Review: FIFA 13 on PS Vita feels like a repeat
A lot of people accuse sports developers of pretty much "recycling" the same features over and over again for their yearly releases. While most of the time we can argue against this point and talk about the fundamental features that have been added to these games, we find ourselves hard-pressed to do so with FIFA Soccer 13 on the PlayStation Vita.
That's because this is the second soccer game to come out of EA Sports for the handheld in six months, as the original FIFA Soccer debuted back with the system in March. You'd think in that time frame that EA would've found the time to add some of the bigger features in the series, like the online Football Club or the ability to build your own Ultimate Team. But no, sadly, this game feels like a repeat. That's not to say it isn't a good game of soccer. It's just that we've seen it before.
A lot of the features that made it into the first game are back for more, and they're just as good as ever. You can take on a 15-year career with your player, moving and shaking your way up the ranks and skills; you can create a player from the ground up using Virtual Pro, installing him into teams and moving about the field; and you can even manage your team however you wish, recruiting new players and changing up formations and plays if you think it'll help you perform better. There's balance here, to be sure.
And there are still online match-ups to be had through the PlayStation Network, as you can hop on with friends (PS Vita version only – this was in dire need of Cross-Play with FIFA 13 on consoles, we're afraid), through ranked and unranked matches. But that's really about it. There's still no sign of Head To Head Season or Match Day updates, which is what makes the console version shine.
Sadly, the touch controls haven't improved at all over the last two versions. You can still pass around the screen by touching players on it, though it's not entirely accurate and forces you to configure around doing stuff with the analog sticks. The back touch controls work, but only to an extent, like when it comes to goal shooting. I think you're better off just using the analog stick and face buttons because these continue to work well when it comes to getting the ball down the field, performing steals, and nailing the ball into the net. Again, it's just like the previous version. No increase in AI stats or anything like that…
Though it's using an older engine (not even something along the lines of FIFA 12 – this is more like 11), FIFA Soccer 13 still looks great on the Vita, particularly with player animations, replay angles and plenty of authentic action. The crowd really gets into the action as well, even with the limitations of the Vita compared to consoles. The audio is strong, for the most part, featuring lots of crazy cheering and authentic play calling.
Again, though, I just have to reiterate that we've seen all of this six months ago, and the fact that EA would re-release this game with just a minor roster update and new cover art, without adding the improvements that would've made this a real power player, is disappointing. If you don't have a soccer game for the Vita yet, this is as good of a purchase as any, but if you already own the original FIFA Soccer, just stick with it and watch for roster updates. You aren't missing anything major here. Not at all. Let's hope this changes for FIFA 14.