May 21, 2010

Dynamite Pro Football 2010

Why do those of us in the states call what is known globally as "football" by the name "soccer"? It's a game all about using the feet and not using the hands. And then we create another game and call it football and then have minimal use of the feet in this game. Sometimes we make no sense. So, when you see Dynamite Pro Football 2010 in the Market, know that it's not American style football, but rather World Cup style football. And being a sports gaming enthusiast I am so glad to see a game like this arrive (not that it's perfect) and I look forward to an American style football game someday.

You probably already have a basic idea how football (or soccer, but I'm going to call it football given the game's title for review purposes) works. Eleven players try to move the ball down field without using their hands and ultimately try to get it past the opposing keeper and into the opposing goal. Dynamite Pro Football 2010 looks a little like Sensible Soccer to me although having not played the latter extensively I can't compare the two. You get a top down view of the field with a bunch of teeny-tiny players on it that you control via touch. Interesting, to me, is that the game avoids used of the all too common virtual d-pad and does something different. Instead, controls are such that touching:
  • around the player with the ball changes his running direction (and he always seems to be on the move).
  • directly in front causes the player with the ball to shoot it.
  • directly on the player causes him to pass it.
  • behind the player with the ball causes him to lob it down field.
DPF 2010 is clearly more of an arcade style soccer game. The game includes a practice mode where you only face an opposing keeper to learn the controls, and then when you're ready to can play real games featuring international teams (just named via county... no licensed player names or anything of that sort). The game is chock full of options... 3 difficulty levels, several formations, different length matches from the quick 5 minute/half game to a full 45 minute/half game. And the game does provide some pretty intense action.

The graphics are good given the tiny players, but you can make out arms moving back and forth as they run and the ball does seem to spin as it rolls down the field. The game also has a nice audio track although little in the way of sound effects. There's no 'GOAL!' shouted when a goal is tallied, but the player does do a victory dance. Quite frankly that surprised me given the quality of most aspects of the game.

My biggest problem with the game deals with controls and while I heartily applaud avoiding the use of a virtual D-Pad I all too often end up shooting the ball away when I'm trying to turn. I suspect, from a technical standpoint, that the player has 8 directional zones surrounding him and all are of equal size so you have to make sure you're touching what is clearly off left or right to get the player to turn instead of shoot. But after playing for an hour or so across three gaming sessions I was still making this same, basic mistake. I also think the passing game is difficult to muster... it doesn't appear that tapping on your active player passes to the closest player, but rather you have to be running in the receiving player's direction and by the time I was doing that I'd have run right by the player I wanted to pass to with my speedy runner and consequently no pass.

Another minor, technical snafu is that pressing the home button on my phone is how I've become accustomed to ending programs. Not good enough for DPF 2010... you have to go to the top level menu and exit. Now if you really like the music maybe this is a blessing as you can exit via the home button and continue to listen to it, and while it's good it is not that good. In fact, even turning off my phone by hitting the power button left the music playing (which makes a good demo that the power button isn't really a power button in the strictest sense).

In conclusion, DPF 2010 is a good start to a soccer game. It's a little on the pricey side at 3 Euros (or about US $4). It's also probably a bit of a hit or miss title depending on your personal preferences. I like it, but would like to see some improvements and/or fixes to address my issues. 3.5/5 stars.

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