Developer: Electronic Arts
Price: $9.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When it comes to sports games on the iPhone, soccer has faired perhaps best of all. Real Soccer 2010 and X2 Football 09 are certainly worthy contenders, but FIFA delivers tentatively the best soccer experience yet with an impressive amount of content of good gameplay.

FIFA has an absolute bevy of content. There are 30 leagues, 570 teams, 20 tournaments, and 12,620 players, all licensed, though some of the player stats are questionable. There is Manager Mode, where you take the role of an executive with full control over your roster, tournament mode where you enter a tournament, Be a Pro mode, where you can create your own player from scratch, upgrading his stats RPG-style as you go along, and more. All of these game modes do create an impressive amount of replay value, but unfortunately the multiplayer is local only, somewhat dampening the appeal.

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Surprisingly, FIFA only uses two action buttons. A is pass and B is shoot, but you can do an impressive multitude of things by either double tapping or sliding your finger from one button to the other. Unfortunately, combinations such as A-B-A are extremely difficult to execute. The controls require some practice, but after that, they become easy with the exception of the three button combos. For movement, there are two choices. First, there’s a joystick, that frustratingly only moves in eight-directions, but is good nonetheless. Sprinting is accomplished by moving the joystick very far away from center. Then there’s the accelerometer option. I’m not sure why anyone would ever think it was a good idea, because the accelerometer movement, with a button to sprint, is just unusable. The gameplay is certainly among the best for soccer games thus far. Physics are solid, AI is fairly good, and goals don’t come easily or cheaply. In addition, the pitch is actually correctly sized, as opposed to Real Soccer’s mini-field. Overall, the gameplay is fast, fun, and rewarding, while never feeling cheap.

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Graphics are slightly above average. While the field is good and animations are mostly smooth, the player models are fairly basic and lack enough distinction or accuracy. The interface, though, is simply baffling. In order to manage your roster, you need to drag up and down a selection box (rather than simply tapping on a player), but more often than not you’ll simply scroll down. The process is arduous and frustrating while requiring a learning curve, which is simply inexcusable. This is complemented by a strange interface bug that jumbles all your players to different positions. Sound effects are good, however, and while the lone commentator has a severely limited repertoire, the commentary is always accurate.

Even with its flaws, FIFA 10 stands as the best soccer game on the App Store; though at $9.99, it’s tough to say if its worth the additional money over its competition.

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