Real Soccer 2009, released this week by developer GameLoft, is easily the best sports game I've seen on the iPhone to date.
The game features highly-detailed graphics, realistic player animations, and over 200 teams and 12 stadiums rendered in 3D. More than anything else, it reminds me of the old International Superstar Soccer '98 for the N64.
Gameplay is controlled by a directional pad in the bottom left corner of the screen, and A and B buttons in the bottom right corner. Real Soccer 2009 features a variety of play modes, including League Play, World Cup, Penalty Kicks, and Training Mode, and over 100 teams, including national and club teams. Three difficulty levels ensure that players of all skill levels will enjoy the game.
As remarkable an achievement as this game is, it has some fundamental problems. Any game that depends heavily on quick directional changes using a touchscreen is going to be limited in terms of gameplay; it's difficult to keep your finger on the directional pad at all times and the pad doesn't always respond as quickly as would a console controller. What's more, the control buttons take up a quarter to a third of the screen real estate. More often than not you feel like you're missing part of the action because your fingers are covering a good part of the screen.
While mobile platforms are typically better suited to casual games, Real Soccer 2009 is an impressive, enjoyable game and certainly worth the price.