“ Published: Electronic Arts / Software: iPhone Application / Platform: iPhoneOS „
I have played Fifa games on games consoles for as long as they have been going, so when I saw this was available for the iPhone (and all iOS devices) I jumped at the chance to get it.
Can't remember what exactly I paid for it on the App store, but it was only a couple of quid.
Once you click the icon, it takes about 10-12 seconds to get through the title, licensing and sponsor screens into the main menu. From there you can access a quick game, leagues and cups, multiplayer, help and options.
The main menu is well laid out and responsive and quick to drill through.
Although initially I went into the quick "Kick-off" option, I quickly found my way into the league option, where you can pick your league from a range of countries (Premiership, Serie A, La Liga etc) and your team of choice. From there you enter into the standard league format and play your way through a season. I have yet to win a season, and each time I have finished mid table, all I get at the end is a message saying "Defeated by opposition", which is a bit disappointing, because you don't even see your final league position and stats.
Getting down to playing the game itself, for me there are 3 key areas. Graphics, gameplay and addictiveness.
For being a game on a phone the graphics are excellent and take full advantage of the Retina display on my iphone 4. Everything right down to the players faces, mannerisms and facial expressions is very good and really adds to the enjoyment of the game. A++ for graphics!
Playing on a touchscreen takes a fair amount of time to get used to, especially with the virtual joystick that the game uses. Unlike a PSP or something, there is no physical feedback on what position the joystick is in and this results in players running and making all sorts of disastrous passes to begin with. Another issue is that I find my thumb covers the joystick, so I can't even see what position it is in. Both these things improve over time and after several weeks I was able to adapt and I would say that I am in control about 95% of the time. B+ for control
The other major problem with the gameplay, which I can do nothing about, is the lag that happens in the game. It is a constant problem occurring in every game I have played. It has no pattern or trend, so I can't pin point what is causing it. It doesn't make a difference if I have 20 apps active or clear them all out of my multitask bar. It is a really frustrating problem and has cost me more than one goal when in the middle of attacking or defending you lose control and as I try to adjust it just ends up a disaster. D- for performance.
This game is really addictive once you get to grips with the controls, so much so that I can live with the performance issues. After a few weeks and my level of control increased, I started to win an increasing number of matches. Still haven't won a league but now fight in the top 5, so hopefully won't be long.
This game has so many pros, but these are heavily shadowed by the lag issue. Come on EA, sort it out and you will have a truly great game!!!
FIFA 11 on the consoles has been a rousing success and, as you can see in my previous review, one of the most addictive football games ever made. Unfortunately, the transition of football games from consoles to portable devices has always been far from smooth. DS owners can choose to play an ugly, pixelated version of the beautiful game while PSP owners have to shell out upwards of £15 for the privilege of playing the same game every year with updates alone warranting a purchase.
But what about the iPod touch? Could EA use its touch screen to fuse the innovative DS gameplay with the graphical flair of the PSP to create a perfect hybrid?
Well, the first signs are very good indeed. FIFA 11 has not only been given souped up visuals (which look impressively sharp on a 4G retina screen) but they are even sharper than on PSP, no mean feat given that the iPod is not primarily a gaming device.
The touch screen makes menus novel to navigate, with simple swipe menus used to navigate the title and squad selection screens. They are also very sleek, with everything simplified just enough to still feel like a complete game but making dipping in and out of games very quick and easy.
Despite costing much, much less than the PSP or DS versions (currently £2.99 but recently priced at a ridiculous price of 59p) features are also pretty impressive. Yes, there's no manager mode and yes, multiplayer mode is still pending but regardless, almost all of the leagues from the consoles make it in, complete wih authentic kits, crests, stadia and even footballs. Where else can you find a footy game with that kind of depth on the AppStore?
Where's the catch? Well, the gameplay is very hit or miss. It's hard to blame EA for the problems given that the iPod has no actual buttons yet its downfall is indeed the need for a virtual analog stick. Without a physical stick, movement becomes rather clumsy and unresponsive as the virtual d-pad just isn't as fluid to use as the PSP's nubbin.
On the flip side, EA have incorporated some cool uses of the touch screen to make things easier to perform. Swipe an off-the-ball player and he'll surge into space, or touch him to direct a pass to his feet. Three simple buttons allow you to pass, shoot or through ball in attack and pressure, slide or switch players in defence. The simplicity may annoy some but on a device which has only a touch screen for both controls and visuals it seems the most astute use of the on-screen space.
Complete with console quality commentary (think PS2) and graphics which punch well above the iPod's weight it's ultimately easy to forgive the shortcomings of the game, especially when it's basically the same game you'd pay more than five times more for on other portable devices. It's far from perfect, but it's the best football experience you're going to get on the iPod touch and is more than worth the money.
I paid £1.79 but at time of review it is available for £2.99. Keep your eyes peeled for sales and you may nab it for a laughably low 59p.