Although its proper name may be disputed in different sections of the world, soccer is in possession of a very prestigious crown. The sport that many have dubbed as the beautiful game, has been publicly acknowledged as the most popular game on our blue and green planet. Taking that fact into consideration, it’s not surprising that video game translations of the athletic phenomenon, are regular sell outs on multiple platforms. One of those devices is the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, which has just been graced with the release of FIFA 12. Now, fans can get some high-quality footie in, while they’re out and about.
Soccer is an incredibly graceful sport, which relies on individual players’ endurance, creativity, effort levels and overall skill. Those things combine to create an electrifying form of entertainment, which is viewed around the globe on an almost daily basis. Watching teams battle it out for possession of a white and black ball, with the hope of putting it into a rectangular net, is something that has become an obsession of many. Even though goal scoring is usually quite limited during each ninety minute plus match, the sport’s cat and mouse mechanics are mesmerizing to its avid fans.
Having spent quite a bit of time with the high-definition console version of FIFA Soccer 12, I was quite impressed to note how well Electronic Arts was able to translate that experience to the surprisingly powerful Xperia PLAY. Sure, this is a cellphone game. However, it doesn’t really feel like one. What’s included in this download is a fully-fledged footie game that is both addicting and polished. It’s also fun and easy to pick-up and play, giving you something to do on your way to work.
Although the options to create your own pro and its complementing Be a Pro mode are both missing in action, there’s still a lot of content to dribble through. Many different leagues are included, giving out their own unique championship trophies. A tally of your earned cups is kept at the main menu, alongside in-game achievements. Considering how lengthy each league season is, it’s doubtful that anyone will be able to earn every championship, so it’s the variety that counts. It’s nice to be able to pick from a host of different leagues, such as the premier European ones. However, most of my time was spent playing as (hometown) Toronto FC, of Major League Soccer.
In total, there are four main modes: the aforementioned league schedule, a separate cup championship option, a penalty shootout challenge and a practice arena. There is also a daily challenge mode, which puts players into high-intensity situations, with one specific goal. They’re the type of options one would expect in a game based on this sport, without any surprises to be found. In this portable version, tried and true works well.
The practice mode gives you a full team to work with, against one opposing goaltender. That allows you to practice some of the intricate special moves which can be pulled off, using a variety of button combinations. Movement takes a little while to get used to, using the left touch pad to give players direction commands, with the right shoulder button making them sprint. The adjoining right touch pad can be swiped in different directions, in order to do special dribbles and the like – some of which happen to be a bit tough to control at times, unless you’re a seasoned pro. Other combinations can result in lob passes, hard passes and other special moves. They’re easier to get the hang of, and work well.
Working with a touchscreen-enabled cellphone has allowed Electronic Arts to add in some new touch control options. Sometimes they’re better to use than the standard options, but that’s only when things have slowed down a bit. For example, being able to tap a player to throw or kick the ball to after an out, is certainly helpful. As is the option to swipe left or right to move your block groups. Also, giving players a chance to swipe the ball towards the goal during a penalty shot, was a welcomed change from pressing a button and a directional command. It was during those times when the touchscreen became a great asset, though there are some downsides to this scheme. Using it for passes during regulation gameplay was a bit awkward. There were also odd times where the screen didn’t recognize my swipes right away, but those were far from game-breaking; nor were they prevalent.
With a combination of those two different control options, FIFA 12 controls surprisingly well, being that it’s a cellphone game. Being new to the Xperia PLAY, it took me a bit of time to get used to how the touch pad worked, but it became old hat after a little while. Once I got the hang of things, the game controlled with a quality amount of precision and I didn’t have any issues putting a cleat to the ball. Having precision controls in a soccer game is imperative. If it wasn’t available here, the experience wouldn’t have been nearly as intuitive or as entertaining.
Presentation-wise, this release is a treat. Its visuals are sharp with a quality amount of detail found in its player models and its stadiums. This quality carries over into the audio department, where the game sounds great. Its announcing duo is used less than in its high-definition counterpart, but they still do a pretty solid job of keeping you informed. Their accompanying sound effects and crowd chants are also very well-composed (and boisterous,) although the game’s licensed soundtrack is what is most impressive. It’s very high-quality, with some catchy songs that play with impressive fidelity.
Overall, FIFA 12 on Xperia PLAY is a very impressive shot into the net. The team behind it has proven its ability to make a great sports game work on a portable phone. Although there are a couple of issues with its touchscreen control registration, as well as a special move system that happens to be occasionally cumbersome, it’s still very easy to pick-up and play. Once I picked this game up, it was hard to put it down. Hardcore footie fans may not do so until their phone battery runs out.
This review is based on a copy of the game which was supplied to us for review purposes.
Electronic Arts has done a great job of translating the FIFA 12 experience to this powerful mobile phone. It looks great and plays quite well, delivering an addicting experience with great replay value.