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FIFA Soccer 13 for iOS finally convinced me that a console sports game could be distilled into a touch-based mobile experience. It’s not without its flaws, and play sometimes feels a little cramped, but FIFA 13 still notches some very respectable goals.
EA Sports nailed the control scheme for this year’s release, although button presses are occasionally slow to register. Gestures for runs, skill moves, and crosses work particularly well. Players turn sharply and generally do what you expect, while the A.I. teammates do a decent job of helping out. It can sometimes be too easy to sprint through the opposition to score a solo goal, but much like the console entries, the emphasis here is primarily on passing.
Matches have a great flow to them, aided no doubt by the gorgeous visuals and excellent commentary. I forgot sometimes that I was playing a mobile game, only brought back when my eyes lost focus from staring too intently at the small screen. You can adjust the camera angle and zoom, finding just the right balance between seeing the action and knowing who is where on the pitch.
There's great depth in Manager Mode, which puts you in charge of the back room affairs as well as on-field action of a team from any of 30 leagues around the world -- with domestic (but not continental) cup competitions and promotion/relegation included. You can also dive right into a tournament or quick match, minus all that management stuff. International teams are only available for quick matches, unfortunately, while a disappointing online match play mode requires registration for EA’s Origin service. It’s janky and lags considerably unless both players have a good, stable connection, in which case it’s fantastic. But that's rare.
The bottom line. FIFA Soccer 13 packs a killer shot with excellent controls and presentation, with only some minor issues keeping it from utter brilliance.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Great touch and gesture-based controls. Gorgeous graphics and top-notch presentation. Deep Manager Mode offers heaps of replayability.
Online multiplayer struggles under less-than-perfect connections. No international tournaments. Button presses sometimes unresponsive.