FIFA 13 iOS Review

Champions again…

FIFA has had a meteoric rise on iOS. It’s first inception, FIFA 10, was rough around the edges and downright ugly, but this was way back in 2010 when mobile phones were first invented, silent film debuted in places called ‘Picture Houses’, and men got excited by a glimpse of womanly ankle. We were just glad to have FIFA in our pockets.

FIFA 11 was one heck of an upgrade. Swanky graphics never seen before on a mobile device, subtle animations, and fantastic, life-like commentary put it at the top of the iOS footy pile.

Last year, FIFA 12 made me want to marry it. Totally blew my socks off. If there was a better iPhone/Pad footy game out there, it didn’t exist, if that makes sense. It wasn’t perfect, but it was damn close. It also had legs, in a manner of speaking. It’s the first iOS game I’ve played for a year straight. I don’t mean I’ve been sitting with it for 365 days without showering (I tried, but my wife began complaining about the smell), but to this day, I’m still battling through Manager Mode as Sunderland, buying and selling players. Yes, Sunderland. Don’t judge me.

But if you’ve been knee-deep in last year’s version until two days ago, an initial FIFA 13 playthrough might leave you wondering just what has changed. You might ask yourself why you bothered spending another £5 on it instead of a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee.

Give it a chance though, and you’ll begin to realise that FIFA 13 focuses more on subtle refinements than blockbuster changes. Instead of your socks blowing off, they’ll be removed a little more lovingly. Call it sock seduction.

So what’s the same? Well, it’s still a football game (phew), it still looks fantastic, (albeit not as much of a graphical leap as previous instalments), animations are still silky, gameplay is a tad slower but still smooth, and you can still score some lovely organic goals, due to the quality of the game engine. Manager Mode also makes a return.

It all feels a little familiar at first. But this is truly a case of ‘If it aint broke, please improve it’. By the time you’ve messed around with it for 30 minutes or so, you’ll be able to see your reflection in the spit/shine EA have given the game. As a side note, ‘If it aint broke, please improve it’ is totally getting trademarked.

Let’s start on the pitch, where a number of minor improvements add up to a greater sum of parts. You can now slide two fingers across the screen to change your team’s mentality. That is to say, how much they attack or defend as a whole, not whether they suddenly lose all ambition and sod off to the dole office.

Without the ball, you can call for a second defender to hound the guy in possession, and One-Two’s have been included for the attacking side of things, making for a greater variety of options when trying to break down those who park the bus. Facial animations have been added when players celebrate goals or complain to refs. Ever wanted to see how EA would handle Ashley Cole’s teeth in a game? Now you can.

Not everything on the green grass is hunky-dory however. Last year EA presented two sets of controls, ‘Advanced’ gave you access to the kind of deft moves Barcelona would perform against a Sunday League outfit, and’ Basic’, pretty much made you the Sunday League outfit.

This time round the split control scheme has…split. Some of the commands are still a little awkward – holding down the pass button then sliding up for a finesse shot never seems to work when you want it to, often resulting in an embarrassing punt into Row Z when you’re through on goal. Or in other words, what Arsenal’s Gervinho does every week. But on the whole, the controls are simpler, while still allowing you to pull off every move you could before. Well, almost.

Unless I’m missing something, or I’m really thick (a distinct possibility), EA appear to have gotten rid of the ‘Long Ground Pass’. You know what I mean: an accurate pass across the floor, useful for hitting someone on the other side of the pitch when you don’t want to waste time putting the ball in the air. Unfortunately, that ‘air’ part is what FIFA seems to have fallen in love with.

You used to be able to hold down the pass button to achieve this, but the same move now makes your player attempt a long, lofted ball. The longer you hold it down, the further it goes. ‘Fine’, you say, ‘So we’ve got one less pass to master’.

The thing is, it’s not fine. I can see that EA have attempted to simplify things, and I applaud that because performing a long ball last year was too fiddly for it’s own good. But you wouldn’t always opt for a long ball every time a player is a distance away from you, sometimes it feels more natural to skid it along the turf and get on with things. An example of this  is when you have the ball with two team mates ahead of you. You might want to pass the ball to the furthest player in order for the nearer team mate to make a run, and then have the new player with the ball pass it into him.  The simplest way to do this is was with a ground pass. A lofted ball takes more time and is less instinctive. It’s all about tactics, son.

However, with these controls, if a team mate is any more than a few yards away, you’re forced to put it in the air when you shouldn’t have to.  It can even result in a breakdown of play as you lob it forwards where a grounded ball would’ve been better, only for your player to lose it trying to control it on his chest.  I guess it’s a case of getting used to the new method, but that long ground ball is already missed.

In other disappointments, the bug that appeared during 90% of free kicks which saw a defender completely unmarked in the box appears again.  It inevitably leads to cheap and easy goals. A big shame no one at EA spotted that. I can’t say I never exploited it though. Ahem.

