The last FIFA I played on any form of handheld was FIFA 09 on the Nintendo DS. It was painful. Graphically it was appalling, it felt clunky and I didn’t feel they tried to do anything innovative with the touch screen.
Since I got my Iphone4 I’ve really taken to portable gaming. I’ve had a DS for years but never bothered using it on my commute because I hated having to carry an extra piece of hardware and individual carts around with me, but as I always have my Iphone in my pocket, it’s made gaming on the move much more accessible.
FIFA 11 is currently on the app store for £2.99, which I think is pretty reasonable for an app/game of this size. It’s an 858MB download and is listed as being compatible with Iphone4, 3GS and Ipod Touch 3rd Gen or above. The comments tell a different story with many Ipod touch users stating that it won’t run for them. I had no problems downloading on my Iphone4 and overall it runs pretty well. I do however, get massive instances of sluggishness. Usually about one per half, per game, lasting a second or two. It’s not game-breaking, but it’s very very frustrating and completely knocks the rhythm out of the game when it happens.
Graphically the game is much better than I was expecting. The menus are crisp and detailed, whilst on the pitch things are a massive improvement over FIFA 10 on the Iphone, which i downloaded for comparison. FIFA 11 definitely seems to have been built with the Iphone4’s Retina Display in mind. It’s not revolutionary by any means, with a lot of the player models being recycled from older console titles (06 i think…) along with some of the animations, but it’s still pretty easy on the eye. I’ve taken a fair few screens and put them in a gallery at the bottom of the page.
Off the pitch things are a bit lacking. The Multi-player option in the menu is greyed out and labelled as coming soon, but there is no indication either in Itunes, In Game or on EA’s website when that will be updated and what it will include. Kick Off and Practise Arena are obvious inclusions, as are league and cup campaigns, but those are sadly let down by only letting you run one concurrent save of each type and the fact that there is no promotion relegation between leagues, once the season is done, start over.
There are 32 leagues to choose from including the Bundesliga, Barclays Premier League, MLS Serie A and Liga BBVA, as well as Internationals. I played through a season as Aldershot and finished mid-table, the end of season screen just said “Defeated by Rivals!” before putting me back in the league menu, which was a bit disappointing.
The layout of the League Hub is excellent, with the main screen showing you your next opponents and their league position and points compared to yours, and on the right hand side the league table is summarised showing the top three, relegation zone and your current position. In Stats central you can view the full league table (only the league you are playing in) and player stats for all teams across that league.
The controls are largely good but I do find the floating joystick unresponsive at times and it occasionally has trouble registering sprint commands. Strangely this can be improved by turning off large buttons and large stick in the menus, making them a lot more responsive, but still not perfect. Passing is assisted, but you can still power passes up to hit them longer, same goes for shooting. Pass choice isn’t always great if there is more than one option, I’ve found myself passing to the wrong player many times, not such a big deal in the middle, but hugely frustrating when in the final third, although this can be avoided by using the touch screen controls instead of the on screen buttons. The touch commands give you a lot more freedom on the pitch and depending on how you play, may end up being preferable to using the buttons on screen. Whilst in possession, you can tap a team mate to pass to him, or tap and slide him to set him off on a run. It’s not completely accurate and you can’t curve the runs but it is useful for sending strikers into the box or creating space by dragging players around. Defensively you can tap a player to switch to them which is useful when all of your defenders are in view as the switch choice isn’t always the option you want.
In terms of editable settings, most of the options you would expect are there. You can enable or disable injuries, bookings and offsides, set the half length to 2,3,4,6,8 or 10 minutes, change the difficulty, choose one of the six available cameras (Dynamic, Sideline Broadcast, Tele, Action, End to End) and toggle the commentary/music/SFX.
So far, I’m really impressed, although I think I will probably just stick to playing Kick Off games now that I have played through a season in league mode and finished an F.A cup. There just isn’t much draw to play them again and be tied to playing as one team for the length of the competition. I’m finding the game-play pretty addictive and playing it every single day on the train, so for all it’s flaws, it still does most things right. It’s definitely worth the 3 Quid entrance fee. Unless you’ve got an Ipod Touch…