Viva Las Vita

Between the end of PES2012 and the beginning of FIFA12, a breathing space. I have started a new Career Mode in FIFA12, but not got very far. I’m still in the first transfer period of the first season. Gaming time has been very limited over the past few days, and there are other distractions (see below).

I am already missing the crazy bizarro world of Master League, for what it’s worth. ML’s fantasy football element is roundly mocked in some quarters, but is really its secret strength.

But FIFA12’s Career Mode has come a long way this year. And, in its own way, the CM world can be just as fantastical. I’ll tell all on Monday.

The PlayStation Vita (or PSP2, as at least I would’ve been happy to call it) arrived last Tuesday. Delivered by a man who seemed to be driving his own car. He was wearing a yellow hi-visibility waistcoat, as if that automatically made him official. Which I suppose it did.

The Vita is an amazing little piece of kit. First of all, it’s very light, and surprisingly thin. It is very w–i–d–e, which accounts for all the pre-release grumbles about its size.

Setup was a pain in the arse, due to a Day 1 system update and some bad design of the setup process. Setup wanted me to login to PlayStation Network using my existing ID, but it wouldn’t allow me to log in until I’d installed the system update, and I couldn’t install system update without logging into PSN… Fuck’s sake!

There was no way out of the trap. In the end I had to set up a new PSN account in order to get access to System Update, allow the Vita to update itself, and then login to PSN with my proper ID. Whoever designed the Vita setup process thing needs to get together with whoever designed PES2012’s shooting and whoever designed PES2012’s Master League. And all go to live on an island together somewhere. (What if they’re all the same person?!)

It was worth it. The screen pops right out at you. Remember how amazing the PSP was—a PS2 in your hands? Well, the Vita really is more of the same, only this time of course, it’s a PS3 nestling snugly in your hands.

I got FIFA Soccer and Uncharted with the Vita. What I didn’t get was a memory card, assuming that a basic one would come with it, and that I didn’t need one to play the games anyway. The Vita’s games, if you didn’t already know, are on little micro SD-like cards. I assumed that, like the DS, the games would record save data onto the cards themselves…

And some do do that. FIFA does it. Uncharted, alas, does not. I had to hurriedly mail-order a Vita memory card, which is due to arrive sometime Friday.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing FIFA Soccer. It’s pretty good, you know, but looked at dispassionately, forgetting that it’s running on a handheld, it’s not the greatest footy game in the world. It’s as close to FIFA11 as it is to FIFA12—and I disliked FIFA11. The old-school FIFA defensive ‘system’ (if it could be called that) consisted of squeezing one (at most two) buttons and waiting for the ball to be returned to your possession. Literally, that’s all it took. It’s the same on the Vita.

FIFA Soccer on the Vita is what I think of as a typical launch-day football game. It’s pretty good, and there’s a great deal of novelty in seeing it run on this hardware, but it won’t last me a long time.

Here’s my first goal, played in my traditional opening football game match, England vs Scotland:

In truth I can’t wait for my memory card to get here so I can play Uncharted and start moving my PSP purchases onto the console. And what will PES2012(PSP) run like on Vita? There might be more Master League coming my (and the blog’s) way sooner than I think, you know…

Ah, but now I am playing FIFA12 on the Xbox360 as my main football game. I have commenced Career Mode. It is going well. All will be revealed on Monday.

19 Comments

  1. Speaking of good hand held games, i’ve got one called Dream League Soccer on the iPhone. It’s surprisingly addictive with a hint of Master League about it.

  2. Liam—thanks for the tip, I just took a look. It’s a proper live-action game—I thought it was going to be a hands-off sim-type of thing. I tend to struggle with football games on the touchscreen.

  3. that carpet could do with a good hoover, not-greg

    On the Vita, have you read much about Gravity Daze? It sounds excellent, the first really interesting new title for the device – hopefully we’ll see more of this sort of original content

  4. abbeyhill—I’d hoover the carpet, but all the wires and plugs are in the way.

    Every so often I do restore order to that section of floor, but within a day or two, all the tangle is back. It’s like when you neatly fold away a set of earphones into your coat pocket. Next time you get them, they’re knotted up in inexplicable ways.

    I hadn’t heard about that game you mention—will investigate.

    The Vita memory card came this morning. It really opens up the full potential of the system, not least porting over all your old games from PSP. Which look great, needless to say, on the bigger and better screen. PES2012 is brilliant on the Vita! Now that I’ve started playing FIFA12 full-time, I can’t have FIFA Vita’s alternate controls messing with my muscle memory, so it looks as if PES2012 will be my handheld game.

  5. Sounds like Eurogamer’s review of FIFA Soccer was pretty spot on then, they were bemoaning the return of ‘The old-style defending, rushing players by holding X and square’.

    How are you finding FIFA 2012 (360) CM, I haven’t played FIFA since 2010’s buggy MM… but have been umming and ahhing over FIFA 12 for a while. I still have far too many games which have had far too little play.

  6. Is the vita region locked? would love to play little kings story on it. How do you get pes2012 on vita. excuse my ignorance folks havent read up on the vita too much

  7. Pete—it’ll be a week or two before I commit to any kind of thumbs-up/down/sideways on any aspect of FIFA12. I remember being burned by FIFA10 too. But right now I’m enjoying FIFA12’s gameplay (the shooting is a joy, needless to say). CM is currently in the ‘quite good’ category—it’s very polished, which many use as a stick to beat FIFA and EA with, but I don’t. I don’t think there’s any danger of CM ever displacing ML in my affections. Considering where we’ve come from with CM/MM since FIFA08, it’s progress.

