FIFA Football Review (PS Vita)

FIFA 12 for home consoles was a fairly substantial leap in terms of how the franchise plays. Tactical defending and the new collision engine really changed the way we had to play FIFA and, in spite of some initial negativity, they turned out to really elevate the franchise further above its competitors.

Those new additions are missing from FIFA Football, along with the number in the title and the incredibly profitable Ultimate Team card-trading game. Almost everything else is present and correct. In fact, it’s incredibly impressive that EA has managed to pack so much of the big console feel into this portable version and although the more tactical nature of FIFA 12 is dumbed down slightly with the reversion to the older tackling system, it still requires steady build up play and careful breaking down of the opposition in order to be successful.

[drop]The second analogue stick means that this version can be almost as flamboyant too. Tricks, finesse shooting and precision dribbling are there, with the aid of a shoulder button (or both). The smaller reach of the right stick makes precision a little more difficult, particularly when using it to direct your first touch or knock the ball out from your feet to run onto, but it doesn’t take much getting used to.


The Vita’s new touch surfaces throw up a mixed bag of positive and negative experiences. The touchscreen can be used to tap on a player, or space, you want to pass to. This works reasonably well but with the small players and larger hands it obscures defensive covering runs and can be tricky to get right — especially while trying not to drop your expensive new handheld console. The rear touch surface is cleverly mapped to become a template for the goal. You can shoot by tapping a finger on the back panel which corresponds to whatever area of the goal you want to target. Holding down increases the power and depending on the striker’s ability, your shot will head towards the specified area.

Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to accidentally tap the rear panel and scuff a ball off towards the goal just as you’re about to pass to an open player on the edge of the box. It’s also fairly easy for people, like me, with large thumbs to inadvertently hit the edge of the front touch surface when using the sticks and buttons. This results in a misfired thump of the ball, often in a completely opposite direction to where you were building the play. It feels like an interesting concept which hasn’t quite worked this time, the touch controls are a little less intuitive than simply playing with the buttons.

Career mode has always been my biggest time sink with FIFA games so it’s fantastic to see its appearance here. It’s the full career mode that console players will be accustomed to, with transfers, news screens, tactics, formations and the ability to build your created pro’s stats. Pro Clubs is missing from the multiplayer options but aside from that and Ultimate Team, everything else is intact. Obviously, prior to release, the multiplayer side of the game is impossible to appraise but everything seems present and correct.

[drop2]The game looks fairly stunning, with kits, stadia and player likenesses almost as accurately reproduced as the full console version of the game. Occasional quirks in the animations are barely noticeable during normal gameplay but they can present themselves in the replay theatre when you have everything slowed down and you’re focussed on it.

Sound, too, is quite impressive. There’s the usual scattering of EA Trax alt-rock and pop but that’s easily avoided or replaced thanks to the Vita’s custom soundtracks. Sound effects are decent enough though and commentary is just as you would expect if you’re familiar with FIFA 12’s delivery.

There’s no doubt that FIFA Football is the best handheld football game available. EA has done a tremendous job of delivering the full console experience to a the portability of the Vita. Unfortunately, for franchise fans who have spent the past few months adjusting to FIFA 12’s newly introduced control systems, it may be tricky to reacclimatise to the older systems. To many, this will feel more like FIFA 11.5 than FIFA 12 and that might disappoint some, regardless of how impressive it is as a feat of technical wizardry.


  • Plays like a proper, big console FIFA game.
  • Looks great and has the usual slick presentation.
  • So many teams and a full career mode give it so much longevity.


  • It plays mostly like the wrong big console FIFA game.
  • New control additions aren’t very useful.

If you’re a fan of FIFA and you’ve got your Vita pre-ordered, this is an absolute must-have. It’s not quite on a par with the latest console versions but it’s remarkably close, in terms of both form and function. There are some bits and pieces missing from the familiar menus but nothing that seriously hinders the core gameplay or single player modes. Even the awkwardness in the new control mechanisms are difficult to be too critical of as they can simply be switched off completely. FIFA Football is a seriously good first outing for the franchise on Vita and will be a delight for football fans on the go.

Score: 8/10



  1. Nice review CB. Is it possible to turn off the touch controls to avoid the problems you were experiencing?

  2. Got this in my bundle. Picked it purely because I know it will get much more play time than any other game.

  3. Looks great but think I will wait for Fifa 2013.

    • I’ll wait for Euro 2012.

      • Actually, has an Euro 2012 game been announced yet?
        I hope there’ll be one- Ireland have qualified!!!

      • I was wondering that too, but with the new FIFA Steet, it seems unlikely :/

      • I’m sure there’ll be one- I think they’re just not announcing it yet so as to avoid impacting on FIFA Street.

        I hope. 2010 World Cup was the best FIFA for me overall. It lacked 12’s engine additions, but the increased fidelity in terms of presentation, and a decent challenge mode actually made it seem better overall to me.
        The players acted more like their real counterparts too, at least for the teams that qualified anyway, as there was less of them, so more time could be spent making them just right.

      • +1 2010 world cup game was the best fifa in terms of on pitch play.

      • Yup.
        Just traded in FIFA 12, kept 2010 World Cup.
        It just feels like the most realistic.
        Would love if Euro 2012 was the same only with the added engine features (tactical defending, impact engine, etc.) of FIFA 12.

  4. I have ZERO interest in sport games.

    • So you comment has ZERO relevance in this topic. :p

      • Well his comment is relevant, its relating to sports games and this is a sports game.

      • Smart arse

      • It’s a crap comment. It brings nothing to the mix. I’m not interested in football games but read the article as I wanted to see if the Vita had a great version of FIFA. I also can hold my tongue and avoid such replies but Awayze’s comment is so truly pointless it reaches new heights. Not only that but it winds up the people who love football and want to enthuse about a title such as this.

    • Umadbro? *troll face*

      Sorry, had to be done, I find it hilarious.

  5. I’ll wait till this time next year and pick it up for £5.99 then the next one the following year etc etc.

    • My tactic every year! Although I wait for FIFA to drop just below £20. FIFA 12 is still yet to in most places.
      Having a good FIFA game on the vita though is great. Used to love it on the PSP where you could pause the game switch the console off and return a few hours later to the same exact point and finish the game off.

  6. I’m just waiting for pro evo, konami needs get moving

  7. lol, just bought FIFA 11 for £4.99 for 360. You can buy FIFA 10 for 50p at blockbusters, but thought I’d splash out this time :-)

    • sorry – was meant to be reply to the jetset

  8. Plays like the right FIFA for me. Absolutely hated tactical defending. Sapped all of the fun from the game IMO with too much to think about just to make a tackle, and I ended up trading it in.

    EA had ruined one of my favourite games with this, so it’s a major plus point for me

    • Tactical defending takes some getting used to but its well worth doing, the game plays much better now but you’ve definitely got to get used to it.

      • I agree, the tactical defending definitely improves game play

    • All I read there was “I don’t like it as I’m no good.” :-p

      Tactical defending improves gameplay more than any other aspect in the last few years.

      • Aye it now takes skill to defend.

        The only problem for me is the ‘pace abuse’ being used online by people nowadays.

  9. Another one for the list

    • Same here. It wasn’t before the review mind, so thanks CB.

  10. Oh great – gonna be seriously skint now…

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