Reviewing FIFA on the Vita gets to be more of a chore each year. How should I approach it? Should I go with a fresh approach every time and review the game on its own merits? As to be honest, that’s becoming increasingly difficult although I can’t imagine anyone being happy if I took the EA approach and just pasted last year’s review with different screens. Should I compare the performance to the existing Vita games AND those on other systems? The Vita certainly isn’t as powerful as other consoles but the series has seen some evolution and changes elsewhere are relevant, at least to me. To be honest, I think the all-round best way to tackle FIFA 15 on the Vita is to find a balance between the two viewpoints.

The EA approach to the Vita has been very simple; take last year’s title and slap new kits and squad rosters in and the job is done. Very simple, and very lazy but this time it is slightly different because it’s not exactly the same game as they have crazily removed the online multiplayer element of the game. Now I do not know who made this baffling decision, but FIFA is infinitely more fun when playing with others and only being able to play alone somewhat removes the point in the long run. There are other modes of course, but you can only play so many career modes or play custom tournaments before you get bored – you expect a little more for your money, and rightly so.

For newcomers to either FIFA on the Vita or indeed the Vita itself, FIFA 15 is an almost perfect port of the console version of FIFA 11. With no online functionality there is no online clubs, but this mode hasn’t yet been available on previous Vita versions nor has Ultimate Team, but we will come back to that in a bit.

FIFA 15What you do get for your money is three kick off modes where you can select any of the 500 officially licenced clubs in an exhibition match or two Be A Pro modes where you can specifically choose any player or even the goalkeeper. You can also create your own tournament with your own rules, selecting from over 50 real world tournaments or embark on your own career mode either as a player with your virtual pro, a manager or a player manager.

The game is certainly pretty and looks very nice on the Vita, the audio and commentary really making you feel like you are playing a decent game of football. There are also clever uses of the front and rear touch for passing and shooting respectively, although its highly likely you’ll turn these features off once you have popped all of the relevant trophies. Speaking of trophies, with no online modes there are no online trophies to speak of – which has made the platinum for this game even more attainable than ever. No five wins in a row, chipping the keeper or one hundred matches this time around; so if trophy hunting and platinum collecting are your kind of thing, this could be a little more appealing. So far, so good – it’s looking like an easy purchase, right?

That’s where the voice of reason has to kick in, though. FIFA 14, FIFA 13 and FIFA FOOTBALL – albeit with a very different (and glitched) trophy list – are all ultimately the same game. They can be bought for much cheaper and more importantly have online multiplayer, which you really should consider that before moving ahead with this game. You also have to question the sanity of buying a game which has seen no evolution in nearly three years. EA have no issue with offering a token gesture to you, rather than innovating the series on the Vita.

FIFA 15Which is where the envious glances towards other systems comes in. Sure, the Vita doesn’t pack the same horsepower as the PS4, but would it be too much to ask for a more advanced game engine? For the little changes like quick free kicks and throw ins? The impact engine, the improvements to the goalkeepers? The changes to career mode with international matches or even things like skill games or the FIFA community?. None of that is here. Console FIFA has steadily evolved over the years and when the game is being released at close to full price is it too much to expect a little more effort? It very much feels like a big kick in the teeth to Vita owners and would surely have caused less furore if they had simply avoided the system altogether. I also cannot fathom why there is no Ultimate Team; it was DLC for FIFA 11 and a staple of the annual franchise in subsequent titles, as well as a clear money maker to EA from the pack mechanic. It would add some serious longevity to the title, but is sadly nowhere to be found.

I certainly feel that I am in my rights to expect more from a series which offers much more elsewhere. The game has evolved so much over the last few years, meaning that the gameplay offered here is certainly somewhat stale in comparison. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but it is very much lagging behind what the series as a whole offers. Throw into the mix the lack of multiplayer and you have an even bigger issue, as the online component is a massive part of FIFA and by removing it you remove the largest part of the appeal.