    FIFA Soccer on the Vita is a missed opportunity IMO. EA should have pulled out all the stops to go with Tactical Defending, and the fact that they didn’t worries me. The kids cried so much about the pressure button being nerfed that something tells me EA are about to reinstate it.

    Tactical Defending, if you haven’t experienced it yet, emphasises containment and positioning, and de-emphasises raw strength and button-pressure automation. It’s by no means perfect, in fact sometimes it can be damn awkward and frustrating, but it’s a mighty step up from the deadness of sprint-clamp as seen in FIFA11 and before—and now, sadly, in Vita FIFA. A shame. It’s still a decent footy game (I got it for free with my Vita from ShopTo—that helps to ease the pain, of course), but still a shame about the defending.

  8. leroy getz—the Vita is not region locked, no. There’s no Vita version of PES out yet, so the PES2012 that I’m playing on it is the PSP version, which you have to buy from the PS Store. The VIta is back-compatible with most PSP titles. The upscaling makes them look about 15% better on the larger hi-def screen. PES2012 plays really well. I will say though that I might have had a few instances of wonky central shooting earlier… This is PES2012, so you never know. More investigation needed.

  9. Finally you switch to fifa 12! I remember I said to myself when playing pes12 in 5th or 6th season on pro that it would be nearly impossible to finish in CL zone. I finished in EL zone and gave up in the middle of the next season and now I see how you achieved pretty much the same result. I did not play for a while but now reading your blog I will be back again to play fifa12 if I get time.

  10. Yeah EA said they started developing FIFA for Vita halfway while developed FIFA’12, so they weren’t able to bake in the new elements of FIFA’12 into the Vita game, hence the reason they opted to remove the “12” moniker from the title.

    Regarding Uncharted, you might be disappointed with the graphics. It’s running at a lower-than-native resolution of the VITA, and has no anti-aliasing (unlike, say, Virtua Tennis; see: http://geekrevolt.com/2011/12/29/uncharted-golden-abyss-isnt-vitas-best-looking-game/ ).

    Hopefully with the next generation of VITA games, devs will be able to better utilize the Quad-core beast.

  11. andy—I believe I would have played much the same last season on PES2012 over and over again. The nature of the game on Professional (for me anyway) is to hold me in place. There was little sense of the traditional incremental progress.

  12. TareX—I’m a gadgets junkie and I’m very happy with the Vita so far, whether its current games really exploit the hardware or not. It’s a tradition for a new console’s games to be ropy in a number of areas.

    It is very unfortunate about FIFA on the Vita—a sideways step for the series IMO, arguably a backward one. It is still very compelling as a football game, but now that I’m a couple of solid days into FIFA12 on the 360, I feel the handheld Vita ‘version’ (FIFA11.5, of course) lacks the sophistication that marks FIFA12 out as a step forward.

  13. I’ve got one of those gaming hang-overs today. You know the feeling when you are sitting at work wondering why on Earth you were stupid enough to stay up ’til 2am playing a video game?

    Anyway, the game was FIFA12 and the late night/early morning was all down to a horrible run in my career mode. Having been four points outside the playoffs I’m now at the Jan transfer window closer to relegation than promotion. I jus couldn’t win. But I feel like the problem was me rather than a PES12 AI warp.

    I’ll crack on tonight and hope to turn things round although I am tempted to try and free things up a bit. What do you guys have the marking slider set at?

  14. John—is it too early for me to break out the complaints about scripting?! I have to say, I’ve had the most awful run myself, with goals inexplicably drying up. However, this has coincided with a fixture pile-up in mid-season and a lot of fatigue. I only have a few good players anyway, and they’ve either played on half-stamina or been left out due to no stamina. Something similar possibly affecting you and causing your bad run?

  15. N-G: I’ve heard the scripting talk and hope it’s not down to that (there is some in most games I think). I think I’ve been rushing in on my defending which often happens when I play really late when I’m tired.

    I also need to take my chances much better. I missed some sitters last night.

  16. John—I tend to spam the ‘stab-tackle’ button when I feel frustrated, and the CPU most often just sidesteps with ease. Not that it often has to avoid my clumsy efforts… A lot of the time I stab-tackle thin air, yards away from any CPU player or the ball! I need more practise with the full range of Tactical Defending approaches.

  17. yes, I’ve had these mid-season slumps on FIFA too. I suspect it’s caused by a mixture of scripting, the AI neutralising your formation, bad weather (usually rainy in mid-season, which makes it feel sluggish and unresponsive) and the ensuing frustration affecting my play – too impatient, trying to force things too much. So I’d recommend experimenting with different formations to try to create more space, and focus on the gameplay basics, just enjoying passing the ball about and waiting for something to open up. But there is still scripting there (maybe less blatant than PES) that you can’t do much about

  18. and also try a few long balls now and again, they seem to free things up compared to just playing lots of short passes into the feet of your heavily marked forwards

  19. abbeyhill—cheers for the tips, glad it’s not just my paranoid imaginings. As others have said, ‘scripting’ of some sort, however we want to describe it, may be an inevitability in human vs CPU footy gaming, but it doesn’t have to rub our noses in it—as has been the case in PES in recent years. I hope FIFA’s version remains more subtle.

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