Reviewed: November 1, 2011
Released: September 19, 2011
App Store Price: $4.99
I love soccer. I’ve played soccer in one form or another for most of my life. I’ve played soccer videogames since we had a PC and an Atari 2600 and every system we got from then on. So having that many years of playing, I can honestly say that FIFA 12 on the Xbox 360 and PS3 are by far my favorite sports games of all time. But it’s really been a mixed bag with soccer games on mobile devices. They certainly packed a lot of gameplay options on the Sony PSP version of FIFA, but the NDS wasn’t too far above what I played a decade ago. So when I started playing on my phone a few years ago, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve played the silly Flash based games (basically a penalty kick contest), but that’s not really soccer. Then I got an iPhone and, at last, quality games on the phone were possible.|
The soccer game market is a bit more competitive on the iPhone/iPad than with consoles. There are tons of soccer games on the Apple Marketplace, but only 3 that most people would consider serious contenders. Those being Gameloft's Real Soccer 2012, EA Sports’ FIFA 12, and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2012; each of them around $5 unless you catch a promotional deal. But be careful. This year several games are adopting in-game feature purchases to add more features to a pseudo “free” game.
EA's FIFA Soccer 12 has to be considered the frontrunner for soccer games. They have the money and resources to get all licenses for a realistic game from names to logos, stadiums and uniforms. Gameloft's Real Soccer has turned out to be a major competitor with yearly leaps in graphics and they have the FIFPro license so they now have authentic player names as well. Konami is focused on the game engine and gives more of a ‘power to the people’ approach by letting the users handle the custom teams and names. FIFA tries to pack as much into one package as possible, and they win sports game awards for doing so.
When I started playing soccer on the iOS, I of course assumed the gameplay would suffer. I was used to the Xbox 360 and the mountain of features to explore. When you move from disc based games to downloaded games, there is certainly a price to pay for mobility… and in this case the price is storage space. FIFA 12 for iOS weighs in at over 1GB. That’s a pretty big investment for people with 8GB or 16GB iPhones. But the 1GB also holds the enhanced graphics for the iPad in the package. It’s a bit of a tradeoff. The fun of playing FIFA Soccer with the mobility of the iPhone means you have to sacrifice controls and a few features. But surprisingly, the core of FIFA 12 is alive and well on iOS.
The graphics have improved every year and this year is certainly a step up. The players are not as blocky looking and many of the players are identifiable by looking at their faces. Hair is of course still an issue but that’s a very minor one. A lot of players have specific styles of play that are modeled in the game with startling accuracy. FIFA 12 even has Clive Tyldesley with Andy Townsend providing commentary. While the commentary has less variety than consoles, just having it on there is a step up from previous years with just the crowd noise and occasional chants.
The depth of features in FIFA 12 far exceeds what I’ve seen in other games and previous years. FIFA 12 includes 36 different stadiums, 22 officially licensed leagues, 500 teams and over 15,000 licensed players. That’s double the teams and players in other soccer games. It’s amazing! Signing in with Origin gets you access to achievements, trophies and a daily challenge. The surprisingly deep Manager Mode lets you make trades, upgrade staff, and scout for talent. The standard Quick Match let you play a quick friendly, or various practice modes, or just a penalty shoot-out.
Licensed leagues include: Australia (A-League), Austria (A. Bundesliga), Belgium (Pro League), Brazil (Liga do Brasil), Denmark (Superliga), England (Barclays Premiere League, npower Championship, npower League 1 & 2), France (Ligue 1 & 2), Germany (Bundesliga, 2. Bundesliga), Italy (Serie A & B), Korea Republic (Sonata K-League), Mexico (Primera Div Mex), Netherlands (Eredivisie), Norway (Tippeligaen), Poland (Polska Liga), Portugal (Liga Portuguesa), Republic of Ireland (Airtricity League), Russia (Russian League), Scotland (SPL), Spain (Liga BBVA, Liga Adelante), Sweden (Allsvenskan), Switzerland (Axpo SL), United States (Major League Soccer), and a “Rest of the World” which has 10 teams. Additionally there are 42 International teams. Compared to the console version of FIFA 12, the only teams missing are the Classic XI and World XI all-star teams.
The game controls are another mixed bag on mobile devices. The downside to these types of touch screen game controls is when you want your guy to run faster, the tendency is to move your thumb further in the direction for him to run - to kind of encourage him along. It can be a little frustrating when you guy doesn’t respond the way you want, but it all comes with the package using touch screen controls.
Having played all three of the major contenders on iPhone, I can say FIFA 12 is still my favorite. The revamped controls are a little better than previous efforts, but the entire package of enhanced graphics and amazing number of fully licensed teams and players really puts FIFA 12 above the rest.