Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Playstation Vita
Release Date: 22/02/2012
Price: $34.98 (Available Here)
For a while, the portable FIFA games have been lacking a sparkle compared to the console (and, more recently, PC) versions. That is until the release of FIFA Football for the Playstation Vita. The console gameplay finally hits a portable, with most of the gameplay features, modes, visuals and audio present. With that in mind, this is surely going to score a hat-trick. But, will certain elements, such as a lack of the more recent gameplay additions, lack of a few console game modes and the touch screen controls, have the referee pulling out the red card from his back pocket?
FIFA Football goes back to the FIFA 11 game engine rather than the recent FIFA 12 game engine. All of the gameplay features that were introduced in FIFA 12, like Tactical Defending, will be absent in FIFA Football. However, their absence does not deter gameplay. This iteration of the football franchise is meant to bring the console experience to the portable front and it achieves that goal. Sure, defending might be more pressing than what has been experienced in FIFA 12 and it does lack precision dribbling, but, compared to the previous Playstation Portable entries, your footballing mind is required more than ever. The controls are basically the same, save for a few advanced controls. The chip kick, for example, requires the player to hold press circle plus the left shoulder button plus the right shoulder button to compensate for a lack of a second shoulder button.
So, since it has been established that the Vita version is inspired by the console versions, the game modes of said versions should make an appearance in the Vita version. For the most part, they do. Virtual Pro makes a seamless transition onto the portable platform. Here, players create themselves as a player of any club in any position, including goalkeeper. Expect plenty of customisation options, but also expect some of them to be locked, including boots and the more colourful hairstyles. Just like FIFA on the consoles, your created player can improve in any game mode as well as the arena. Career Mode also makes an appearance. Here, you can play as a player, manager or a player manager. Don’t expect the FIFA 12 Career Mode, though. Just like the gameplay, it is akin to the FIFA 11 version. This means no youth development and no frantic transfer deadline day. Tournament mode, exhibition and online modes are also present, but there is no Ultimate Team mode, which will disappoint some fans.
Of course, what Vita game wouldn’t be complete without touch controls. Both the front and rear touch controls are used to control different aspects of the game. The front touch screen mainly focuses on passing and selecting players when you are on the defence. For passing, power is controlled by the length of the touch. The rear touch pad is used for shooting. Visualise the touch pad as the goal. All one has to do is touch the pad in their area of choice, leave their finger on the pad to build up power and the shot will be taken. Of course, power, the type of shot and players around the attacker will affect where the shot will end up. Both touch controls can be used for penalties, corners and free kicks as well. These are optional and I would suggest turning them off if you want to play the classical way. I will say that the touch controls are a mixed bag. Shooting via the rear touch pad works very well, too well in fact. It makes the game easier to an extent. Front touch controls are only useful for simple passes, so don’t expect to play a one-two with these controls.
In terms of leagues and teams, they are lifted from FIFA 12, which means the Turkish SuperLig will be absent. However, just like FIFA 12, there will be one team representing Turkey at club level: Galatasaray. Leagues such as the Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 will be fully licensed due to the agreement made with EA. So there will be no new leagues or national teams for the Vita version. Still, there is a variety of teams, over 100 of them, so you are spoiled for choice. Each and every one of them will be available at the start of Career Mode, so you can start off my being the first choice striker at Manchester United or start your manager career at Borussia Dortmund. I have always applauded the amount of teams available in the FIFA games. This is the reason why I have taken an interest in football outside of Europe.
Visuals and Audio
The visuals are impressive for a handheld game. They emulate those present in the console versions, including detailed character models and player animations. The presentation of the game also takes a leaf out of the book of the console version. The menus are easy to navigate and are familiar to veteran FIFA current-gen players. This extends to the team management, career mode and even the games themselves. The players will come out of the tunnels and shake hands, something not seen on the portable devices. Most of the kits are licensed and look superb.
The soundtrack only offers a handful of tracks. Compared to the 20-30 tracks in the console versions, this is pretty disappointing. However, if the tracks are not to your liking, then you can always listen to your own tracks via the Music application of the Playstation Vita. Just turn down the in-game music volume or unselect the tracks. One thing you do want to hear is the crowds and the commentary of Marin Tyler and Alan Smith. The commentary team is great, emulating their performance from the console versions. The crowds also create the atmosphere of a football game.
FIFA Football is what every FIFA fan wants on the go. Gameplay that feels familiar, despite not adding in more recent additions to the mechanics, with hundreds of licensed teams to choose from. Virtual Pro and other game modes make a seamless entry into the portable realm, as well as online matches. The visuals take inspiration from the console, backed up by excellent commentary and an accurate atmosphere created by the crowds. With that said, some fans will be disappointed with the lack of Ultimate Team. The touch controls are a mixed bag. Front touch is too distracting but rear touch is excellent. Football fans rejoice, as the portable space has its greatest FIFA game yet.