that although you can play as numerous countries, the rosters are fictional due to licensing restrictions.

The dearth of features is disappointing, but the main draw for PES 2010 is its refinement. This isn’t a simulation by any means. Rather, it’s the best soccer game on the iPhone and boasts more realism than any of its competitors. After all, what’s the point of many options if those games aren’t nearly as fun as this one? The bar is low for the iPhone, so here’s hoping next year’s version will raise it beyond what’s typically expected.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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