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When it comes to football games – both American and the soccer variety – EA has the market cornered. With that in mind, it would be easy for the company to phone it in and just release a low-quality game with the expectation that fans of the sport will be happy to spend the money just to play as their favorite players.
Thankfully, EA did not take this approach with this free-to-play football game. FIFA 14 on iOS brings a slightly simplified version of the sport to the platform with a level of grace and beauty that is perfectly suited to the sport itself.
When a game is available as a free-to-play release, it raises some serious red flags for me. In most cases, I would prefer to just pay one flat fee for a game, and then enjoy the entire thing.
In this case, EA knocked it out of the park. You can download the game and play for free all you want. It lets you take part in most of the modes, and there is almost an infinite number of enjoyment to be had. For a one-time-fee of $4.99 you can pay to unlock all the modes, which is awesome.
Most of the other in-app purchases involve the Ultimate Team mode. You can play this mode all you want without spending money, but you will progress faster if you choose to throw down a little cash. Nothing about it is intrusive, and other companies (or EA divisions) could learn a lot about how to run a F2P game from FIFA 14.
How Does It Play?
FIFA 14 offers two different control schemes. The first, and the one it starts you with is terrible. Instead of the controls appearing on the screen, as it does in most iOS games, it uses only gestures. It just feels uncomfortable in every way, and even after playing two or three full games with it, it just never felt right to me.
Thankfully, switching to the classic controls with on-screen buttons solved all of my control issues. It’s still hampered by the lack of physical buttons, but as far as on-screen controls go the controls are quite good. It’s important to remember that the gameplay is slightly simplified from the console version so it works incredibly well. Even with this mode there are some gestures, but they are for advanced techniques, and are optional.
There is plenty to do in FIFA 14, and a good amount of it is available without you having to spend a dime. You can play the Ultimate Team where you collect new players as you progress. This is where you will spend a good amount of your time, as it takes a while to get your team from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the heap.
Another cool mode is the Football Club Match Day, which downloads a few matches that you can play. All the rosters from your favorite clubs are current, which is great for hardcore fans of the sport. There is also a penalty kick shootout mode that is a lot of fun when you only have a minute or two to pick up and play.
The last mode is multiplayer which works over the Internet and requires Wi-Fi. I had issues connecting, but when I did find a game after a few tries it worked pretty well.
Other modes like Manager, Tournament, and Kick Off are available through an in-app purchase, but even if you elect to never play them, you won’t be short of things to do.
Visuals and Sound
FIFA 14 looks absolutely fantastic. It will push older devices to the limit, but as long as you have an iPhone 4S or later, you should have no problem taking part in the football splendor.
The level detail is high, whether actually playing on the pitch or watching the cutscenes that occur after a goal celebration. EA did a great job on this one from a visual standpoint, which really helps to add to the authentic football experience.
FIFA 14 offers the ability to download commentary in many languages, which means you can enjoy the call in the language you understand (or if you really want to get crazy, one you don’t).
Is FIFA 14 perfect? Most certainly not, but it’s as close to a console level of football as you are going to find on any portable platform. Plus, it’s free, so there is really no reason not to download on your device of choice and take it for a spin. All of the in-app purchases are reasonable, and there is a one-time fee to just unlock everything, which is how all free-to-play games should work. Just play it – you will not regret it.
Download: FIFA 14 (Free)
What did you think of FIFA 14 on iOS. How do you think it compares to the full console game? What’s your favorite sports game overall? Hit the comments section below and let us know!