FIFA Football on the Vita is the most complete football game portable platforms have ever seen
EA's football franchise has made its way to the Playstation Vita with FIFA Football, a launch title that promises an experience on par with its console brethren. But how does it really stack up against the other versions of the game? Is it a well-rounded experience or a companion piece like FIFA Street? Are the touchscreen and touchpad controls merely gimmicks or do they add value to the experience? Let's try and answer these questions.
There's no doubt that FIFA Football on the Vita is the most complete football game portable platforms have ever seen. In the past, for whatever reason, the Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven series of football games seemed to have the edge over the FIFA series, but now (as with next-gen), FIFA seems to have claimed the portable crown as well. However, is the battle being fought really one of a “portable” nature? FIFA Football Vita is priced on par with FIFA 12 for PS3 and X360 just as the Playstation Vita is with those consoles, and as a result, the expectations from it should, logically (as with other Vita titles), be the same as from the console versions of the game. But realistically, that would be unreasonable. No matter how bleeding-edge the technology of the Vita is, all it can promise is a “near-console” like experience, and if that is the benchmark, FIFA Football scores pretty high, but look at it any other way, and it just feels like EA has taken two steps forward and one step back in the franchise's evolution.
As stated before, FIFA Football on the Vita is virtually identical to its console cousins in a lot of ways. The interface, top-class presentation and production values, as well as the huge roster of real world teams and players are only a few things they share in common. But FIFA Football has (in theory, at least), a control scheme that would have its console counterparts raging with envy. For the first hour or so, the touchscreen and touchpad controls are the stars of the show. Tap the screen to send a pass into open space or to take control of a player while defending. Or aim for the top corner of the goal by tapping its equivalent position on the rear touchpad to see the ball scream into the back of the net. It really does feel very innovative, but it's only when you start playing FIFA Football with relative seriousness that the controls start getting in your way. It is very easy to inadvertently hit the trackpad on the back, while there never seems to be enough time (or a comfortable one-handed grip) to make the most of the touchscreen passing controls. At the harder difficulty levels, even the not-so-innovative controls get in the way — the right analog stick is quite the culprit, causing random player switching due to accidental finger-nudging. In the game's defence, however, one can overcome these control niggles and adapt to FIFA Football's pickiness over time — look beyond them, and there's quite a grand experience in store.
There's not much else to complain about. Okay, there's a sub-par online experience if you're looking for random matches online since nothing seems to connect and players seem to leave game lobbies the second you join them. Serves you right for trying to play with strangers. Playing with friends, on the other hand, is a breeze, and the experience is latency-free for the most part.
Unlike FIFA Street, FIFA Football offers a more “complete” FIFA experience, even if it does feel like a FIFA 11.5. But EA had to fill that void now that the PC version of FIFA is identical to the PS3 and X360 versions. Besides, it's probably the only game on the Vita that offers near-infinite hours of offline or online gameplay. We'll take it.