Preview:- FIFA Vita

Not only did our very own Tom Wallis get an early chance to go hands on with the upcoming Playstation Vita, he had his grubby mits all over FIFA Football (FIFA Soccer in the USA), a launch title that will be hitting shelves in February alongside the console release. But what did he think?

Sony are making a big todo about the possibilities of gaming between PS3 and Vita; saying players will be able to begin a game on their PS3, taking their progress with them on their portable device if they have to dash out of the house for any reason. I’ll state categorically now, so as to not disappoint, that FIFA Vita will not tie into FIFA 12 in this way. With Vita development being so new and the install base currently being a complete unknown, it isn’t really surprising that EA have chosen to not fully pursue every feature of the new console. Instead they’ve opted for a ‘baby steps’ approach, but my word are those steps good ones.

The first thing to strike you about FIFA Vita is the graphics. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming because, no word of a lie, this console packs some serious processing power. The game looks remarkable. Rather than being an approximation of the console version, it looks almost identical. Detail throughout the presentation are unprecedented on a handheld, with no hint of slowdown during the match I played. It truly has to be seen in motion to be believed.

And it goes further; FIFA Vita isn’t just a port of a console version of FIFA. Whilst the game modes we’ve come to expect are all present, including the Be A Pro game mode that has you control the career or a single player, the gameplay introduces the front and back touchpads.

Yes, these really are screenshots for FIFA Football, not the console title FIFA 12

“Front and back touchpads?” I hear you say; I’m right there with you, it confused me too at first. I’ll take each in turn.

The front touchpad control allows you to do several things. If you’re defending, you can simply tap a player you select them and gain control. This illiminates any issues with having to cycle through available players until you get the one you actually wanted; often a grumble of console FIFA players. When you have the ball, you can tap on the pitch or tap a player to pass the ball directly to them along the ground. Holding the screen for longer than a tap will loft the ball.

For me, the greatest evolution of the franchise since the ‘through ball pass’ comes with the use of the back touchpad. When you’re attacking, the goal mouth is mapped to the pad, and tapping or holding your finger on it will shoot exactly where you’ve touched. I can’t begin to explain how amazing it feels to break past a defender, tap the top right of the touch pad and have the ball scream past the goalkeeper, hurtling into the top corner.

The implementation of touch controls is a revelation, plain and simple.

Obviously the success rate of each of these features will be dictated by player statistics. Also, it’s worth noting that the touch features are optional; you can decide to use the standard face buttons, a combination of face buttons and touch features and even turn the new features off in the start menu.

Standard games can be set to 6 minute halves, and that’s how the majority of people play FIFA currently on the PS3 and XBox 360. This seems like the perfect length of time to answer pick up and play titles that have flooded the iphone and ipad. This reviewer has been sitting on the sidelines since FIFA 10, and FIFA Vita is perfectly placed to bring me back in the game. Look out for a full review soon after launch in February.

- Tom Wallis

Tue, November 8 2011 » Previews, Vita

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