FIFA Football is one of the highest profile third party titles to launch alongside the PlayStation Vita this month. It’s also one of the most impressive launch games, bringing the series we all know and love onto the small screen, with little compromise and some added innovation. There is no doubt that football fans are going to love this game and with good reason.
Anyone who has played FIFA on console will know the lengths that EA go to in order to provide a realistic and authentic experience and upon loading up FIFA Football, you get that same sense of dedication. The menus are filled with options, be it the ability to play an Exhibition mode, start a tournament or hit Virtual Pro for a quick match as a player or goalkeeper. Also present is the now familiar practice arena and a whole load of editing options; allowing you to customise your experience and your Pro in any way you wish.
For the more in-depth experience FIFA on the Vita also includes Career Mode, allowing you to play as a manager, player or player manager. Having spent a lot of time with the PS3 version FIFA 12, I can say happily that this experience is replicated perfectly on the Vita. All of the options present in the console version are here, allowing you to play in a variety of matches and watch as your reputation rises or falls. The load times are also kept to a minimum, making the whole experience that much more impressive. It would be great to have the ability to continue a career you have started on PS3 on the Vita and vice versa. Especially given that the options almost identical, we see no reason why this couldn’t happen in the future; should EA decide to allow it.
Of course, EA has also provided a wide range of online options too, meaning you can head online, taking on friends and the world, while improving your rank at the same time. Online options include normal Head to Head matches, match lobbies and friends leagues. The latter is a particularly impressive option, allowing you to create or join an online league with up to 32 players, customising it in anyway you wish to suit your and your friends needs.
Another impressive aspect of FIFA Football, before you even begin to contemplate taking part in an actual match, is the beautifully designed arenas. This gives you the first glimpse of how FIFA Football looks in motion, while also giving you the perfect chance to practice and hone your skills, which is particularly important if you are going to be using the new touch controls (we’ll get to them in a minute). The practice arena is no different from the console versions: allowing you to just practice your shooting against a lone goalkeeper or if you wish, giving you the ability to take part in practice matches, practice free kicks, penalties or other set pieces.
The main thing to say about the menus and practice arena is that they replicate the console experience almost perfectly. There are a few options missing, such as Ultimate Team, however overall FIFA Football gives the impression of being the complete package and is presented in a very impressive way.
For all the impressive presentation, anyone knows that its what happens on the pitch that counts and in this respect, FIFA on Vita is a revelation. Starting up a match you are confronted by very high quality visuals, which give a taste of what’s to come. The opening ceremony, Sky Sports like presentation, atmosphere and commentary seen and heard in the console versions is captured perfectly here. Player likenesses are also impressive, as are the stadiums which again seem to represent the real life counterparts fairly accurately.
It’s when you get onto the pitch that you really notice the quality. FIFA 12′s precision dribbling and tactical defending is not replicated on the PS Vita version, however you are still given good control over your players, making for what is generally a tight match. Passing is crisp and players run intelligently into space, allowing for some impressive plays, while defenders close down space, not leaving room for attackers to get even the slightest glimpse at goal. It’s just like playing FIFA on console, which is the biggest compliment you can give the game really.
There is one big difference in FIFA Football, touch controls. Using the touchscreen you can pass between players, selecting who you wish to pass to with a simple press on the screen. You can also pass into space in this way, while holding a finger down on the screen will make for a quick clearance. It has to be said that this option was rarely used when playing, basically because it made more sense to use the buttons. Football is a fast paced, quick decision based game, so putting your finger over the screen simply does not work.
The use of the rear touchpad for shooting however, is genius. Think of the rear touchpad as the goal. To shoot you simply select your spot on the touchpad while in the third half of the field; the longer you hold your finger on the pad, the harder you’ll shoot. The game also provides you with a target, showing you where your shot is heading to, and once you strike, where it ends up. Rear touchpad shooting is a fantastic addition, and where using the frontscreen touch adds nothing, this option enhances the game, adding a new fun aspect to it. The touch controls are entirely optional and disabling them doesn’t tone down the experience at all. Playing with normal controls feels as great as ever, especially when playing against an online opponent. It just depends which way you prefer to play.
Without a doubt, FIFA football on Vita offers the best portable experience of the series to date. It replicates the console versions perfectly, providing wonderful presentation and best of all, a fantastic gamplay experience. The additional touch controls may not be for everyone, however they are entirely optional, meaning they are more of an added bonus if nothing else. FIFA Football is a AAA experience in your hands, a must have launch title for any football fan.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order a copy of FIFA Football for Vita here.