Now, I’m not a big-time football fan, but I’ve played my share of iOS games. EA’s mobile FIFA series included. It’s been a short – and strange – history. Beginning with FIFA 10, avid football fans could take their favourite game on the go… provided they didn’t mind blocky graphics and sub-par gameplay. Since then, the mobile FIFA series has seen tremendous improvements year after year, culminating in a standout iOS classic in FIFA 12. So, with all the polish that the series has been given in the last couple years, is there still room to improve with FIFA 13, out this week?
The answer is, “well… a bit.” Not that it’s a bad thing. I’ll explain.
The problem with FIFA 12 and FIFA 13 – any with every sports franchise, really – is that there’s only so much you can improve upon. FIFA 12 was insanely polished and looks amazing. So too does FIFA 13. Am I talking about the console or mobile versions? Most likely, both.
The game – you know, being football – plays the same as you remember from FIFA 12. “Manager Mode” is back, and is quite fun. EA seems to have pushed the limits of iOS devices, and the game looks ridiculously impressive. There are subtle improvements to player animations, and post-goal celebrations show a lot of detail in the life-like players’ faces. Wayne Rooney is just as ugly in the mobile version of FIFA 13 as he is in real life.
When talking about real change, FIFA 13 mobile sees the addition of a robust online community and play type thanks to integration with EA’s Origin service. Gameplay in the online modes seems to run at a doubled pace when compared in single-player mode, but it’s easy to adjust to and is quite fun… well, provided you’ve got a list of Origin friends to hit up (and speaking off – “Stevivor” – add me!).
If you’re friendless in Origin, there’s always matchmaking with randoms, but it’s not quite as fun without some sort of “Xbox Live Party” chat to taunt your opponent during play. Matches are automatically set at four minute halves, so if you’re wanting some sort of authentic experience online, you’re not going to get it. Online is more arcade-like than I think hardcore fans will want. Fair warning.
A massive benefit to this year is that FIFA 13 supports iCloud game saves — so, if you’re starting a Manager Mode career on iPad, you can pick up with it on your iPhone at another point.
With console iterations of sport franchise, you’ve got more budget and a huge price point to work with from year to year; with the mobile version of FIFA – costing $7.50 this year – I’m sure the budget would be far, far (FAR!) smaller. Nonetheless, animations are smooth, gameplay is simple… yet complex once you try to master trick shots and passing. The long story short is that football fans have a great mobile title up for the taking. For a pocket-sized FIFA experience (probably between your console bouts…), you can’t go wrong.