There's a reason FIFA Football (that's FIFA Soccer to those in the US) on the Vita lacks the "12" tag of its console counterparts. Many of the franchise's compelling new features, such as the Tactical Defending System, Precision Dribbling, and the Player Impact Engine are missing, as is the excellent EA Sports Football Club online mode. While that's disappointing, the classic FIFA gameplay is still a lot of fun, bringing all the thrills, spills, and drama of the world's biggest sport to the Vita. There's fluidity to the gameplay that produces some wonderful football, and that paired with the official licences, great visuals, and slew of modes makes for an experience few sports games can match.
Outlandish goal celebrations are par for the course in FIFA.
Impressively, all of FIFA 12's single-player modes have made the jump to the Vita. At the heart of these is Virtual Pro, in which you create a player, selecting his age, play style, and position (goalkeeper is an option here). You can also customise the physical appearance of your player, but unlike in the console version of the game, you can't map your own face onto him--a strange omission given that the Vita has built-in cameras. Once you've got your player set up, you can use him throughout Career mode--and even the practice arena--building up his statistics and earning accomplishments.
Career mode lets you compete either as a single player working through a 15-year career; as a player manager, with whom you manage your team's lineup and compete on the pitch; or as a manager, with whom you take a backseat to the on-pitch action and instead focus on tactics and building up your squad. There's something for everyone, and if you tire of one mode, you can easily switch between them to mix things up. There's also an array of tournaments to play through, from the FA Cup through to custom leagues and knockout tournaments, as well as quick exhibition matches.
While the single-player modes are lifted from FIFA 12, the action on the pitch certainly isn't. Improvements such as the Tactical Defending System, Precision Dribbling, and the Player Impact Engine are nowhere to be found. The lack of tactical defending is particularly jarring, with the old "pressing" technique feeling dated and requiring little in the way of skill. That said, the Vita still plays a mean game of football, mostly based on that of FIFA 11. Player movement is quick, without feeling unrealistic; the constant tussling of players makes long runs fabulously tense; and goals range from the mundane to the spectacular, with all manner of crosses, runs, and outrageous volleys possible.
"Woo! We're on the Vita!"