The World Cup is only a few weeks away, and, naturally, there has been a whole crop of World Cup related iPhone apps pop up in the app store in recent months looking to cash in on football fever. FIFA World Cup, from Electronic Arts, is the “official” iPhone game and adds a South African theme and some game enhancements to an otherwise similar offering to FIFA 10.

FIFA World Cup features 105 national teams from around the world, with a lot of teams making an appearance that didn’t qualify for the Cup – so you’ll be able to play as your home country, even if you’re from Fiji.

The game has 6 main game modes:

  • Kick Off
  • FIFA World Cup
  • Penalty Shoot-out
  • Captain Your Country
  • Multiplayer
  • Training

Kick off is essentially a scratch-match and allows you to square off against a team of your choosing at any one of the 10 stadiums that will actually be used in South Africa. In World Cup mode, as you’d expect, you choose your team and then play through either the qualification rounds or the finals on your way to the golden trophy.

Captain Your Country is a unique game mode and allows you to create a custom player, choose your position on the field and compete in the World Cup from the group stages through to the finals. Unlike the other game modes, you only control the one player – not the whole team. Rather than physical control, you get leadership, and can call for a pass or tell a fellow player to shoot for goal. There are some options for team management available to you pre-game, and you can adjust your formations as well as your players – but the real impact on gameplay is pretty minimal.

One of my biggest gripes with the game is the control system. The A and B two-button system from previous FIFA games has been replaced with new situation dependent buttons – slide and tackle on defense, pass, skill and shoot on offense. Between the buttons and “joystick” – the control elements end up taking over half the screen.

That said, once you get the hang of the game – it is a lot of fun. The running commentary of your play is great, the music is solid, and the game itself runs smoothly – even on my ancient first gen iPhone.

Bottom Line: A bit pricey at $6.99, but a solid buy for soccer fans that don’t own FIFA 2010.  7/10