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FIFA 13 for iPhone and iPad Review: Subtly Different, Still Remarkably Great

With the release of FIFA 13, it’s officially football season in the App Store. And the best news? There are no replacement refs in the best soccer game available for iPhone/iPad.

EA Sports has been releasing FIFA games yearly since 2010, so one might say FIFA Soccer 13 comes from a long line of tradition. Back in 2010 the idea of a soccer sim you could carry in your pocket was relatively groundbreaking, but now we’ve come to expect polished gameplay and astounding visuals—even if it is all happening on a screen that’s 4.5-inches tall… The amazing thing is that EA has been able to keep pace with our expectations, and FIFA 13 is the best installment yet. By keeping the core functionality largely the same but tweaking for refinement, they’ve found a balance that’s worth $6.99 whether you’re brand new to the franchise or have been playing since 2010.

We’ll start with what’s mostly the same… If you’ve played any of the past versions, then you should be able to hit the ground running and kicking in FIFA 13. You still use a virtual stick on the left side of the screen for player movement, and buttons on the right side allow you to do things like sprint, pass, shoot, or perform a skill move (new!). It’s all glued together with the same amazing game engine that has made FIFA soccer several notches above the competition for many years. And with additions like the skill moves and new passing options, there’s no doubt that the gameplay shows advancement from FIFA 12.

While the actual feel of the game is much the same, it would be impossible to pick up FIFA 13 and not notice how different it looks. EA clearly focused a lot of their effort on providing more detail when it comes to player animations and even facial expressions. The combined affect of the visual improvements provides a lot of added value to the awesome 360-degree instant replay system… With the action unfolding in such a vivid, realistic manner, you’ll definitely want to make use of the new replay sharing feature that makes it easy to post replays online.

Speaking of taking FIFA online, there is perhaps no better upgrade found in this version than the option to challenge friends online over the Origin platform… You might not end up going very deep with features like Tournament or Manager Mode (though both are worth your time), but who can resist the gratification of dominating another human being? It’s just another one of the improvements in FIFA 13 that is worth $6.99 on its own…Another feature just above everyone will enjoy is the option to pair up your iPhone and iPad (via Bluetooth) for the best-looking gameplay experience available… Sure, relegating the controls to your iPhone can lead to some errant touches and missed opportunities, but it’s awesome to see the action unfold on the expansive space of your iPad screen, and the challenge of managing separate controls proves worth it once mastered.

I’m not going to waste time trying to fabricate negatives, because any part of FIFA 13 that doesn’t immediately inspire awe ends up being inconsequential… With FIFA 13, EA Sports has maintained their position on top of the heap of soccer games selling in the App Store. It’s an accessible game that should bring in lots of new players, while still satisfying the veterans looking for something new and exciting… Luckily, the reality of online play means we all have more than enough reason to settle in and get good at this pocket-sized soccer sim… Wouldn’t want to suffer an embarrassing loss to anyone other than an AI opponent, would we?

Our Score: 4.5 Out of 5

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