And remember how I complained last year about the crowd suddenly going quiet at random points? Yeah, well I did. Go look it up. For the third year in a row, it’s still happening. In fact, it may even be worse. One minute you’ll hear lusty chants of ‘United, United!’ as you bear down on goal, only for the entire stadium to fall eerily silent for minutes at a time. The crowd do look a lot better though, so even if they don’t sound as good, they’ve at least managed to slap on some makeup.

Thankfully, screws have been tightened in other areas of the game which firm things up a good deal. Injuries now occur more frequently in Manager Mode, reading emails is a lot easier due to not having to click each one and waiting for it to load, and you’ll see photos of players, instead of a generic head in menu screens. When extending contracts, they’ll even sign a cheesy letter, complete with animation saying something like ‘This club is my home. I’m happy to be here!’ Until they bugger off to Real Madrid two seasons later, that is.

The biggest and most welcome change I’m sure we’ll all agree, is the introduction of online play. Finally you can now play, and lose, to real flesh and blood human beings on the other side of the globe. About time, but most welcome.

There are only two options for play – Quick Match with randoms and Online Friendly with your mates. Matches are automatically set to 4 minute halves and can’t be changed. For me it’s a little short; the game frequently fails to settle into a rhythm and is over too quickly, but I guess everyone has such a short attention span these days that the online experience is set up to dip in and out of. Speed dating, EA style.

Speaking of which, everything seems twice as fast online. Players move like whippets – think of a more arcadey style of play – and it’s a bit of a shock when you come over from single player, but you’ll soon get used to it. Using Orign, you can compare your progress on a friends leaderboard where you get 5 points for a win, 3 for a draw and 1 for a loss. Bizarre, but I suppose people just wouldn’t bother if they kept losing and getting nothing for it.

It can get a little laggy, with intermittent ‘Waiting for player’ messages popping up, but overall it’s smooth enough to be enjoyable, adding a long awaited feature to the mix. Some sort of competitive online setup would be nice, but the foundation looks to be solid.

And speaking of online, EA Sports Football Club makes it’s first appearance, meaning that every game you play earns you XP towards your favourite club’s rankings in the leaderboards. And thankfully you can now upload your replays to YouTube. With the kind of goals you can score, you’ll want to.

So FIFA 13 elicits less of a salivating exclamation, and more of a slow, knowing nod. One that gets more knowing as you discover how much it’s been improved, in little, but significant, ways.

Remember, if it aint broke, please improve it(TM). Consider my socks seduced for another year.


FIFA 13 is out now for £4.99 on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Get it on the FIFA 13 by EA SPORTS - Electronic Arts

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  • Matt Dunn

    “sock seduction”


  • Sam

    Thanks for the review. Not sure if I want to fork out another $7 for this game – I only got the last one about 2 months ago.
    I’m glad this web site doesn’t have smell-o-vision though. Between your lack of showers, and your sock lovin’, i’m not sure I could bear it :)

  • Shivam Choudhary


  • Oldthinker

    The multiplayer lag does unfortunately present slightly more than a visual annoyance. One issue is this:
    As a defender, you are positioned to make a well-timed slide tackle, you tap the button, and nothing happens. A split instant goes by and you tap it again. Maybe a third time for good measure. Well the “better” case outcome then is your defender finally does slide, a good half second after the attacker has whizzed by him. The worse and equally frequent outcome though is your player will auto-challenge and win the ball on his feet while ignoring you, and THEN finally realize you’ve been hitting that button that has now become “shoot”, and suddenly we’re playing K-league boom ball. Perhaps they can put some kind of “dead zone” of time between frantically tapping to win the ball and what it decides to do once you have it. The same “multi-tapping” user action doesn’t cause the same problem in single player, so I do chalk it up to the game buffering instructions during a lag so that it can execute them once the lag has passed. Problem is, by the time it’s ready to execute your instructions, they don’t apply anymore.

    On roughly the same topic. If you want to pass the ball before getting steamrollered by a defender, you have to think about 8 steps ahead in multiplayer. ;)

  • Evan

    The lack of power control over ground passes is really annoying me. Quick, intricate attacking play is now almost impossible though the game makes up for this by making the AI even more slow and passive even on world class setting. The skill moves are neat but even after 30 minutes of use already they seem to powerful.

    I’ll probably go back to fifa 12 until they fix these problems.

  • mcadena

    But can you edit formations? Jersey numbers? I hated trading for a f***ing forward and then having him get #2 when 9 10 and 11 are available…shit!

  • Christoffer Treyz

    just realized that either fifa 13 offers “cross play 1/2″ or i just don’t find the right procedure: i initially startet fifa 13 on the pad a few days ago. i earned about 7 or 9 trophies. got to level 6. now i installed the game on the new iphone which i got yesterday and only the level gets crossed over, not the ingame-achievements – despite logging on to the same account. this bothers me quite a little bit. is there really no chance to sync also the achievements?

