FIFA Football PS Vita review
Had an EA Sports suit had jumped into a Delorean, travelled back in time and shown me Vita’s first footy sim a couple of years ago, I’d have been both ‘flabber’ and ‘gasted’. In short, this portable FIFA looks every bit as pretty as Andrea Pirlo’s dashing jawline. Reviewed in isolation, it’s also a surprisingly robust package. Sadly, it just can’t quite compete with its purple-nosed PS3 gaffer.
Honestly, though, how could it? David Rutter and his team at EA Canada worked tirelessly for over two years building FIFA 12’s engine. It’s little surprise, then, that the demanding Player Impact Engine and Messi-esque precision dribbling have been dropped from the Vita starting line-up like a dissenting, gargoyle-faced Man City striker.
Without these features, what you’re left with is essentially a fantastic port of FIFA 11. And whether you can accept a return to the magic magnetic circle button tackle of old will entirely depend on how much you enjoyed the latest entry’s manual tactical defending.
What you can’t criticise is the effort EA has put into trying to make the most of Vita’s unique feature set. Like a pair of massive, uncovered Geordie moobs at a Newcastle away game, touchscreen controls are everywhere. You can obviously still use the traditional face-button scheme of the PS3 titles, but tapping a player with your finger also passes the ball to him. The rear touchpad can also be used for shooting. Basically, imagine it as a net – tap the upper right of the slinky finger-mat and you’ll send your shots flying towards the top corner.
Although the finger-focused controls do their job with all the efficiency of a Bayern Munich counter-attack, my stupid chipolata digits just weren’t up to the job. Try as I might, I could never quite get my hands into a comfortable position where both of the shoulders buttons (needed to sprint and switch players), plus the screen or rear touchpad, were easily accessible.
Gripes over Vita’s layout and the ambitious (if not always successful) touchscreen controls shouldn’t put you off FIFA Football, though, because this is the most uncompromised PS3 experience running on Vita we’ve seen. Yup, that even includes you, Mr Drake.
On the pitch, passing and shooting are every bit as satisfyingly crisp as in FIFA 12. Off it, this is the most extensive package you can currently buy on the handheld. Not only do 11-on-11 online matches and Be A Pro make the cut, but there’s a full version of the career mode, too.
For a first-season effort, FIFA Football is a seriously impressive achievement. If you can stomach the prospect of losing FIFA 12’s on-pitch changes, this should be your top transfer target when you sign for Vita United.