Developer: EA Sports
Price: $6.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

It goes without saying that soccer is, by far, the most popular sport in the world. In accordance with their enjoyment of making money and producing yearly sports franchises, this week marks the release of EA Sports’ FIFA 13. Marking the publisher’s fourth outing on iOS (excluding FIFA World Cup, which was essentially a re-skinned FIFA 10) the game looks to bring several new innovations to the table that in many respects could make or break the game. Is this another glorious return to the pitch, or is could this year’s release be a shot that ends up ‘unlucky’?

Despite being one of the earliest sports franchises to adopt iOS as a valid platform, it has only been in the last season or so that it seemed that the FIFA brand could live up the stellar caliber of game experience provided by its console sibling. This year it seems like the development team has been completely unleashed in pursuit of the creating a perfect portable pitch experience. Visual representations are crisp and detailed, portraying a frenetic action that lends credence to these efforts. I had to pinch myself into the realization that this was not a game being played on a big screen television.

In terms of control systems, if players have ever played an EA soccer game in the past, they will still feel right at home, even with the presence of everyone’s favorite whipping boy: the onscreen d-pad. As is also the case with FIFA 13‘s console counterpart, there is a slight delay in button input that takes some getting used to. This brief period of hesitance should not be misconstrued as a performance issue, however, because in reality it determines the strength of the shot, pass or assorted actions based upon how long the button is pressed. Additionally, a series of gestural controls have also been worked into the game in the form of a “skill move” button. Pressing the button presents a grid on screen that can be used to make players perform complex ball-handling moves and trick plays.

Along with the traditional exhibition fare, there are tournament modes that recreate the championships of 30 of the world’s most popular leagues, a fully featured manager mode and even Origin-supported online multiplayer. Any player looking to take their FIFA fix on the road would be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive and extensively gratifying experience.

At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s not hard to argue that FIFA 13 is a pitch perfect adaption of the world’s sport. While that might be a bit extreme, the brand’s dedication to tweaking game mechanics until they are perfect, seems to be shining through loud and clear. Hardcore footie fans should look no further. Just imagine getting all of the action, with none of the riots afterwards. What more could a fan ask for?

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