"It’s in the game." That’s what it says when any given EA Sports game is loaded up as it has done for as long as I can remember. Every year when a new FIFA or Madden or any other game EA Sports decides to churn out releases, each title tends to incorporate some new features over the previous iteration, despite popular belief. Unless you’re FIFA 13 on the PlayStation Vita.
Let me explain: when the PS Vita launched outside of Japan in February, it came with a FIFA game titled FIFA Football, not FIFA 12 despite having its cover art, which I will expand upon. This game was basically FIFA 11 but with the teams from its sequel. Why did EA do this? Well, they said that the lack of time they had due to the launch deadline meant that they could only bring the engine and assets from its console brethren to the handheld and they couldn’t bring some of the new features over. That was fine, since the PS Vita got some extra features of its own which utilize the front and rear touch inputs.
Now, just over six months later, EA Sports has launched FIFA 13 on the PS Vita. Is this the game that Vita-owning football fanatics had been waiting for due to the shortcomings of the launch game? Nope. It’s the exact same game. Well, not quite. It has updated teams for the current football season and that’s about it, this is the very definition of a cheap cash-in.
It’s a real shame too, since this was the perfect opportunity to have both the PS3 and PS Vita versions to be identical and have some cross-connectivity between the two. It would have been great to have seen the option to have the same Career mode save between both platforms, which allows you to continue your save on PS Vita from PS3, or vice versa or maybe even cross-platform online multiplayer but nope, nothing. Hell you could actually do game save transferring with the PS2 and PSP versions of FIFA 06 and FIFA 07. So, why it isn’t possible between two more capable platforms, alongside the increasing popularity of cloud saving, is a bit mystifying.
Also missing from the PS Vita version is the new first touch control system found in the PS3 version. EA Sports have been touting this as the next big evolution in the series, and yet it’s nowhere to be seen in this version. There’s no sign of the new tackling system introduced last year to the series, nor the score updates provided by the no nonsense man Geoff Shreeves, amongst other features. Basically, if there’s a new feature introduced for the PS3 game, it isn’t in the PS Vita version.
Personally, the biggest omission from this title is Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team is the mode in FIFA these days. It’s basically like a trading card game where you build a squad and can move up divisions and, as you do, earn credits to buy better players.
Now it’s time to focus on what the game does have. The first thing you’ll notice is that Wayne Rooney’s mug has been replaced with that of FC Barcelona and Argentina maestro Lionel Messi. It has the current teams as I previously said, as well as touch inputs. The touch screen allows you to pass the ball by touching on the screen where you want to ball to go, touching it for longer increases the power of the pass, as well as shooting if you can see the goal. The rear touchpad is used to shoot the ball. For example, if you touch the top right of the Vita’s touchpad, then the ball will be hit towards the top right of the goal and there is a circle icon on screen to show this. The colour of the icon turns from green to yellow, and orange or red to represent the power of the shot depending on how long you touch it for.
These features are explained when you start up the game for the first time. This is interesting because I noticed this:
If you aren’t up to speed with the world of football and transfers, then I’ll tell you what I’m talking about. On the left you see Dutch international striker Robin van Persie playing for Arsenal and wearing their latest kit, as well as the captain’s armband. This is interesting because Mr. van Persie left Arsenal to join Manchester United during the summer. He is a Man United player in the game, as seen below:
A true example of EA’s lack of care.
Actually playing the game is an enjoyable experience even if you have played FIFA before. However, it does feel a little outdated compared to the PS3 version because of the older gameplay mechanics but it’s not unplayable by any means.
The game does look pretty good on the Vita’s OLED screen too, though it does have some low-resolution textures here and there, as well as jagged edges on some of the markings on the pitches. There are also glitches with the nets not lining up with the post, as you can see in the pictures above. They only really show up in replays which show things at various angles. The game has the usual sounds you’d expect from a FIFA game, crowd chanting, commentary and licensed music. The music in the game isn’t anything special but luckily you can replace it with the Vita’s custom soundtrack feature if you so wish. The in-game sounds aren’t impressive but they do the job. However, they sometimes stop working when playing but come back after a short time.
The game has the long standing game modes like Career and Be a Pro, as well as Tournament and Exhibition modes. You can play online too, either Head to Head or in a lobby, where you can set certain rules, such as match length and assists allowed.
The game itself plays well to be fair, and if you can get past the shortcomings compared to the PS3 version then you’ll not regret your purchase since it’s the best way to play a football game on the go. Unless you bought the launch game, when then you would have every right to be furious with FIFA 13 on the PS Vita.