Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Football season is finally here, as non-Americans would say. FIFA 12 is now available on iOS, bringing EA's most recent take on "the beautiful game" to players. The standard list of features are here: soccer teams from countries and leagues that even the average soccer fan hasn't heard of. Several modes are here, from standard friendly matches, to a Manager mode, penalty shootout, and a daily challenge mode.
The controls are what will make or break this game for players. There are a wide number of commands to fit on to the touchscreen, especially the smaller screen of the iPhone and iPod touch. The controls have been mercifully culled down to a three button control scheme, with each button having different context depending on the situation, and different mechanics when sliding up and down. It leads to an amazing amount of control over time, but it also makes it difficult to learn the controls because so many options are available. As well, this means the screen can get very cluttered, and aiming shots is often difficult on the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPad controls are much easier to navigate due to the additional screen space.
As for the gameplay itself, it plays a lot like a console version of the game, in both good ways and bad ways. A lot of actions need to be performed well ahead of time, in part because of the shot power meter, which also seems ridiculously overpowered. Light taps are needed for most passes and shots, lest they go wildly out of bounds or straight into the willing body of a defender. The difficulty seems to go on a curve from "way too easy" to "some resistance but not a huge challenge" to "Good luck even getting shots on goal" to "Here there be monsters." Most players will want to settle on Amateur for a fun casual experience, while those looking for serious gameplay will want to move along to higher difficulties. The game has no wireless multiplayer at all; the iPad version has multiplayer with two iOS devices used as controllers, but the controller app can't be used for single player play. Oh, and the goalkeeping is absolutely atrocious, no matter what difficulty the game is set to. Falling down is not defense, silly goalies!
However, this is a solid game of soccer. The daily challenge mode encourages the kind of long-term daily playing that makes a game like 1000 Heroz (now known as Thousand Heroes) so addictive. As well, the Manager mode, while daunting for newcomers, should provide a quality combination of management and gameplay for those looking for a deeper experience from this game. This game is best served for the soccer faithful who wants a deep game on the go, more than just the casual player looking for a quick game on the go.