EA's FIFA series on the iPhone has come on leaps and bounds since the 2010 edition first graced our small screens, but the recent 2012 edition was a real triumph of style and substance, almost matching the console release for spectacle.
So what can EA bring to the table this time now that they've set such a high bar? FIFA 13 is, unsurprisingly, more of an update than a radical rethinking of the game, but don't let that take anything away from what turns out to be a surprisingly well put-together package.
Presentation is great from the off, when a short animated intro sets the scene and some pretty decent licensed music hangs around in the background while you fiddle with the many menu options. Here you'll be able to choose from a quick match, league, manager mode, penalty shootout mini-game and, for the first time, a world-wide online mode that sees you pit your ball skills against anyone and everyone.
Quick matches are great fun to get used to the new control system. This turns out to be a bit of an amalgamation of both of the modes from last year's game, but it works well, with only a few buttons doubling up. The ability to call for a 2nd defender is welcome when things get tough up the wrong side of the pitch, though it also seems that controls on the defence side have been tweeked in the player's favour, allowing for a much more precise attack, though I admit to falling foul of one too many of the ref's decisions against my, shall we say, less judicious tackles. Overall, though, the new button layout gets my approval and the ability to play with the iPhone as a controller and the iPad as the screen is still as great as it was last year.
Graphics have been given a slight shine, but nothing major over last year, which is fair enough considering how good they were in FIFA 12. It's good to see better character models for the close-ups though, with some unintentionally entertaining expressions at times. It still looks the business on the pitch and during replays, as a slow motion camera tracks the ball's movement into the goal and gives you time to do a little celebration dance of your own before getting back to business. It also means that iPod Touch 4th Generation owners have no worries about running the game on their hardware, it plays pretty smoothly and still looks the business, while iPhone 5 owners get treated to a full screen support for their larger screens.
The game even includes the ability to load your favourite replays to Youtube and there's a greater sense of social integration as EA's console based system moves on to mobile, allowing you to earn XP for your chosen team.
Manager mode is back from last year too and doesn't seem to have changed an awful lot. But that's good because it has been pretty well received already and really only acts as a secondary mode to the main action in the tournament mode. Penalty Shootouts act as a two minute break and a useful training tool for any penalties that might take place in a full match.
My online experience of the game has been slightly more patchy, with matches lagging quite a bit and a few timing out until one player quits. I'm sure this will be fixed in coming weeks and it's nice to have it at launch instead of an option 6 months down the line, but for now local games are more advisable.
So, FIFA 13 turns out to be an incremental update from last year and yet, with all the tweeks and small changes, EA's game manages to become the world champion of the iOS football league yet again.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 10
Page 1 of 1