FIFA 15 Ultimate Team is a game about numbers. From the skill ratings of the players you add to your side, to the cost of the packs of cards you buy, it's a considered and intelligent game of balancing the books.
But there's football to be played as well, and as you might expect it's polished and entertaining.
There's a vast range of balls to kick and tactics to employ, and the mechanics of slipping a through ball or smashing a screamer are slick and well thought out.
It's not the perfect footballing experience, and there are times when some of the ideas involved get muddied or confused, but if you're looking for a game that's as much about building a team as it is controlling it, then it comes highly recommended.Have it
Ultimate Team is all about creating your perfect mix of players. That involves hard work, a grasp of the underlying concepts that EA has built the game around, and a not inconsiderable amount of luck.
You start out with a bog standard collection of middling players, but for the first few hours there's a steady drip of new card packs that let you build your team into something a little more formidable. It's not just a case of having the best players in the best positions though.
There's also cohesion to think about. This is represented by chemistry. You might have a crack strike team, but if their chemistry is low then they won't function as well as they should. Players from the same country, the same league, or the same real-world team, will play better together.
These links are shown on your squad page. Green links are the strongest, while orange and red are less cohesive. It's an interesting system, and means you need to make some tactical decisions about who plays where.
It also means you want to grab as many packs of players as you can, and that it's worth keeping a strong squad of reserves to switch things around if it's not working out.A game of multiple portions
When it comes to the actual football, you've got two control options. Casual is a combination of buttons, a D-pad, and optional taps and swipes. Control assists let you take a back-seat approach, giving the AI free reign to run around while you control the finer points of the game.
The classic controls take away the swiping, leaving you with a selection of buttons. You can still tap to change players, but it's a far more rigid system that's suited to players used to the console versions.
There are problems with the casual controls though. If your thumb slips off the D-pad it's possible to draw a squiggle on the screen that'll see your player hoofing the ball out of play or performing a sliding tackle with no one else around.
It can be frustrating, but the swipe-to-shoot controls and the tapped through-balls just about manage to make up for it.
There's a solid wodge of matches to play too. Online seasons let you battle it out in leagues with other players, or if you prefer to fly solo there are plenty of cups and championships to play.
There are constantly updated games of the week taken from the actual leagues, and a team of the week based on stats from the past seven days.Goalposts for goalposts
FIFA 15 Ultimate Team is a brilliantly put together football game. Its free to play mechanics don't get in the way of your enjoyment, but if you want to splurge they're reasonably priced.
It has some niggles - EA still hasn't worked out how to make touchscreen football work, and some won't like the fact that you can't just take your favourite real-world team through a season.
But that polish, and the overwhelming urge to build your own team into something formidable, makes FIFA 15 Ultimate Team well worth a look.