  • Kevin

    Oooh. Sorry my friend, I’m not sure about this one. Sounds like a case for EA Mobile’s helpline…

    I thought it had full iCloud support though.

  • Kevin

    Yep, the lack of a decent ground pass is definitely the most annoying thing for me. Really hope they can sort it in an update. You can still play quick passes, just to the player next to you, which makes your attacking play less expansive.

  • Kevin

    Fear the sock!

  • Patrick

    I’ve actually gone back to playing Fifa12. There are too many subtle annoyances, like: passing between players is horrible. I know not all players will get the pass, but it seems more often than not, players from Fifa13 really struggle. I’ve also pointed the arrow to one player and it kicks the ball to another player 45 degrees to the right. Or, trying to kick the ball into the goal and the player passes the ball back, wtf!?!?
    I’m not sure if I’ve seen it, but in fifa12 when you were attacking another player that had the ball, they had an invisible shield that would push you away from them.
    Goal scoring accuracy is a bit off. Maybe its just me. My overal performance is poor in Fifa13 compared to 12. I love a good challenge and accept the fact that I do get out played (sometimes), but the competition has to be fair.The 11 man grid and your substitutions layout is horrendous. You cannot have your substitutes and your starters in the same view. You have to drag the subs menu out, drag the player onto the grid, wait for the menu to disappear before placing you player in the right position. Wait until you have to do it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
    I’ve consistently been able to score 120+ goals each season in fifa12, where now, I’m only getting about 70+ goals.I also think the menu in manager mode has been poorly designed. I have found a bug – when you search for a player in advanced search mode, sometimes when you move the criteria – say ‘league’ or ‘attribute’ from ‘any’ to something else, it doesn’t go away from ‘any’.The graphics have gotten better, a lot better. Some of the ball handling has improved. One situation that I always encountered was in F12: when you take possession of the ball near the edge of the pitch, your player would kick the ball a little bit further, which always resulting in a goal kick.
    I’m really glad there is a help file now, which was something the previous version didn’t.
    You get prompted at the end of the season about a players contract expiring, which wasn’t there before.
    Negotiating with potential new players is a bit of a pain. They seem to be more greedy than F12.
    I’m hoping EA will come out with a patch for all this. In the meantime, I’ll continue with F12. My 2 cents:-)

  • patrick

    Forgot to mention: when I tried leaving Barca to sign with another club in manager mode. I was able to only sign with a few Liga Adalente or BBVA teams and not any of the other football federations, like: Premier League, Eredivisie, Bundesliga etc.

  • Impy

    I am guessing that you have all worked out by now that you can build up a massive transfer fund warchest in manager mode by simply signing loads of free agents and then putting them straight on the transfer list? You can offer them ridiculous salaries without any pain because you will only have to pay the salary for a week before another club offers you many millions for their services. Thought that FIFA 13 would have corrected this…

  • Jourdan

    Mine won’t download! It gets to installing and then says it can’t. iTunes has only charged me $1 for it, yet it says in the App Store it costs nearly $8. Does anyone know how I can at least delete it so I can re buy it and download it?

  • Dirk

    Good game, but I’ve run into a nasty bug in Manager Mode: about halfway through a season with Stoke, after an FA Cup match with Aston Villa, the “continue” button won’t work. Guess I have to start over.

  • tem

    i forgot how to see if you managed to buy a player or not

  • Toea

    Good review on a good game ! It was exactly what I have feel when playing the first hours on FIFA13: subtle but very precious improvements. Clearly not a waste of money. I will play it during 1 year, it’s sure !
    Just want to add some personal points after two seasons in career mode, and at least 10 seasons on FIFA12 :)
    * Improvements
    – The dribble stick: as compared to FIFA12 where the dribble function was not even usable (you had to double-tap on the player (and so often move your hand from the initial position on your device…) for a random dribble (and most often see a ridiculous not relevant movement)), the dribble stick is a good idea, very useful, difficult to master as the dribbles need to be and a clever use of the iphone screen
    – The team behaviour: good idea, well implemented, a little bit difficult to use, but it prevents the player to switch between attack and defence every 2 seconds, logical for a global team behaviour: you change it when the ball is secure enough.
    – The improvement of the opponent players IA: the difference with FIFA12 is obvious: now the opponent can score goals by running into spaces left by your pressing defender or by passing the ball at the right time to the right player, making you to be careful with your defence line and use your midfields as first line of defence. I appreciate to finally see the ball in my own goal after an organic action from the IA ! And the “attack” team behaviour really help the IA to score.
    – The “call a 2nd defender” in a main button when in defence: precious change, with in increasing capability of the IA, you’ll need it !
    – The game engine: very close to the very good previous one, the improvements are appreciable: movements are more natural and due to the increasing IA, the opponent players have lost the overpowered capability in ball protection they had in FIFA12. It’s a little bit more beautiful, there is less freeze when light and particles are on screen (rain, snow), more players are modeled, sometimes very well (Gouffran in Bordeaux is incredibly done ! :) )

