2010 FIFA World Cup Review (iPhone)
EA Sports continues a tradition of porting its big-name games to the iPhone with the release of 2010 FIFA World Cup. By porting the games in its sports lineup, EA is slowly creating a "real sports" market on the platform -- a device that is full of over-the-top arcade games but lacking feature-rich simulation sports games. However, the EA name and FIFA does not mean automatic quality.
First, to get an idea of what you are getting, check out my iPhone FIFA review from the fall. While some notable improvements have been made since then, this version still feels like a very similar game to the one I previously reviewed. Of course, in this version, you get the national teams instead of club teams, and League Play and Manager Mode have been replaced with the FIFA World Cup. Whether these changes warrant a purchase of a similar game depends on your passion and understanding of international soccer -- it is more preference than it is "better or worse." That said, 2010 FIFA World Cup is the more polished game.
New and Improved
Notable improvements have been made to the controls, which feel a little tighter and more responsive than in the first FIFA game. The virtual joystick seems to transition better when switching between running and sprinting, and whether it was the improvements to the game or my ability, I did a lot less of the "running myself out of the play" maneuver.
The on-screen controls have been simplified as well. The first EA soccer game relied on a lot of swipes between buttons, which were not marked beyond a letter. In this game, the buttons are labeled based on context and no finger "sliding" is required. This makes the game much easier to control. If you go a long length of time between gaming sessions, it is also much easier to remember the controls.
The pass button has received a color contextual "aura" where blue indicates a short pass (tap) and gold indicates a long pass (hold). It is a good alternative to on-screen meters and makes striking a firm enough pass a little easier.
Also new is a context-sensitive skill button that occasionally appears to allow your player to pull off an advanced dribbling move. I found the skill moves to be effective, and the limited appearances of the button make it impossible to exploit its usefulness.
Similarly, an icon appears to indicate when a through pass is available. However, I had some difficulty immediately passing in the suggested direction and hitting the space before it closed. In other words, the arrow is not a guaranteed good idea. Of course, you are not required to use the advice regardless of how (in)accurate it is.
Either way, this game still has controls that require multiple taps, so it may help to occasionally visit the in-game help.
Captain Your Country
Perhaps the biggest marketed change is the "Captain Your Country" mode, although I did not find it to be that different from the "Be a Pro" mode in the previous game. You play from the a "behind the player" view and earn points based on your play in each game -- points upgrade your player.
If you enjoy career modes, then this mode is a great alternative to the main game -- one that honestly could sell for $7 by itself. I also like that each game is preceded and followed by a newspaper headline about your player. It is a nice little touch but one without much depth.
The biggest problems with this game can be discovered within the actual gameplay. It is obviously not as polished as the console versions, features some odd AI play and, despite all of the control changes, still feels a little "floaty." I do not feel that the AI presses enough either, especially on offense.
As a whole, the game lies somewhere between a slow simulation feel and a frenzied arcade feel. One man alone can move the ball a little too well, and executing shots and passes with accuracy is occasionally frustratingly difficult. However, I do not feel that these problems combined hurt the game enough to avoid it all together.
This game is a better game overall than the original FIFA iPhone game, but it also lacks the clubs that make the first so appealing. If you own the first FIFA game, I am not sure that it is worth a repurchase unless you are really into the World Cup. Still, it is solid for a portable sports game and features things like practice modes, various camera angles and stat tracking -- things that are usually left out of "phone versions" of ports. It is probably well worth the $7 if you are looking for a soccer game to play while vacationing this summer.
On the Field: Gameplay is not the strength here but suffices on a small portable platform. It is not as methodical as the console versions and is occasionally hard to control.
Graphics: Relatively unchanged from the previous game, but effective (and almost impressive) for an iPhone app.
Sound Design: The opening, featuring the tune from MVP 05(!), kicks off some nice sound elements. You can customize with your iPod music as well.
Entertainment Value: There is a lot here if you like World Cup soccer, especially for what is a low price (relatively speaking). Exhibition, World Cup, Captain Your Country and Penalty Shootout round out the set of modes.
Learning Curve: Pretty intuitive, except for the "hidden" controls like chip shot and one-two pass. A helpful on-screen tutorial is available as well.
Online: Only "local" multiplayer is available for this title.
Score: 7.0 (Good)