FIFA 15

In every FIFA review to date I have always said that you should buy the current version if you don’t own the others, but for the first time I am unable to make this recommendation. If you don’t own a Vita FIFA and are looking for some portable football action then I strongly suggest you pick up FIFA 14, or even Football Manager Classic 2014 if you are after a more strategic management simulation. If the latest kits are that important to you and you have another system then I’d recommend buying it for that, as I cannot justify this purchase for you.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Presentation
Gameplay
Lasting Appeal
Execution
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Paul founded The Vita Lounge and is the Executive Editor, but still likes to get involved with the odd piece of news or a review. 35 years young and gaming since 1990, he has a preference for Action/RPG games, Shooters, Racing Games (despite ironically not being able to drive!) and quite partial to a game of FIFA.
  • vongruetz .

    It is strange that they should remove the online capabilities, but if I had to guess, they probably looked at how many people were playing the older editions online and decided it wasn’t enough to justify keeping it. I mean, removing it would mean they actually put some work into the game. Personally, I only play single-player career mode, so it doesn’t effect me that much, but for those who do enjoy the multiplayer, it’s a bad hit. I just never had fun playing an online game that always had some lag to it and then a connection issue or a “rage quit” would suddenly find the game coming to a quick end.

    I bought the original FIFA for Vita and it was easily one of my favorite games. My one main issue though was how slow it ran during career mode. It would take forever to go from one match to the next and watching the days on the calendar get crossed off took an eternity. Recently I started playing FIFA 14 and that issue has been resolved. That alone was worth the upgrade for me (though I still didn’t pay much and bought it used, so…)

    I think you’re right though in that FIFA 14 seems to be the best buy at the moment. 15 might be good for the trophies, but that’s not worth $40. Maybe down the road, if it gets cheap then I’ll look at it.

    But just remember, as bad as we may think this version is, at least it’s not the one on the 3DS. That version is abysmal and makes the old PSP games look great by comparison.

    • EA choose to use their own servers though, rather than using the PlayStation infrastructure. Its certainly disappointing.

    • GeminiR

      Yes, but owners of the 3DS can have Pro Evolution Soccer 13. So I am not sure about the ‘at least’ part: Vita owners are far worse off in this matter … 🙁

  • Adjaero Pascal

    Lasting appeal should have no stars at all. after playing the original FIFA soccer and FIFA 14, I can’t stand the hearing the exact commentary, seeing the exact gameplay and stadiums and WORST? THE EXACT SAME UI. No improvements whatsoever. I’ll just play FIFA 14 on my PC. Only God knows why Konami hasn’t made a PES game for the vita

  • Buckybuckster

    You would think seeing with the absence of Madden on Vita this year (and last), they could afford to put a bit more effort in what is EA’s only offering now on the system. It would seem to be a logical and prudent move on their part. I guess as far as our beloved Vita is concerned, neither logic or prudence are a part of EA’s plan. However duping unsuspecting consumers into buying the same game over and over again seems to be high up on the agenda.

  • GeminiR

    Outrageous! And to think I said this was going to be good for getting new owners to the Vita. The removal of the multiplayer option when they eliminated ad-hoc was bad enough.

    In other words the best thing to do is buy the PSP version of FIFA 13, install it in your Vita (and your old PSP) and play ad-hoc. After all, practically same game, same narration, etc, etc. But even 19.99 going EA’s way feel wrong, somehow…

    Zero stars for this one!

  • Simon Finn

    I’ve got to admit I was really disappointed by this. Just re-skinning it feels cheap and when you see how much the presentation has improved for FIFA 15 it feels like an opportunity missed. Be the last time I get FIFA on Vita if this is all they are going to do. (And some of the character models are laughable. Mauro Zarate for West Ham is allegedly bald. News to him and his hair.)

  • Risarovi

    They do not conform to bring out the same game each year, but getting worse. Incredible.

  • ikhwan

    the squad isn’t updated too. Kagawa is still with Manchester United. and there is no squad latest update. dissappointing enough.

  • Shriram

    Could anyone please say if FIFA 15 has New York City FC and Orlando City SC in MLS?