I'm still a little shocked. I mean, I love my football and I generally love my FIFA, but if you'd told me two months ago that the single best game available at the Vita's launch would be this, a handheld port of a game that's just in time for the end of the European season, I'd have slapped you in the mouth.
But I won't. Because it is.
FIFA Football on the Vita isn't, despite the recycled cover art, actually FIFA 12. At least, not as you know it from the PS3 and 360. For some reason, it's FIFA 11. It has the new menu of last year's game, and the latest roster updates and kits, but everything else is straight out of 2010.
Which is good news for this game.
WHAT I LIKED
Viva Vita! For the most part, FIFA Football makes the best use of the range of the Vita's capabilities of any game available at launch. You control the bulk of the game using the dual thumbsticks and buttons, as you would on the console version, but at certain points (almost always for through-balls, something FIFA is normally woeful at) you can use the touch-screen to manually direct a pass. Just tap on the screen and that's where the ball goes. Same goes for shooting. There's the option to use the rear touch panel to guide where the ball goes. So tap the top-right of the rear panel and your shot will head for the top-right.
Both these options are a revelation for this game. Console FIFA titles have traditionally fallen over in the attacking third of the pitch, with poor through-ball AI and haphazard shooting making scoring more of a grind than a joy. With the touch-screen passing (which you should only use for through-balls or putting the ball into space, not for regular passing) and precision shot aiming, suddenly you're free to really probe at your opponent's defences. The sheer joy of sliding a ball into open space, seeing a strike run onto it then slamming the ball into the opposite top corner is a delight, made more memorable by the fact it's almost impossible to achieve using a control pad on the home versions.
WHY: FIFA is the best sports game on the market. This is the best version of FIFA you can get.
FIFA Football Vita
Developer: EA Sports
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Released: February 15 (North America), February 22 (Europe)
Type of game: Sports.
What I played: Played all game modes.
Two Things I Loved
- Uses the Vita's features in a way that makes the game better, not as a stupid novelty.
- Smart design and good porting means you'll think you're playing the PS3 version in your hand.
Two Things I Hated
- If you're using the Vita's full range of controls, your hands will hurt.
- Agonising load times on menu screens.
Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes
- "The best use of hands in a sport where you don't use your hands!" - - Luke Plunkett, Kotaku.com
- "Pro Evo on the 3DS looks like an N64 game compared to this." - Luke Plunkett, Kotaku.com
FIFA 11. FIFA 12 tried three new things: a new online hub, a new player collision system and a new defensive system. Because this is basically FIFA 11, you don't get them here. Considering the latter two were actually steps backward for the series, that is a good thing. Despite FIFA 11 being a 2010 game, it was a better game than the 2011 edition, so you're getting a better deal.