FIFA Soccer review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer:  EA Canada
Medium: Vita Card / Digital Download
Players: 1 – 2
Online: Yes

With the PS Vita launching with more than 20 titles, it may be hard to decide which titles will be not only the best to start your journey into the new handheld, but which are worth the price of admission. Well EA is vying for your hard earned launch dollars by releasing its first EA Sports title designed with the Vita in mind, but keeping the same great game play and depth we have come to know from this development team.

FIFA Soccer is their first attempt and if they keep up this pace, gamers will be happy to have these titles on the go, as not only are they solid representations of what you can expect on the PS3 or Xbox 360, but being ported to a handheld also doesn?t mean a shallow experience either. For myself, I found it hard to really play handhelds at home, when a bigger display and more powerful potential was always only 10 feet away from me, but with the Vita, it is nearly a PS3 in your hands – It is really that impressive and we are only on the launch titles folks! Fans of this soccer franchise can expect to see and touch all their favorite game modes they?ve grown to love; including Be a Pro, Career, Tournaments, and Online modes. Honestly the only thing really absent from this version is the Ultimate Team modes, but otherwise, this game is loaded with all the fixings you could not only want from a soccer title, but have grown to love from the FIFA series. I am really impressed with the fact that the developers have found a way to cram all of the intricacies of the 15 year career mode, stats and all into this little space, and still having all the modes and online play to boot.

In the past, gaming on the go meant sacrifice, both in terms of content and visuals, but as I mentioned earlier, content is not an issue and thankfully either is the game?s look, sound and presentation. FIFA on the PS Vita looks every bit as good as you would hope to find on the home consoles, with brilliant animation, replays, detail, and a smooth frame rate all wonderfully brought over to the Vita nearly flawlessly. I say nearly, as while the majority of the game looks like PS3 visuals, there are some bits such as aliasing, a few lower quality textures, polygon reductions and the crowds that take a hit, but for the most part, the game is a very slick clone of the same game brought to you on the PS3. The crowd, while present, really only moves on reaction moments, and maybe only a frame or two at a time at that. I honestly didn?t really pay much attention until I was checking out a sweet replay of a goal I made and noticed this, but I figured I had to mention it for the picky ones reading this review. This in turn should just be an example of how genuine of a port this is when I have to find something so insignificant to touch upon.

The audio commentary is just as full and vibrant as the home version as well, which is impressive on how much they really fit on to this tiny cart. It still boggles my mind that I used to play Neo Geo games that set me back over 150 bucks apiece and they barely held any memory, now we have content that can fit on a DVD filling a card the size of your fingernail. Lastly, I was happy to see that unlike some other games I?ve played on the Vita, the load times were very small.

So how does the game play on the Vita? Spot on mate! All the controls you would hope would be present are here, from dribbling, tackling, lob passing, and shooting, to challenges are all possible thanks the number of buttons and of course the dual analog sticks. So what do you get here that is Vita specific you may ask? Optional touch controls is your answer, and they are actually more than just a stylish gimmick. Defending, passing, and even free kicks can be done with touch controls with little to no intrusion, with the biggest highlight easily being the shooting that provides for more precise aiming on the net. The game even gives you the ability to use the rear touch pad so that your hands are not in the way of the action on screen. While on simpler A.I. settings this may feel a bit like cheating, but I encourage you to ramp up the difficulty as the net minder will catch onto your approaches and touch controls make choosing your target on the fly more rewarding. While cross play is not a feature this year, I can?t imagine that next season it won?t be there considering just how close the on screen action is on both the PS3 and Vita.

FIFA Soccer on the PS Vita is a welcome launch title, and if you fancy the sport at all, it should be a must buy.

Grade: A-