Reviews (Gamestation)

FIFA Football (PS Vita) - Review

FIFA Football on PlayStation Vita at gamestation

Eat My Goal!

Sometimes it feels as though the imperious FIFA series has been around for as long as gaming itself, but despite numerous iterations over the years - culminating in the sublime FIFA 12 last September - nobody has ever delivered a fully featured FIFA game for a handheld console. At least until now. It's becoming a familiar refrain for PlayStation Vita: this - insert name of famous game series - wasn't possible to get outside of home console releases... until PS Vita came along.

Thanks to the PlayStation Vita's numerous control methods and its high-powered innards, EA Sports has been able to recreate the home experience almost entirely. Purists can stick to the expected control schemes (Alternative, Classic and Two-Button) and stride across licensed versions of famous pitches passing the ball around at a zippy pace, lofting and sliding through-balls and smashing the ball goal-wards at every opportunity. Those who are willing to try new things can use the touch-screen to pass, which works quite well, or use the rear-touch panel to shoot.

The latter is one of FIFA Football on PS Vita's best new ideas. The game effectively treats the reverse of the handheld as a sort of one-to-one approximation of the goalposts (it's the right shape, after all). When you get within range of shooting you just tap on the rear panel to fill up a shot meter and then let go to fire the ball. It's surprisingly intuitive for something so alien to our ageing gaming instincts, although the purist in us will always prefer the classic setup. Worth experimenting with.

Let your fingers do the scoring in FIFA Football on PS Vita

What's The Score?

This is a more or less fully featured port of the previous FIFA game, FIFA 11, so it lacks some of the series' newest features - like the Impact Engine and Tactical Defending - but there is still an enormous amount you can do. There are full Career modes where you control an individual player, a player-manager or a whole team, and you can play ranked and unranked matches online with very solid internet play thanks to PlayStation Network.

On the pitch, whether you're playing against the AI or a human opponent, the action is slick and varied. The analogue stick allows for tight control of the ball, you can weight your passes to suit your objectives, and there are numerous subtle ways to unlock your opponent's defence - elevated through-balls, triangle passing, multiple crossing styles, and a free-kick system that also takes advantage of the PS Vita's unique control schemes. Defending is a matter of holding the X and square buttons to pressure the man in possession and using well-timed stabs of the circle button to slide-tackle, although referees can be quite strict so you may want to hold fire on that whenever you can.

FIFA in your hands - FIFA Football on PS Vita

Unbelieveable Tekkers

Thanks to the amazing underlying simulation you can rely on FIFA Football to present all sorts of different scenarios and variation, however many times you play, and while there are certain tactics that work well against certain opponents, there's no sure-fire way to win besides out-thinking your opponent in footballing terms. Drag players out of position, create space and exploit it - or just do some something inspired. It's real football, and that's why it's so good.

It is easy to imagine that EA Sports will release a new FIFA Vita title later this year when the inevitable FIFA 13 game rears its head, but in the meantime this is still well worth checking out. Devoted football fans have never been able to play a version of the beautiful game that's this, well, beautiful and fully-featured on a handheld before. Forget the ball-flicking smartphone games - kill your commute with the real deal. As the series itself used to say: Let's FIFA!

Our rating: 8.0

What's Good?

  • As fully featured as the home version of FIFA 11.
  • Play online in ranked and unranked matches.
  • New touch controls offer precise shooting.

What's Bad?

  • Will probably be replaced by FIFA 13 in a few months' time.
  • Touch controls sometimes get in the way.
  • Long loading times.

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