This year was a strange one for Vita, normally we’d sit here at this time of the year and take a look at FIFA – talking about how it was basically the same game as last year with updated teams, but sadly EA decided to give the Vita a miss this year.
Handball 16 by Big Ben Interactive could very well be a worthwhile replacement to the miss of our usual yearly football fix, but will the different sport be just as approachable as FIFA? Let’s find out!
The controls to this particular game are simple, whilst playing offensively a press of X allows you to pass the ball to players, Circle is your shoot button and Triangle allows for jump shots – which can often be less accurate. You can also use the L and R triggers as well as the analogue sticks to twist your players and perform more advanced shots.
While playing defensively the controls change, pressing Circle allows you to push players over (which most of the time lead to have players sent off), pressing Square will allow you to try and intercept passes or shots and Triangle will allow you to try and jump to intercept shots.
I had no idea that Handball was a professional sport before starting up the game, which led to no surprise when I noticed there were no English teams to be seen in the game, instead there was a lot of French, Spanish and Italian teams to choose from. I went with Paris-Saint Germain Handball Club as I know their football team perform quite well.
Starting my first match I learnt even more how much I didn’t know the sport, the game gave me no indication of the rules or what to do in order to score. I lost that particular match 7-0, that’s when I decided to take things on the defensive side.
In my second match I had too many players sent off due to pushing the opposition over, which then lead to the entire team being disqualified. That’s when I found the perfect balance between offensive and defensive play and from there I started to score goals and win games.
Their are three game modes to choose from in Handball 16. First up is Career Mode, which allows you to create your own player, start off in a lower level team and work your way up to a five star team and play amongst some of the best Handball players in the world. You can get one offer per season to join a different club, and you have to make the decision of whether or not you’re ready to rise up the ranks.
The second mode is a league mode, where you’ll play through a whole season playing each team twice throughout 26 different matches, your goal is to win as many matches as you can and rise to the top of the league.
The third and final mode of the game is Exhibition mode, where you can pick any team you like and play against any other team of your choosing, this is the best mode to play if you’re trying to learn the ropes and get used to the rules and controls of the game, so this is a highly recommended starting point in my opinion.
You may have already noticed that there appears to be something missing, the option of a multiplayer or online mode, that’s because their isn’t one. I’m not sure if this is the case with all versions of the game, but it’s definitely missing in the Vita version – which is a shame as it would’ve been fantastic to go online and play against friends.
The visuals of the game are also quite a let down, the game doesn’t quite look as sharp or perform as well as FIFA does on Vita, that being said, it’s clear what the game is trying to achieve in terms of visuals and if Handball 17 is to be a thing then this is something they could definitely look to improve on.
The sound design is also rather fantastic, the commentators are hilariously cheesy, but it’s quite amusing and eye opening to hear what they have to say, I actually learnt a lot about my play style by listening to them and it helped me when trying to improve my game play style.
Other than that the gameplay is incredibly difficult to start, but once you get the hang of it Handball 16 can actually be rather addicting, the kind of game where you stay up all night playing it – which I very much nearly did. It is definitely something unique and interesting and may very well be a worthwhile alternative to FIFA.