FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Mobile Review
Earlier, I took a look at EA’s mobile version of Madden 15 for iOS devices, and criticized some of its free-to-play mechanics and lack of any real challenge. I’m happy to say that FIFA 15, while not a great game, is a much more enjoyable experience.
FIFA 15:UT plays about as well as could be expected, considering its target devices have no sticks or buttons. I’m not sure any would argue that the iPhone/iPad are great action sports platforms, but EA does what it can with the system. In fact, FIFA's casual control method makes good use of the touch interface.
Using the casual mode, you can use a series of touches and swipes to control the ball. It’s a pretty limited system, but easy to grasp. The touch controls are a bit finicky—it’s easy to swipe too quickly and bomb the ball ahead of your strikers, etc. But for the casual fan, it’s a decent control system that takes little practice and memorization.
For those of you who prefer a little more tactical allowance, the “classic” system is a better fit. Basically, it puts much of what you can do on a console into a few virtual buttons. Each of the buttons can be modified with a fairly simple gesture. For example, Double-"clicking" on the control pad gives you precise control of your dribbles; swiping up on the pass button sends a player on a run. Since the buttons change labels depending on the context, it isn’t difficult to remember what each does.
Overall, I think the on-field play is respectable. Players move well, and the ball carries with realistic momentum. The difficulty seems fairly balanced, though I’ve won many more games than I’ve lost at this point. However, I rarely felt like I was dominant, which wasn’t true of Madden. Gameplay does skew toward a more arcade “run and gun” style, but I suppose that’s expected for a mass market soccer game.
There’s also an interesting simulation mode, which puts a few tactical decisions in your hands while the game sims in the background. You can control strategy and effort using simple sliders. I wish it were a little faster to sim, but it remains a nice option.
Like iOS Madden, FIFA 15: UT is based on the Ultimate Team mode found in console game -- so much so that the name is in the title. If you like this mode, which is essentially a trading card-based team manager, you’ll like the format of this title. Beyond playing selected real “games of the week,” you’ll be spending most of your time gathering and managing a mixture of players — not playing as your favorite team.
Once you’ve established your initial roster, there are a few ways to play. You can take your team through a ladder of seasons, earning coins to buy new players along the way. You can also enter tournaments, though you’ll have to meet certain entry requirements.
These requirements are one of the few gameplay barriers present in FIFA 15: UT. The function more as goals, rather than limiters. There doesn’t appear to be “stamina” or tickets or anything else to limit how much you can play in a day. Sure, you can invest real money to quickly boost your team; but I haven’t found any other reason to drop real dollars on this game.
Again, everything animates and moves very well. Lighting is surprisingly good for a phone game, as are the replays after each score.
Commentary is available as a free download and is about what you’d expect. Otherwise, the sound package is acceptable.
Finally, EA knows how to produce a stunning and functional UI, complete with tutorials in nearly every area. On the field, helpful graphics display player direction and triggered tactics.
FIFA 15: UT is a good game, considering its platform and content limitations. It does a decent job of utilizing the phone/pad’s touchscreen controls, and features a variety of ways to play. It’s free-to-play nature doesn’t intrude that much, especially if you like to play solely versus the AI.
Again, I’m not sure if playing soccer on a phone will ever be great; plus, in a crowded mobile market, there are titles much better suited for the device for just a few dollars more. But, if you need your football fix while on lunch break or your daily commute, FIFA 15: UT will likely get the job done.
Score: 5 (Average)