Game Reviews


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| FIFA 13
| FIFA 13

As the old football cliche goes, it's not getting to the top that's the hard thing - it's staying there.

Of course, there's also a saying that the first title win is the hardest, but let's ignore that unhelpful contradiction like we do Alan Shearer's punditry.

Last year's iOS versions of FIFA finally lived up to its name and provided a fine approximation of the beautiful game. Can FIFA 13 maintain its form?

Close control

Yes, in a word. It's not quite the Manchester City-like leap in quality and fortunes that FIFA 12 proved to be, and there are a number of niggles that need treating, but it does invest wisely in a couple of key signings to keep things fresh.

FIFA on iOS remains a slick, fluid facsimile of the console series, wisely holding back a little of the complexity and challenge in favour of a more intuitive kick-around.

There's a precise virtual analogue stick (which used to be a contradiction in terms) that seems to register full 360-degree movement - or at least more than eight directions. This is complemented by a set of virtual buttons that prove to be surprisingly easy to find in the heat of battle.

Cleaning up the dribble

The new addition to the control roster this year is the virtual skill stick. Echoing the console version's use of the second analogue control stick, it lets you initiate a number of tricks and shimmies by pressing and then dragging the skill control.

Initially you'll use it for quick two-footed shimmies or teasing drag-backs, but after a while you'll realise you can execute more advanced skills by dragging the stick through multiple directions.

Not all of the skills prove especially useful, but they're reasonably quick to pull off, and mastering at least some of them is essential given the generally ponderous nature of the default dribble.

Sloppy technique

As before, there are a number of advanced moves that you can execute through a combination of button-presses, but you can ignore all that if you just want a casual kick-around on one of the lower difficulty levels (which you'll want to do, as anything below Semi-Pro is a cakewalk from the start).

Still, some of these moves are a little too fiddly or poorly defined. The one-two works well with a simple slide from pass to sprint establishing a run, but the implementation of the through ball doesn't feel right - a quick hold of 'pass' followed by a flick up somehow proves unreliable when exploiting a rapidly closing gap.

Sending players on runs by physically touching and dragging them is just about doable when the game's being played at Serie A pace. But just try doing it around a congested box while playing on an iPad, where you have to take your hand away from the controls. It doesn't really work.

We're still not sure about the flick-to-kick free kick system either. It's like a poor compromise between console footy and Flick Kick Football, and it's a bit of a dud.

Team spirit

Still, FIFA 13's biggest addition largely makes up for any persistent control niggles. At last, we have online play!

It works very well, too, with a fluid interface and decent connection stability. Sure, you'll experience the odd connection drop-out, but that's the same with any online game.

The game deals smartly with drop-outs, too - anyone throwing a temper tantrum and quitting out won't get away with it.

You get five pauses each through which you can make tactical changes, timely substitutions, or just go and answer the door without conceding a goal - although you have to be in possession to do so.

Barring the odd glitch, this is a fine way to experience FIFA's easy-going brand of football - and there's an RPG-like experience system to keep you coming back for more, too, if such virtual currency is your thing.

League position consolidated

Elsewhere, you get all the FIFA trappings. Slick menus, licences-a-plenty (players, teams, and music tracks), and even decent likenesses for the more high profile players.

There's also a one-off Tournament mode, which provides a nice compromise between the Quick Match and Manager Modes if you want something a little more than a quick bash but can't be doing with all the transfer malarkey.

FIFA 13 consolidates its position as the premier iOS footy sim. It hasn't made the strides forward in basic playability that FIFA 12 made, and there are one or two control issues that really need to be tightened or revamped.

But the addition of online play and a skill stick do enough to keep this moneybags team competitive at the top of the table for another year.


As slick as ever and now with online play, FIFA 13 plays a mean game of football in spite of one or two control issues
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.