An integral aspect of re-training for the annual FIFA release is adapting to the various changes to core gameplay mechanics. For FIFA 14 on consoles, alterations to ball physics and player momentum have been so dramatic that hard-core followers of the series have had to perform a complete system reset to adjust. Changes to a formula that is a proven success always require time and dedication to perfect, so it is quite endearing to see that EA have not shirked their responsibilities to the ever-increasing fan base they have for the IOS version of FIFA 14.
Football games on the IOS market take a variety of forms. New Star Soccer focused on key moments of a single player career whilst Big Win Soccer 2013 was based around a slightly rough around the edges Ultimate Team framework. These games are both entertaining to play, though have never really felt complete. Of course, this is down to the third party developers not having the same level of experience and financial backing that EA is known for, but this does highlight how far the FIFA series stands above others. After the success of FIFA 13 on IOS, EA were under no real obligation to innovate beyond the obvious; a lick of paint here, a few new teams there. No threat has arisen from the market place recently to challenge them, though there have still been a significant number of changes.
Right off the bat, controls are noticeably enhanced from previous titles. FIFA 13 took every opportunity to mention ‘the most responsive controls ever delivered on IOS’. Indeed it was helpful to see an on screen joystick with marked buttons, although they were quite small and tricky to grasp. Overhauled controls on FIFA 14 now remove buttons and provide free-flowing touch controls which generate controlled and fluent gameplay. Tapping to pass, dragging to run and swiping to shoot are all responsive commands that are gratifying to execute as you begin to feel fully in control of every player on your team. Character animations have been improved with graphics also receiving that aforementioned ‘lick of paint’; creating some of the most realistic 3D player models I have seen within the IOS market.
Introducing the touch controls has manipulated the entire functionality of the game as it is now, quite literally, more hands on. Players dictate every action through their fingertips and as such are entirely responsible for everything from player movement to inch-perfect through balls. A great deal of focus is required to succeed (particularly on the higher difficulty settings), though pulling off well-worked routines and skills moves makes for a much more satiating experience when it has been, again literally, hand-crafted. Getting to grips with the new control scheme is highly recommended, though there is the option to refer back to the old format if need be.
The new gameplay style adopted in FIFA 14 was, bluntly, well implemented. Though, I am still noticing an issue with shooting which has recurred throughout the IOS series. Scoring is ridiculously easy, to the point where any strike from thirty to forty yards out is more likely than not to find the back of the net with a bit of practice. Unless I have a natural talent for shooting (which seems unlikely given my online record), then it would seem the developers are compensating for the tricky controls. As I’ve said, the new control system is a great improvement, though the number of commands needed for the game to function makes it inherently tricky to control no matter how ‘innovative’ the new ones are. It removes a fundamental element of football when the task becomes a matter of getting it into the opponents half rather than the box to score, as no build up play is required.
When installing the game, I was unsurprised to find the freemium model rear its ugly head as it has in so many EA creations for IOS. Though what did surprise me was how generous they are being with one of their flagship titles. My expectations were to download the game for free and then pay a premium price to unlock the majority of games modes. However FUT, Online matches and Game of the Week fixtures are available without purchase, whilst additional modes such as Kick-off, Tournament and Manager cost a mysteriously low £2.99. Considering that £2.99 is the cost to download FIFA 13, it seems a reasonably priced IAP to unlock all that the game has to offer. I imagine this low price is to encourage players to part from FIFA 13 and it honestly seems as good a reason as any.
With regards to the game modes, I would recommend the additional features if you intend to play FIFA 14 anywhere away from a stable WI-FI connection. FUT and Online will not run on 3G whilst any Game of the Week will need to be downloaded pre-emptively and even then will be quite restrictive in terms of variety. Having Kick-off and Manager mode at your disposal means you can get your FIFA fix whilst away from the console version.
For those with access to a console, the IOS version of FIFA 14 will be nothing more than a backup; a substitute of sorts that may only get the occasional twenty minutes in the spot light but shines none-the-less. For those ever increasing numbers whose gaming experience is dominated by IOS devices, genuine improvements to a beloved title are always going to be welcomed with open arms. Especially if that title can hold its head high as one of, if not the, most impressive football title on IOS to date. FIFA 14 for iOS gets 8 out of 10
- New controls enhance gameplay.
- Free to download with cheap IAP’s.
- General graphical and audio improvements.
- Controls take practice.
- Very dependent on WI-FI.
- No challenge in scoring.