It's no surprise that EA's making its PlayStation Vita debut with a portable version of the FIFA franchise. Association football's the world's most popular sport and recent years have seen EA make strong strides in its rivalry with Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series. They're looking to take that resurgence to Sony's new handheld and will implementing the device's touch functionality in interesting ways.
When I handled FIFA on Vita a week ago, the developers on hand said that they wanted to deliver a full-fledged experience on par with the franchise's console games but also something that feels unique to the handheld. One of the features they can up with is touch-panel shooting, where you use the rear panel to aim and kick. When you tap, the ball goes to the spot that corresponds to wherever your fingertip is. This makes shooting on goal a completely different experience, since the touch panel's rectangular shape matches the shape of the goal. Trying it a few times gave me more precision that I expected and I even managed to slip one past the keeper.
I had a similar experience with the tap-passing that being built into the game, too. This function uses the front screen and it's as simple as where you tap is where you pass. A longer press elevates the passing kick for when you want to get the ball downfield in a hurry.
While the touch play might be considered something that EA is doing just because they can, the end result was, for me, an increase in the sense of immediacy. I felt closer to being on the field, as if my fingers were substituting for the players' legs and, with the shooting, almost like I was telepathically directing the ball. Granted, the switch in input takes some getting used to but it felt like a nice marriage of idea and device. FIFA will hit PlayStation Vita when the device launches next year.