EA’s annually-refreshed series of FIFA games are an impressive achievement for the developer. Next to Call of Duty, the year’s FIFA game is one of few products to regularly receive overnight queues and widespread sell outs, at least in the UK. And the success of the series is far from unjust with even the most minimal fans of the sport being able to have a great time in the competitive setting.
Sport games aren’t new for iOS but, to be honest, they aren’t something I’ve opted for in the past. However, when FIFA 13 happened to be a launch-optimised title for the iPhone 5, I decided to give it a go with some impressive results. Let’s take a look!
The world of association football can be fickle at times, but this changing landscape is met with a yearly release of a new FIFA game. Not only does this provide EA with an excuse to bolster their mobile division’s cash flow a bit, but allows players to be a little more up-to-date with their favourite teams. It’s also a great opportunity to better optimise the app for current-generation devices, such as the iPhone 5 where it was available from day one.
FIFA 12 and FIFA 11 remain on the App Store, surprisingly left with equal or higher price tags than the incumbent FIFA 13. From the App Store screenshots alone, it’s easy to see how far FIFA 13 has come from it’s predecessors, matching the ever-increasing power of today’s iOS devices. If you have spare cash lying about, get some of the earlier releases, but FIFA 13 is the clear choice if you just want one.
I’m not well versed in football but the gameplay in FIFA 13 is very easy to pick up. At the most basic level, you run around the pitch, passing, tackling and shooting, with the obvious aim of scoring goals. There’s varying levels of difficult which impact how much of a challenge your opposition will be. You can start pretty easy, but the game will pick up when you seem to be doing abnormally well and suggest adding some difficulty, even mid-tournament.
You’ll slowly be introduced to more complex aspects of the gameplay, such as managing an overall sway towards offence or defence, or a balance in-between. You can also perform skill moves by drawing out patterns on the screen.
Eventually, the game will end up throwing in some fouls, issuing yellow and red cards at times. This gives you an opportunity to do some basic team management and perhaps perform a throw in or free kick. These remain generic to the game’s controls and add some welcome breaks to matches.
As is expected with this type of game, you can launch straight into some practice or a quick friendly. Alternatively, you can set up a cup tournament based on real-life leagues and play through a series of opponents in a continual competition.
FIFA 13 is an excellent example of well-executed touch controls. On the iPhone, the larger screen of iPhone 5 gives that subtle extra space that makes a huge difference to a game with such a heavy GUI like FIFA. Actioning passes or shots at goal is as simple as tapping a button and, on iPhone, the intimate controls just work perfectly.
On the larger screen of an iPad, the controls are largely the same. In fact, the iPad version is literally just a scaled up edition of the iPhone game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but does make the controls feel a little off at times. The controls remain incredibly intuitive and easy to pick up on, but controlling the game in such a way — with any game, this is the case — doesn’t feel right all the time. It’s far from enough of a reason not to get the game, however.
There is something special with the iPad version, however. Loading up the game on your iPhone simultaneously and launching the Gamepad mode allows one to use their phone as a controller for the action playing out on the big screen. When connected, this setup works fantastically and creates an experience on par with the far more expensive console counterparts. It’s a perfect mashup of the well-devised controls of the iPhone version with the immersion of the larger screen of the iPad.
Unfortunately, I did encounter a few connection issues with this, sometimes leaving me to switch controls mid-game. This was a tad annoying, but could well be derivative of local issues rather than problems with the app itself.
FIFA 13 is, hands-down, the best iOS game I’ve ever played. On the iPhone, everything about the app is executed well, creating an opportunity for some really fun gaming sessions. It might take a chunk out of your battery — apps like this always do — but I have no other faults with the game. On the iPad, it’s still a really fun experience although perhaps slightly less preferential to the iPhone due to the slightly-off controls.
Furthermore, FIFA 13 is incredible value for money. At $6.99, you get the universal game to run on both your iPhone and your iPad, a fairly odd move for EA who, until not long ago, sold mobile and “HD” iPad versions separately. I’ve already been able to enjoy hours of gameplay with FIFA 13 on my iPhone and it’s perhaps the best investment I’ve made in the App Store to date.