FIFA 14 has made it to mobile devices and is looking to put big time soccer fun in the palm of your hands. Does this shrunken football game have what it takes to stand up to its console cousins, or does it run out of stamina before getting halfway down the pitch?
I enjoy soccer as much as the next guy who's not particularly into sports, so I went into FIFA 14 with no expectations, ready to just ease myself into the magical world of football as a complete neophyte. Now, I'm always a little wary when developers try to recreate big name console game experiences on the smaller screens of iOS devices, so I really didn't know what to expect when it came to FIFA 14. What I found was that whether you're a die-hard fan of the sport or not, FIFA 14 has something to offer everyone, even if it's at a cost.
As soon you jump into FIFA 14, you're made to pick your club and team for the tutorial. In this sample match-up, you'll face off against the computer while learning the ropes. The one thing that EA wants to hammer into your mind is how to use the fancy touch flow controls. This basically means that you can control all of your players by using one finger to tap, hold and swipe.
Tapping on a player prompts whichever teammate has possession of the ball to pass it, holding down on a player will allow you to fully control him and drag him around the pitch and swiping towards the goal will cause your player to kick it in. If you're on defense, tapping on the player with possession of the ball puts pressure on him and swiping towards him results in a tackle. Just be sure not to abuse the tackles or else it'll end up raining yellow cards on your head. I had my initial concerns, but the more games I played, the more natural this control style felt. It was fast, it was fluid and seemed to be the easiest way for me to control my players. If you'd rather go old school and use the virtual buttons, it's still a totally viable option; it's just a lot quicker to go with the full touch controls.
If there's one thing I can say about FIFA 14, it's that it is a comprehensive soccer experience. Not only do you get to play games with your current favorite teams, but there are also tons of other modes to explore. The most notable mode is Ultimate Team, in which you can pick a captain and create your own dream team using cards that feature players and other items. Assembling a team takes a lot of work, especially when it comes to assigning positions and making sure teammates have good chemistry together. Chemistry informs a player's ability to perform in his position and how well he works with other players. The closer your chemistry gets to green, the better it is for the team.
You can get players and items by buying packs in the store or earning them in-game. You can either buy them with coins or FIFA points, the latter being the premium currency that can be bought with real money. Each pack contains players, uniforms or ability boosts that are usable in the Ultimate Team menu.
Some of the other modes include Games of the Week, Penalty Shootout and Online play. Games of the Week is a mode that lets you recreate real-world matches from the week. Penalty Shootout lets you practice your shooting and saving skills in a series of penalty shootouts. Online play is self-explanatory and hooks you up against players around the world.
Now, all of this is plenty of content, especially since the game is free. But there are three locked modes that are only accessible after you purchase them. These modes are Manager Mode, Kick Off and Tournament. Buying a Premium Pack for $4.99 unlocks these modes for play.
Besides the different play modes, FIFA 14 houses a huge customization menu and lots of social networking integration. You'll be able to track all of your stats via EA Origin and can post your activity to Facebook. If you have friends that play FIFA 14 on iOS, you'll be able to see their progress on the EA Football Club leaderboard and even challenge them to friendly games. Unless you burn through all of the content within a day, you won't run out of things to do in FIFA 14.
For a free game, FIFA 14 is an amazing value and packs in all of the fun and deep content of a console sports game down into a mobile platform. You don't have to spend a dime to enjoy yourself and there's enough for you and your friends to do that FIFA 14 can, at the very least, become a fun distraction. Even if you don't particularly enjoy sports games, FIFA 14 is fun enough to get you tapping for at least 20 minutes at a time. You may not turn into a hooligan, but you'll find yourself yelling, "GOOOOAL!" or throwing up your hands whenever you score. And that makes FIFA 14 a winner in my eyes.
App Store Link: FIFA 14 by EA Sports for iPhone & iPad | By Electronic Arts | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.2 | 1.17GB | Rating: 4+