FIFA Football Review
Game: FIFA Football
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: PlayStation Vita only
With Sony’s fantastic new handheld gaming device showcasing some incredible visuals, and with gameplay to match, it was only a matter of time before a sports game was released; and what better title to go first than one of the biggest selling games of the year. With FIFA Football, EA are hoping to replicate their success in sales with the PlayStation Vita, but does it achieve greatness, or fall to mediocrity?
GRAPHICS: Despite the PS Vita being a young console, it has become expected that the games look fantastic. FIFA Football joins the ever-growing stable of gorgeous games on the device, looking as close as possible to the big brother FIFA titles on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It’s possible that some users may find the text a little small, as FIFA Football really does look like EA have taken the home console version of FIFA and scaled it to the Vita’s 5-inch OLED screen.
There appears to be no slowdown present at all, and the only real negative in regards to the visuals is that moving around in the team management menus is agonisingly slow when swapping players around, with each button press feeling unresponsive. Otherwise, top marks for the visual effort.
AUDIO: Likewise, when it comes to the audio, FIFA Football is stellar. Full commentary is present with Alan Smith and Martin Tyler, as well as Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend for the cup matches and tournaments. The soundtrack is fit to burst too, with plenty of licensed music adding to menu operations. The supporters will make themselves heard too, and it all scales nicely to the smaller speakers on the PS Vita.
GAMEPLAY: Here is where it gets a bit messy. Sadly, FIFA Football is not FIFA 12 on a handheld console. Whether this is a good, or bad thing depends hugely on your tastes. The tactical defending that was introduced to FIFA 12 is completely gone, replaced with the FIFA 11 style of holding the pressure button to tackle. Perversely, this caused me to realise I had become a better player, as I was able to play on a higher difficulty with the older method of defending.
So, with that out of the way, we’re left with a fully featured FIFA title including most of the things you’d find in the more recent games. Career mode, including player-manager option is present, but it’s the FIFA 11 career mode for the most part. Be a Pro returns, with Goalkeeper yet again an option. Online play is there too, with all the player hub – address book, career stats, etc – all present and correct. Even the Virtual Pro is back, with the accomplishments you’d expect to find accompanying it too.
Touch controls are also included, and are sure to divide players hugely. The front screen is mostly dedicated to passing. Simply touch the player (or area) you want to pass to, and the longer you hold it down the more venomous the pass will be. Equally you can take free kicks and penalties with the front touch, which is actually a nice feature. Again, holding a finger down increases the power, but the ball will aim where you are touching. Rear touch is used for shooting too. Using the Be a Pro camera angles you are told to think of the rear touch pad as the goal, touch it and it’ll aim for there within the goal mouth. As you’d expect, with the Goalkeeper, you simply touch where you want to dive, to save.
None of this is without issue though. The incredibly responsive nature of the touch screens on the PlayStation Vita actually work against the device here. After a few through-ball attempts that caused the ball to suddenly veer in the opposite direction at pace, it dawned on me that I was ever so slightly encroaching onto the touch screen on the left side, where the left analogue stick is positioned. Because I was running to the right whilst attempting to play the through ball pass, my over-zealous hands were slipping onto the screen and cancelling my pass, instead passing wildly back to the left. Similar things happened with the rear touch.
Most of this might be completely irrelevant to someone with smaller hands, but nonetheless, it did happen. EA are wise though and have included the ability to turn the touch screen and/or the rear touch off completely. The simple truth is that most users will probably keep the touch controls on until they have unlocked the trophies for them (and there are quite a few) then turn them off and play FIFA as they always have done. Overall, FIFA Football plays a nice game of football. The touch controls work well for the most part and the game is the FIFA we all know and love.
LONGEVITY: As with any sports title, what you really need to be asking yourself is: How long is a piece of string? The career mode alone will last you a ridiculous amount of time, with the online modes, which work as well as you’d hope for, providing a distraction for some, or a pastime for others. One thing is for sure, playing FIFA on a handheld device, be it on the train or in the toilet, never gets old. The only question is whether you can play FIFA Football and FIFA 12 at the same time, such is the difference in the actual gameplay.
VERDICT: For a first attempt, FIFA Football is a great effort. However, it’s a real shame that it veers closer to FIFA 11 than 12, with such huge strides made in the gameplay department in recent iterations. Regardless, FIFA Football is the only Football game available for PlayStation Vita, and as such, I couldn’t put it down.
A slightly longer development time could have yielded something simply magical, but nonetheless, FIFA Football is an essential PlayStation Vita title for the discerning sports fan, because ultimately, it’s bloody cool to play FIFA on the train.