There are some things you can rely on 100 per cent. The jammy bit in a jam doughnut will always be at the other end of the bit you bite into first. The queue you're not in will be the fastest. And EA will release a new version of FIFA a month or two after the footy season has started.
However, previously, there were no guarantees that the iPhone and iPad versions of the latest edition in the franchise would be anything like their modern day console chums. In fact, they were positively cut down in many ways, being but mere pale counterparts.
Not so with FIFA 12, though, it offers unique features that aren't even possible with an Xbox 360 or PS3. Finally, the true iOS football game has arrived...
- iPad / iPhone / iPod touch
- £5.99 / £3.99
- iTunes (iPad) / iTunes (iPhone / iPod touch)
There's a commonly held misconception that iPad 1 or 2 or iPhone games need to compete with their living room console equivalents. They don't. They just need to be good games, and use the iOS devices' capabilities to their benefit. And while the graphics sets might be less detailed or defined, there's a number of unique properties that only these devices (or Android/Windows Phone 7 and the like) can provide.
For starters, there's a touch screen. You don't get that with an Xbox 360 or PS3, and although we're not the biggest fans of virtual, on-screen direction pads, there's more you can do with a game than try to emulate other versions.
Take FIFA 12 on the iPad, for example, with its new control system. While it may include a virtual direction control and buttons for shooting, passing, etc, it also offers some swipe controls, double taps, and player selection by just touching them. And free kicks are now taken in a sort of Flick Kick Football fashion; you swipe through the ball to send it in the direction you wish from a 3D rear view.
And, more uniquely still, you can even use an iPhone to play the game on an iPad, as we tried and tested during our recent hands-on at EA Mobile's headquarters.
So, from the off, FIFA 12 iPad and iPhone is different to its console and PC brethren, although some similarities are very welcome.
The new menu screen is much like the one found on the Xbox 360 (although, with this one you can swipe left and right to scroll through the options). There's no practice arena - just a pic of Wayne Rooney - but you still get menu headers along the bottom.
And there's now a career mode, albeit a cut down called "Manager Mode". It allows you to take control of any team in one of 22 different leagues around the globe, buy and sell players, set the tactics you want and generally, well, manage. There's promotion and relegation, and cups, European and domestic, are included, as are board expectations. And there's an in-game email system for alerts. It's basic but a great addition to iOS.
The graphic engine has also been given a lick of paint, with an emphasis on better animation and 32 authentic stadiums. Plus, instant replays have been introduced, giving much more of a televisual feel to the game.
The only strange aspect to this year's addition is that rather than adopt the new commentary team for the console versions - Martin Tyler and Alan Smith - you still get Clive Tyldsley and Andy Townsend. Of course, if you go back as far as us, you'd be grateful that a footy game that costs a mere £3.99 for the iPhone, £5.99 for the iPad version has commentary at all.
Even without, FIFA 12 would still offer an incredible game of football.
What do you think of FIFA 12 on iOS devices? Let us know in the comments below...