As many will now be aware, FIFA 14 was released in the US last night as a "free-to-play" app. I downloaded and have logged a little playtime, enough to get a feel for what the game has to offer, and what it lacks unless you buy the IAP upgrade. Oh yeah, quick detour. To cut off the "OMG, IAP!!!" comments, note that this is not a typical freemium "paywall" type of game (well, ultimate team mode might be, but that's not new to FIFA 14). The most important IAP is a one-time unlock of some of the games' play modes. More on that later. The first time you start up, it jumps straight into a tutorial (except that I believe it prompted me to download latest rosters first). Go with the defaults listed, or pick any league, any club, and the computer will match you up with an appropriate opponent. I chose Chelsea, and was the home side v. Arsenal, if I remember correctly. The AI difficulty on the tutorial is "easy", which is just as well, what with getting used to the new gesture-based controls. The game prompts you to use certain gestures to get used to how to move, pass, shoot, and defend with them. I won 1-0, and really had no defensive worries at all, but controlling the offense will take some getting used to. The basics of the gestures on offense are tap to pass (either directly to a teammate, or to a spot on the field), press and hold a player and then drag to direct where they go (otherwise, they move according to their AI), and swipe to shoot. This will take some getting used to. My passing worked fine, on the whole, though I still need to figure out how to vary the pace of a pass; most of my passes were fairly weak and slow, compared to what I'm used to from FIFA 13. I also have a tendency to want to swipe to pass, which frequently resulted in premature shots or booming the ball out of play. Controlling swipe speed is also critical to shooting - faster and longer swipes generate more power at the cost of accuracy. On defense, you can tap to switch defenders or let the automatic switching take over. Double-tap an opponent to press him, swipe to slide tackle. I haven't had to use any goalie controls yet - the one shot I've actually faced in four games was off a free kick and the wall blocked it (swipe up). If you don't like the new gestures, the virtual joystick and keypad is available as an option. I also played penalty shootout mode, which is about as identical to FIFA 13 as possible, with the exception that they've removed the timing gauge for keepers and the shape of your swipe seems to have more control on movement than before. I entered ultimate team mode briefly. This starts with a pair of practice games, and then presumably gives you your starting cards (with a squad much less advanced than the practice ones, I'm sure). I was off network at the time, so it couldn't make the transaction to actually give me the cards. Of course, this is where the real onerous IAP is going to be, in buying card packs and the like. But this appears to be much the same as FIFA 13, and is, in theory, supposed to work across platforms. I played one match in "Games of the Week", which appears to take six real matches from different parts of the world for the upcoming weekend (though I did get one listed as Oct 19) and let you play against the AI as either team in the matchup. My Chelsea side cruised to an easy 2-0 win vs. Cardiff City. Again, we're still on "easy" mode, though. The free features also includes online multiplayer. I haven't tried it out yet. No real comments on sounds or commentary quality yet. Note that the download does not include commentary by default. You can download specific-language commentary within the app (for free), but be aware of this if you have data caps to worry about. I didn't pre-load anything, and am off network, so no commentary for me until I get back to WiFi. So, what's missing from the free features? Well, unlike Madden 25, you don't have to level up or earn (or buy) coins to unlock plays in a playbook, or skills, or upgrades, etc. The upgrade IAP simply unlocks 3 game modes as a one-time purchase: 1) Quick match vs. AI 2) Manager ("career") mode 3) Tournament mode All three modes are unlocked as a group. The IAP price is $4.99 (US), but I expect EA to occasionally discount it, as they have somewhat frequent sales. Now, manager mode is my favorite way to play, ever since I started the series with FIFA 12. So FIFA 14 won't feel like a "complete" game to me without it. But is it a fully-functional game as a freebie? Yes, it's quite playable, if a bit limited in the variety it offers against the AI. If you don't want to choose specific sides against the AI or play in manager mode, you'll never need the expansion.