It’s a sign of the growing importance of game for mobile devices that both of the big soccer games are now available in a form very close to their big console cousins.
The mobile version of FIFA, however has disappointed me, not seeming as big a jump forward as the console versions have been in the last couple of years, seemingly stuck in the realms of basically working, but not ever making you forget that you are playing on a touchscreen.
Can it’s greatest rival, PES 2011 find a way of making soccer games truly work on a touchscreen device? The answer is yes, it can. In brilliant style.
The developer has achieved almost perfect control, and in this kind of game, control is king. They have done this in several ways. First of all, the players are not limited to eight way movement, they can go in any direction. They also have brilliant animation that is added to the fact that they respond instantly to input with the end result being players that feel under your control at all times.
The overlaid controls are great, and work far better than something like Real Football. Passes feel tight and quick, with long balls feeling especially good, meaning that you can spray the ball all over the pitch, and you can’t just give it to a player and run at the defence, as defenders close down aggressively and will work as a team to force you down blind alleys.
Through balls are handled extremely well, as with most games on mobile, they only work going towards the goal, but here you can put through balls anywhere. Slotting them anywhere on the pitch adds such fluidity and scope to the play that, whenever you do score, it really feels as if you have earned it.
Shooting is good, and you will have to learn to time your shots well, as the keepers are very difficult to beat, even on the easier settings. Penalties are done brilliantly, as you simply swipe your finger in the direction you want to fire, and actually makes very good use of the touchscreen.
Less impressive is the defending, which feels a little too automatic, and there are no options for setting whether the game auto selects players are not. It;s a shame, as the rest of the game plays so well.
There is a decent selection of game modes, from the expected quick game and exhibition to the ability to play through the champions league and europa league, and also some domestic leagues and cups. A training mode rounds things off, but what is really missing here is the ability to put all these league and cups together and just play a season.
There are a wealth of options, such as the excellent replay feature, many camera settings and the ability to tweak your teams line up and formation to your hearts content. Many will complain about the fact that there are only a few of the real player names and team names on offer, but it’s not really important in the scheme of things. Three different control options are offered, but I recommend using the default option.
What is important is the total lack of multiplayer in this Android release. A genuine opportunity to cement the series in the eyes of Android fans is missed, hopefully this will be added in next years release.
The graphics are great, with the animation in particular looking great, and it’s all pretty smooth, with only a hint of slowdown at busy times. Sound is ok, but doesn’t have a commentator, no doubt to reduce the file size of the game.
Overall, this is a fantastic football game that gets the most important aspect, gameplay, spot on. A smooth, natural feeling game, that, while missing a few options, more than makes up for it with raw style. Fabulous.