It is that time again. The time of endless excuses, and endless replays of mistakes. The time of crying adult men with flags painted across their faces. The time of shattered dreams, too much drink and definitely too much emotion. I am not talking about the elections in Great Britain, but rather about the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
I remember the summer of 1994 when Sweden miraculously snagged a bronze medal in the World Cup in USA. I remember screaming out my joy across the woods of my family’s summer house. From that point on the World Cup changed in Sweden. Instead of being something to look forward to as a happy time of kicking the skin it turned into immense pressure. We had to be better than 1994, or at least as good. If you have been following footie for the last years you know that Sweden has suffered. We, just as England, have quite a good squad of players but the results have been poor. For me the best thing about the World Cup nowadays is the official game that usually shows up a couple of months before the event. Thankfully I get to lead my dear Sweden to virtual glory. And that is definitely a good thing since we didn’t even qualify. This might actually mean that I might be able to follow the World Cup this year for fun.
FIFA World Cup takes the recently released FIFA 10, and polishes it a bit further. You get 105 international teams letting you play as for example Sweden or other crap countries that didn’t make it. You can play the World Cup, and captain your team all the way. The content is all focused on the World Cup, and there are no club teams at all. This is definitely a game for those interested in the National teams only. To me this has always been a bit strange having a special World Cup game, but Electronic Arts has had this release schedule since the mid 90s if I am not mistaken. The good thing about the World Cup aspect is that you get all the best players in one tournament. The bad thing is that the game feels old from the second the whistle for the end of the final sounds.
The touch controls in FIFA World Cup are spot on, and it feels like I am back in the early days of FIFA games when gameplay was more important than doing tricks. Perhaps this is the result of the limited amount of soccer games for the iPhone all focus on playability. For consoles the focus has been including more and more cool tricks, and FIFA has been battling hard against PES. In this iPhone game you get a virtual controls stick that shows up wherever you touch on the left side of the screen. For offence you get three buttons: shoot, pass and skill. The skill button lets you do some cool moves. For defense you get two buttons: slide and tackle. Instead of adding extra buttons or gestures Electronic Arts uses taps to control the power, and input of the different buttons. This helps in creating an easy to use control method that works extremely well. When in possession of the ball you can see a marker showing which player you will pass. At times arrows show up helping you to make some great cross passes to set up a great attack.
The presentation is top notch with great player animations. I have played this both on an iPhone 3GS, and an iPad at doubled size. It of course looks better on the small screen that it is meant for, but it is definitely not bad on the iPad. The crap looking spectators should have been scrapped, as they look the same. 10 men or women looking about the same, with the same expression makes them feel more like a fascist army than a happy crowd.
There is some wickedly good commentary recorded for the game, and the timing is generally really good. The music supplied is basically menu music, but you can play your own music from the in game iPod library. The crowd sounds wild, and the odd bounce of a post sounds realistic. Overall the production values are great.
If you feel ready to take your soccer skills to the test there are both local Bluetooth multiplayer, and online Wi-Fi multiplayer. You can play both matches, and penalty shootouts. I have not been able to try any of these modes, as I haven’t found anyone to play. I would appreciate feedback from users who have tried the multiplayer.
I had hoped that Electronic Arts would start releasing their games as unibinary being able to look as great on the iPad as on the iPhone. I enjoy playing this on the large screen better, but I found myself playing it more on the iPhone as I always have it with me. The controls work a bit better on the iPhone as well.
If you are looking for the best soccer game this summer definitely check out FIFA World Cup. The touch controls are great, with players behaving, as you want them to. If you already have FIFA 10 this game is only interesting if you are a World Cup fan. And playing in Country Mode Sweden can finally take that Gold we really would have taken if Zlatan Ibrahimovic hadn’t been injured or the referee wasn’t lackluster or if the field had been less bouncy…
To see the game in motion on an iPad take a look at Nigel’s hands-on video.
FIFA World Cup $6.99
Seller: Electronic Arts