FIFA 14 (iOS|Android) is this year's upgrade to what I think is the best sports game on iOS devices, and this latest version does not disappoint. Now with even more licensed teams, more leagues, more players, and refined controls, this game just seems to keep getting better.
Having played many of the previous versions of the franchise on consoles and all of the various soccer games on mobile, the FIFA franchise continues to be the best soccer game on iOS, adding even more content than last year's installment, with 600 fully licensed teams to play, over 16,000 players, 33 leagues, and 34 different stadiums. You can play as your favorite teams, pass to your favorite players with realistic attributes, and use an improved skill move system to get free and go for the goal.
Better than the last and freemium?
There are more and more games switching over to a freemium model, and as I pointed out in my Where's My Water 2 review, it's often not a good thing. When a game prevents you from playing with wait times, it takes away from the whole experience and can make the game almost unplayable. Fortunately, FIFA (and EA) didn't go in this direction.
This is the first time that a FIFA game has gone free to play, letting you play online matchmaking, penalty shootouts, and Ultimate Team mode to your heart's content if you don't want to pay. But where there are definitely freemium models that annoy and let you pay to be the best, with FIFA 14, the pay wall is pretty straightforward. You can either play the three game modes for free or pay $4.99 to unlock Tournaments, Manager Mode, and Kick Off, the single-game exhibition mode. FIFA 13 (last year's version) is currently $6.99, so I definitely recommend paying the $4.99 for the full experience of FIFA 14. There is one catch, however. While the app is iOS universal, you'll need to spend $4.99 for each of your devices. So if you pay to unlock the game modes on your iPad, you'll still need to pay again to unlock them on your iPhone, which is pretty annoying.
The best soccer on iOS
What you get for your cash is an excellent "football" game. FIFA 14, like its predecessor, has beautiful graphics with high frame rates, crowds that cheer you on with chants and soccer songs, and excellent animations and physics as you work your way to the goal. It's also got tons of customization, letting you tweak the controls, change camera views, and adjust just about every setting within the game itself. Play long or short matches, toggle offsides calls and injuries, and choose from five difficulty levels.