When the Playstation Vita launched, there was a game representing almost every genre. Uncharted: The Golden Abyss filled the action-platformer slot, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 swooped in as the fighting game of choice, and Lumines: Electronic Symphony was your go-to puzzle experience. EA Sports stepped out on the field as the sports game with FIFA Soccer.
This realistic sports-sim title isn’t your usual handheld port (which usually lacks features from the console versions), but a full-fledged console-worthy soccer game that utilizes the represented hardware in full.
Once the game loads you’re immediately dumped into a practice arena, rather than the traditional start menu. I personally loved this feature, as each time it loaded, I would kick the ball around and try to make a few goals. While you have the option to pass and shoot the ball with regular buttons like its console counterpart, you can use the two touchscreens to make things a little more authentic. Think of the back touchpad as the goal and wherever you tap on the screen is where you’ll aim your shot. You can hold it for a second or two for some added oomph, but if you hold it too long you will shoot the ball way over your target.
This feature adds a beautiful layer of precision, but it’s also far easier to score using this method. I would play games without using the rear touch-pad and admittedly I found it less thrilling, but I also found it more difficult to score a goal. That “realistic” feeling adds a bit of authenticity to shooting in the game as if you were actually playing and you knew how to aim at the top-right corner of the goal. But in terms of gameplay, it can feel a little cheap at times. Don’t get me wrong, this is by far my favorite feature, and having that powerful sense of control is really what drew me in.
The front touchscreen can be used to shoot, though it acts like the button would if you just pressed it instead. Passing can be done by tapping the receiver on the front screen. The front touchscreen, in general, I found useless. It was too far out of the way to work a solid pass without cursing and thinking I should have just pressed the “X” button.
The career modes are different and offer a little bit for everyone. I personally found the most enjoyment in the “Player” mode, as it allowed you to play only as your created character. You get rated by your performance, and being in your position was something that was reflected in the rating. For people like me that just want to hog the ball, it teaches you to play as a team and hold your position instead of wandering around wherever you want and pressing on the ball. FIFA Soccer even guides you to your spot by throwing bright yellow arrows up on the screen when you’re too far away.
“Coach” mode allows you to do exactly as it sounds. You make all the decisions behind the games but you can also play as the whole squad if you want to get some soccer action in anyways. As a “Player Manager,” you are involved in both key positions, and can play as your Virtual Pro if you want to.
Online play is robust, especially when compared to other Vita games I have played so far. You can play a one-on-one ranked match or create/join a custom league with your friends. I played a few games online and never experienced any lag. If you choose not to use the touch controls and want a fair game, there is even a lobby for “manual controls”, which is a considerate choice for EA Sports to include.
FIFA Soccer is an impressive game for the Vita with a lot to offer fans of the sport. It also shows promise for EA Sports’ future Vita titles, as they are not just tacking on various options just “because they can.” The use of the rear touchscreen is a creative way to immerse you in the experience and give you even more control, and that’s exactly the kind of game mechanics needed to set Vita games apart from their console counterparts.
- Rear touchpad controls give players more precision in shooting
- Lots of volume of content for a $40 game
- It’s a console experience on a handheld, through and through
- The front touchscreen controls seem nice but are bulkier than the opposing buttons