FIFA Soccer Review
Despite the fact that the Vita is brand-spanking new technology, FIFA Soccer on the platform is dated. A year old, to be exact. That means I’m not talking about FIFA 12, which was a great step forward for the franchise. Instead, this Vita FIFA takes after FIFA 11 – a game that I find hard to go back to.
Going strictly by the Vita’s capabilities, it’s hard not to be impressed by what this game looks and feels like on the handheld. The two analog sticks replicate many of the beautiful gameplay moments that the franchise has become known for, and shooting using the back touchscreen is a fun experience. It actually does a good job of being intuitive but not too easy to pull off every time. This attempts to replicate the fact that finishing with a precise, killer shot on net isn’t always as easy as it seems.
But actually playing the game is different than just being excited about what the hardware itself has done or can do. That’s because I’ve already played FIFA 12, and that makes going back to what is effectively FIFA 11 tough. I already know there’s a better soccer experience out there (albeit on my home console). That manifests itself here primarily in the fact that the defensive AI can be atrocious, and because you don’t have the newer FIFA 12 defensive commands to effectively shadow players and time your challenges, playing defense in this game is hampered.
Elsewhere FIFA Soccer has limitations. The career mode lacks the scouting department feature to effectively bolster your youth squad, and the dynamic AI offers during the transfer windows are also missing. Furthermore, unlike the back touchscreen shooting controls, the front touchscreen passing and player selection is simply a bad idea for this kind of game that can require quick reflexes. Taking your thumb off the right analog stick and face buttons to touch the front screen is tremendously risky in a game where you can ill afford to be caught with your hands away from important controls – not to mention the fact that the screen is then obscured by your giant, warty mitt being in the way. And although there’s a slight strategic element to being able to place through balls by touching the front screen, I found their actual distribution of passes to points at the edge or entirely off the screen to be lacking.
There’s a reason why most people buy the newest year of a sports game, and it’s not just to get the new rosters. It’s always good to get the latest gameplay tweaks – but you won’t find them here in this FIFA title. FIFA Soccer for the Vita may do a good job showing what the new system can do, but it could do a better job with offering a tighter gameplay experience.