Usually when Americans think of sports, they think football, baseball, or basketball. Most other countries think football, too–they just mean a different kind. Soccer hasn’t caught on fully in the States quite yet, but the rest of the world has had football fever for some time now. A big audience of fans for a sport usually means one thing: There’s a lot of people out there that dream of playing. The vast majority of those fans are never going to feel their feet touch down on the turf of the most prestigious stadiums around the world–unless they’re rushing the field to celebrate a victory–so they’re more than happy to settle for a little virtual reality. That’s where Real Soccer 2013 comes in. Promising a plethora of on-field action and the ability to manage your club of choice to build a dynasty of your own, Real Soccer 2013 has some lofty goals and too often misses the net.
Enter the Arena
Soccer matches are perhaps best known for their atmosphere. The stadiums all have a history of their own, but it’s the sing-song style chants, the cries of support, and the vitriolic boos of dismay coming from the fans that really make the event worth attending. Real Soccer 2013 isn’t really able to recreate this. Though the announcer is good enough despite what sounds like a painfully forced British accent. He serves well enough especially given the extensive database of teams and players for him to deal with. That said, there’s really no ambiance to speak of in Real Soccer 2013. Crowds mumble the same non-words over and over in something that is supposed to resemble a chant.
Presentation outside of the audio is quite good. Replays are handled television style with multiple angles and transitions, the menus are crisp and as easy to read as they are to navigate, and the on-field action is represented well. Animations are mostly fluid and the action of a soccer match is depicted fairly well. Everything generally looks good.
Of course, just because everything looks good doesn’t mean everything is good. The controls of Real Soccer 2013 darn near break the game. Set up with an arcade-style layout with a virtual joystick on the left and buttons that correspond to actions on the right, Real Soccer 2013 seems like its set you up to fail more often than not. The controls are responsive, but the game is a little too jumpy.
When playing defense, you’ll be automatically switched to whatever player is closest to the ball. That’s fine, except when you’re switched to a guy running the opposite way while you’re holding the joystick. Now you’re turned the wrong direction and forced to watch opposition blow right by you. If you’re planning on taking the ball away with a well-timed slide tackle, be prepared to be pegged with a yellow card. There’s almost no angle you can take to correctly execute a slide tackle and once you attempt it, you’ll have knocked your player out of the game for a good couple seconds before he gets back up and pursues the ball again.
Soccer fans will also be disappointed at the inability to run an effective offense. Want to try to send a cross in from the corner? Watch your pass trickle right into the defense. Shooting comes down to get close as you can to the goal and hope for the best. You’ll too often find yourself trying to move the ball to a star player as they have the best shot of making anything happen.
The Cost of Owning a Team
We all know the idea of owning a soccer team is an expense none of us would be able to afford, which is why a game like Real Soccer 2013 would be so appealing. Would be, because it’s not satisfied with letting you play soccer for free. The freemium model usually isn’t a terrible thing, but when it totally cripples the actual gameplay experience, it’s worth griping about. So gripe we shall.
When you start your squad, you’ll have a team full of nobodies. In theory, through playing tough competition, training, improving, and adding talent, your roster may eventually be something that other teams fear. Except none of that happens because Real Soccer 2013 makes it almost impossible without spending real world money. Your players wear out quick. Like, one game and their exhausted, two games and they’ll be hurt quick. This would be too big of an issue if it didn’t take 8 hours to rest a player or 24 hours to heal an injury. Even that wouldn’t be so terrible, except for your limited in how many players you can rest and heal at the same time. Of course, you can increase those slots if you’re willing to spend money. Do you see how this cycle works?
If you really want to enjoy Real Soccer 2013, or rather play it because the gameplay isn’t all that enjoyable anyway, you’ll have to open your wallet up and shell out some real cash. Not just once, though. You’ll have to do it regularly to keep your players on the field. This is where the game’s freemium model crosses the line from a connivence for players who want a boost to a burden for players who want to enjoy the game.
Find a New Team
Soccer is a fun sport, and a soccer game should reflect that. That’s the first place that Real Soccer 2013 goes wrong. The game just isn’t that fun. The controls aren’t broken, but they aren’t user friendly. The team management mode isn’t worth paying for, but you can’t experience it fully unless you do pay for it. Real Soccer 2013 wants players to build like Manchester City: Throw money at the game to make it good. We suggest finding a new team to cheer for.