Staying on top in football is difficult to do, as Chelsea's embarrassingly early exit from the Champions League shows. However, it's something that EA's FiFa games have managed to pull off time and again over the last few years. With FIFA 13 on iOS we can’t see that situation changing anytime soon either, because this is undoubtedly the best FiFa game yet.
FIFA 13 certainly isn’t found wanting when it comes to licensing, as it has 500 fully licensed teams that include 15,000 players across 30 worldwide leagues, so unless you really do support a no hoper in a very minor league, the chances are that your team is represented here.
The play mechanics are, as you'd expect, pretty similar to previous versions of the game. A virtual joystick on the left controls the movements and direction of your player, while on the right there are buttons for stuff like passing, shooting and sprinting. What's new is a skill move button that you touch and slide off in different directions to pull off special moves, tricks and shimmies. It works well and while initially you'll use it for one trick at a time, after you've mastered it you'll discover that you can tie moves together by sliding it in multiple directions.
There are now four play modes, including Quickmatch, Ultimate Team, Career Mode and Online. In Career Mode EA has added a Tournament mode for when you want something more than a quick game, but don’t want to commit to the full Manager Mode. It's the Online mode, though, that's obviously the biggest addition. You can either challenge friends or team up with other players via your iPhone, Gmail or Facebook contacts. The interface is nicely designed and connections between you and other players seem to be quite solid. You also get five pauses for each game, which allows you to just go and answer the door or alternatively make subs or tactical changes.
The graphics are top notch with reasonably smooth animations and pretty detailed looking players. The sound and commentary are also strong and the overall presentation is top class.
FIFA 12 was already a top notch football game on iOS, but the addition of the new skill move button and, especially, online play push FIFA 13 into a new league. This is not just a top notch football game, it's also perhaps the best sports game you can get for your iPhone or iPad.