FIFA 07 Mobile
| FIFA 07

Strictly speaking, a realistic football simulation nowadays would have to include bungs, roasting and shrieking WAGs, rather than any on-pitch action. But while the world awaits a publisher brave enough to tackle the off-field exploits around the beautiful game, we'll have to make do with good old-fashioned passing, moving and shooting.

FIFA 07 still appears on mobile with something to prove, mind. It may be the top-selling footy series on console, but on mobile FIFA hasn't quite hit the target in the past.

Previous versions have strived to squeeze the console game onto mobile, with results that while technically impressive, were often a bit fiddly and unrewarding to actually play.

Well, it's time to stand up and give EA Mobile (and developer Distinctive Developments) a huge Mexican Wave. By Jose, they've done it! Made FIFA a fun mobile game, we mean. And they've done it by stripping down the controls and tweaking the player movement without losing the slick presentation that's always been FIFA's hallmark.

As ever, there's several gameplay modes. Training lets you get a feel for the controls, either in free-play mode, or practising free kicks and penalties. Meanwhile, Friendly mode lets you match up any two teams from the game.

The meat of FIFA is to be found in Season mode though, where you play a whole season in one of the five featured leagues – England, France, Germany, Spain or Italy – while Scenarios mode has a set of classic matches where you have to beat the opposition.

FIFA 07 is licensed up to the hilt, so there's not a made-up player or team name in sight. Plaudits are due for its strategic depth, too. You can tinker with your line-up, formation, playing style and set-piece takers to your heart's content. This is what you'd expect from a FIFA game, but it's all very well-implemented.

But it's the Fun Factor that makes FIFA 07 great. Here's an example that sums it up. In our first game playing it – Arsenal against Bolton – we spent 30 seconds stroking the ball around the pitch, before advancing on goal and cracking a scorcher into the top corner to go 1-0 up.

Just like the real thing? True, but more importantly, it was fun, and instantly rewarding. And that's not a coded way of saying the game is too easy, as we didn't go on to win 18-0. But in FIFA 07, passing is easy, shooting is easy, even tackling is easy (a real departure in this genre).

What do we mean by easy? Well, your players run straight ahead, with you just turning them left or right – a nod to the system that worked so well in this year's Playman World Soccer game. What it comes down to is this: on FIFA 07, you're playing football, not wrestling with the controls.

Other good stuff: the graphics on the N70 version we reviewed are excellent, offering a variety of camera angles, and cool TV-style replays. There's also a tutorial included, which does a good job of introducing you to the various controls.

There are still niggles. The action can feel a bit pedestrian at times, and the goalkeepers alternate between passable and rubbish, seemingly at random (we would insert a cheap David James joke here, if he wasn't playing so well this season).

But there's no doubt that EA and Distinctive have kicked FIFA into shape for mobile, with the result a genuine Premiership contender, rather than an also-ran. Even without the WAGs.

FIFA 07 Mobile

Revamped controls mean this is a whole new ball game – shooting straight to the top of the league
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)