EA Sports FIFA World Review: Some Of The Soccer, None Of The Price

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Platforms: PC

Developer: EA Sports

Publisher: EA

Lest anyone think that video game companies only turn to free-to-play to drum up interest in sagging franchises, allow me to present EA Sports FIFA World. Despite the fact that FIFA is essentially the best-selling sports game series in the world, EA still saw a way to get more people playing it.

Of course you don’t get the keys to the entire footballing kingdom for free. But as long as you’ve got EA’s Origin client on your PC, you can download FIFA World free of charge and jump into two different game modes.

The big one is Ultimate Team, which by now has become a staple of all EA Sports games. As always, the object is to build the best possible team, taking into account not only raw talent but also the chemistry formed by using players from the same nation or club and placing them in their desired formations. New players come in packs of cards that also contain consumables like contract and training cards, as well as kits, badges and stadiums with which to customize your squad.

Packs are purchased using coins won on the pitch, and Ultimate Team provides a pretty nice mix of single-player seasons (complete with relegation and promotion) and tournaments. Online seasons against other human opponents are also offered, and one imagines that online tournaments are probably in the works as well.

Your other option is the League Teams mode, which allows you to compete in online seasons with real world clubs. Each match played uses up one credit of the five you get to start, with one credit regenerating every few hours. You can spend coins from Ultimate Team to purchase more match credits and win coins in League Teams to use in Ultimate Team, so there’s some synergy between the two modes.

As you might expect, the actual on-field product isn’t quite up to the standard set by FIFA 14, either visually or in terms of gameplay. The action feels a bit slow, and you won’t have the mind-numbing variety of offensive moves to use (or remember, which is the good part). FIFA World still plays decently enough, and the tougher difficulty settings will certainly make you earn your goals. Controls aren’t horrible, and you have three different schemes from which to choose: keyboard and mouse, keyboard only or gamepad. The graphics are also a notch below what you’d see in the regular game but still have enough detail in player faces that all of the stars are recognizable, and the tremendous variety of clubs and kits that you’d expect from the brand remains intact.

In terms of monetization, EA no doubt hopes you’ll spend some dough on FIFA Points, which can be spent in either mode. Yet that aspect of the game feels remarkably restrained considering who made it, as you can grind your way to some decent cards pretty quickly in Ultimate Team. You also level up regularly and are always working toward completing accomplishments (think achievements), giving you extra coins and packs every so often.

Perhaps best of all, FIFA World is still technically in beta, and even though that designation is often a silly one for F2P titles, it implies that the developers are going to keep working on new features and improvements. If you’re a hardcore soccer addict, you’re still going to want FIFA 14 for your PC or console, but this is an interesting alternative if you’re short on money or simply live and breathe Ultimate Team.

Verdict:

+ Serves up some FIFA flavor for free

+ Feels easier to advance through Ultimate Team

+ Monetization is pleasantly restrained

– Graphics and gameplay a notch below the regular FIFA game

– Controls are only so-so