FIFA Soccer: The Best Vita Launch Title?
Producer Matt Prior tells us why EA Sports' latest could give Uncharted serious competition.
For many, it is a foregone conclusion that Uncharted: Golden Abyss will be the premier launch game for Sony's PlayStation Vita, and for good reason. The franchise continues to captivate fans the world over, and this new entry puts the system's most touted features on display. By all accounts, sales should meet and then exceed expectations.
That is, unless Electronic Arts' FIFA Soccer steals the spotlight. The publisher took the best elements from FIFA Soccer 12 (HD graphics, Be A Pro, Career) and then made the experience more casual friendly with touch screen passing and rear touch pad shooting.
The result is a sports game that could easily become Vita's must have title, or at least that's what Producer Matt Prior said in a recent interview.
After playing the game a few months ago, we have to admit, the guy has a point.
Uncharted seems to be the big dog when it comes to Vita launch games, but considering FIFA's popularity worldwide, do you feel this game has a chance to outsell the other launch titles?
Absolutely. FIFA is the biggest selling sports franchise of all time, and FIFA 12 has already sold ten million copies. With the quality we have achieved on Vita, I see no reason why it can't be the big Vita title. Interestingly, the VP of Epic games, Mark Rein, was recently quoted that he thinks FIFA will be the Vita's killer app, so let's hope he's right.
We can't help but notice EA calls this game FIFA Soccer instead of FIFA Soccer 12. What led to this decision? What are you trying to communicate to consumers?
We didn't call it FIFA 12 because we didn't want to set the expectation to consumers that it was an exact version of its console equivalent. We were in development at the same time as FIFA 12, and because of that, certain new features (tactical defending) were not technically feasible to incorporate given the timelines we were working with. There are lots of new features that are unique to the Vita version that the console equivalent doesn't have, so it's in no way inferior, just slightly different in certain aspects, hence the different name.
The 3DS FIFA has touch screen shooting. This FIFA has rear touch pad shooting. They're both the same, but also different. Which do you prefer, and how do these new methods of control change the FIFA experience?
The main goal of both touch screen shooting systems was to take some of the frustration out of FIFA and allow users to have control over shooting with a level of accuracy like never before, and both achieved that. Touch screen shooting removes any 'hit & hope' feeling that you get on consoles and enables users to place their shots exactly where they want. As a result, the game is so much more satisfying. I really like the way touch screen shooting came together on Vita because you can shoot while still looking at the game.
How important was it to put online play in this FIFA after not having it in the 3DS game?
It was very important, because we wanted to make this a very deep and engaging game right from launch. We obviously wanted to put online in 3DS as well, but various technical issues and short timelines meant we couldn't. For Vita, we had a little more time, so it was one of our highest priorities as online play on the consoles is now one of the most popular modes, so it was critical to us that we give Vita users that same experience.
What are you most proud of with FIFA Vita?
Getting the next gen experience on a hand held device without any loss of quality is probably the thing I am most proud of. That, coupled with the control improvements through touch screen means Vita represents a quantum leap forward for handheld gaming, and the level of quality that is now achievable is a very exciting landmark in gaming. FIFA gamers can now take a console quality level experience with them wherever they want, and that is a hugely exciting prospect.
Obviously, Konami is your biggest competitor with the Pro Evolution series. What makes the FIFA franchise superior?
Many things make FIFA a superior game, but I think at the core of it is the gameplay. Gameplay is king, and going back and re-writing the AI engine in the early stages of the next generation cycle on PS3 and X360 meant we could build the game we wanted, rather than build on an old engine with known issues, and I think that shines through with the quality of franchise. Innovation online is another area where I feel we have lead the way and continue to do so by some considerable distance.
Considering the touch controls and all the content in this game, where does this FIFA rank among the others, even the console titles?
One of the key things for us when designing FIFA for the Vita was ensuring we came up with a game that was both unique and utilized the features in a truly meaningful and game changing way. We did that by creating a number of key touch screen control features. Vita represents the most controllable version of FIFA ever, and as a result, one of the most satisfying, as scoring and passing now have a level of user control never before achieved. It also represents the largest feature set we have ever delivered on a handheld, and I think it offers something you can't get in the console equivalent, and because of that, I think it's right up there with the best of them.