    * Things I was hoping it would change:
    – The interface & managing screen: Not a bad interface, beautiful, often useful, but a lot of missing things which seem to be so easy to add :
    Why there is not a top scorers screen for the selected competition ? You have one for each team ! It is just a line to sum all the teams !!
    Why you cannot see the nationality of your players ? They have one: they can be selected in national teams ! So put in on their bio ! You buy players, you have to try to guess their nationality with their names and faces…
    Why it is not possible to reach all the characteristics of a player ? for example: If its a defender, you have only defending information, so when you want to buy a winger, you don’t have any information on his velocity !
    – Club budget: No TV incomes, no Champions League incomes… so it is very hard to increase the budget, even when you win, so you need to use non-logical tricks: make all the good free players come in your team and then directly sell them…
    or buy some budget with real $/€ !

    * small bothering details:
    – well, the “shoot” button become the “sliding tackle” when you loose the ball, making you to kill the opponent player from behind when you only want to clear your line but you just loose the ball between the time you ask to your finger to press the button and the time your skin hit the screen… red card and penalty too often… in the FIFA12, you needed to slide up to activate the sliding tackle, preventing this problem
    – The “small but precise shoot” is now only available from the inside of the penalty area, and the “on ground centre pass” only from the outside… The command are more simple, but sometimes not as complete as they was in FIFA12. However, it is not a big deal.

  • frustrated

    i am so thoroughly disappointed with this game for the iphone/ipad that it hurts-literally.
    OK pet peave no.1
    the touch screen passing: nothing frustrates me more than when I have made player go on a run and then retap to pass to target and the damn player just sits there with his hand on his?@&!$ and does nothing. why a feature if if never works the way it actually works in real soccer. Stupid

    2. The slide tackle is same as shoot. given away how many reds trying to clear when in reality function is on slide and takes down an innocent player.
    3. The so called finesse shots and ground crosses. they don’t work when you really need them.
    4. the horrible difference in levels. beginner and amateur are OK but semi pro- plays like World class, professional like a semi- pro and world class like Professional. Its ridiculous. I was able to put one or two past a keeper in world class and professional but can never in semi- pro. the CPU has way too much advantage over you with passing schemes and dribbling. In CPU one player can hammer through 3-4 players trying to tackle him
    but when you do the same you might be lucky to hammer through 1.
    5. the inability to pass while on the sprint. The CPU can do it but there is like a three second lag for the user. in a real soccer game players can make passes on the sprint. I am on a run and try a through pass but wait….. no pass. I have to press it twice and then the stupid recieving player passes the ball when I want him to run with it

  • aLex

    pasword fifa 13 for iphone 4s ??

  • Malik Conn

    I have the same exact probs. Thanks for pointing that out for all of us!

  • storeservice6

    Love meicy!Amazing football player!

    beats by dre solo, beats by dre solo hd & beats by dre solo

  • Jenkinson

    I have a problem is that my new signed player could just only pick a number in random,that is terrible!Can’t imagine a goalkeeper wearing a #9 jersey in goal-keeping,just like a freaking jokes..Can anyone tell me how to change the numbers?I’m using iPod playing FIFA 13

  • Ajax4life

    I don’t really agree with you… You really need to get used to everything, just like you had to with Fifa 12. And if you’re really struggling that much with Fifa 13, you should start off at a lower level, like Amateur or Semi-pro getting used to the controls and everything. Fifa 13 is so much more fun with Ultimate Team and playing online!
    The manager mode was kind of annoying in the beginning indeed, but you just need to get used to it, and accept it the way it is. That bug you’re talking about happened to me too, but it also doesn’t happen that often. you’re being really pessimistic…

  • fifasucks

    Its a fucking piece of shit for ultimate team, I can fucking beat teams on World Class difficulty 2-0 but when the difficulty goes down to Semi-Pro I fucking tie 3-3 because of stupid mistakes that the players make. The developers should be fucking fired because all they care about is fucking money.

  • Minh

    How to transfer players ?

  • Fardeen

    I totally agree with u that’s the same thing which I’m annoyed of. I purchased a striker wearing no 2 jersey n now my goalie is wearing no. 7 jersey ??? This is ridiculous it automatically shuffles itself. What the hell is this ? This is total waste of money. Very disappointed :(

  • michael

    i give game in Kuaiyong free for my iphone 5

    oh no jillbreak and free game

  • Soccerstar789

    How do you transfers players for just quick matches?