I stare at the word that I’ve just thumbed, my head on fire. Moments ago, my opponent – we’ll call him T – quit our match. I was winning 3-0. My goals were fair, scored from outside the 18-yard box. T must have thought Barcelona FC had a chance against Brazil’s national team.
Now I touch the return button. I haven’t sent the word yet. Maturity gives me pause, and I ponder the point of such an insult. It won’t change the outcome of the game, nor will it give me a true win, in several senses of the word. Plus, I’m not even sure if my opponent will read it. I suspect that T’s probably in the thick of another game, hoping someone will let Messi score a hat trick.
You see, my opponent is a rage quitter, or one who quits when they’re losing. Players of this sort often try turning off the game – in which it says that we have “lost connection” – before it records the match. The act of rage quitting is still an issue in EA’s FIFA series, as well as other competitive sports games. It’s one reason I often quit playing online and feel compelled to send nasty messages through my Vita’s Group Messaging app.
I look at the word again. I take a deep breath, and I delete it.
Do I need to say anything?
Yes, I do. “Wuss.” I press the send button and exhale. The fire has left my skull.
At this point, I reconnect to EA’s servers. This time I opt for the “Match Lobbies” instead of “Quick Ranked Match.” This is where you can find the preset rooms “Ranked #1,” “Practice #1” (unranked matches) and “Manual Only,” a sort of no-player’s land. I’m surprised that few people – usually 6-8 – are in the first two rooms. Aren’t there hundreds of online players waiting to practice or rank up?
When I enter Ranked #1, I’m immediately invited to three games. I accept an invite from someone we’ll call Claudio. Our first match is fast, aggressive, and, best of all, complete. He wins 1-4, defeating the US national team with Mexico’s Club Universidad Nacional A.C.. We agree to rematch. He wins again, but the victory is narrow – a 3-2 final in overtime.
I open my Group Messaging app again and thumb a message to Claudio. “Excellent games. You play hard and fair.”
I hope he agrees.
When I close out, I start reflecting on the rest of FIFA 13, a trimmed version of its PS3 relative. This edition’s aesthetics and gameplay are alarmingly similar to last year’s “FIFA Soccer” for Vita. It has “Career Mode,” “Tournaments,” Pro modes that situate you with one player/goalkeeper … just look at the criticism here and elsewhere. (Wired had this to say about the Wii version.) A big disappointment is the fact that the Vita version lacks “cross-play,” or functionality that connects you with those who play the PlayStation 3 version.
Still, I enjoy it, just like I’ve enjoyed every iteration of FIFA soccer games. The graphics pop and flow seamlessly on my handheld device, only hiccuping briefly when me or an opponent has a wavering internet connection. Basically, when I’m not worried about the extra features or pissed about rage quitters, I truly do feel like I’m playing it on my console. I stay up late playing because I’m addicted to its quality and strong push for competition.
But here’s a criticism that I’m not seeing so much among the gripes about FIFA 13: Career Mode could use thorough game recaps and news items under its “Latest News” feed. As I’ve noticed in previous editions, those are limited to one, maybe two sentences, and they offer nothing meaningful. Example: “All was even as Columbus Crew and Dinamo Moskva played to a 2-2 draw in a hotly contested match.” Tell me about the gossip across the MLS. Tell me about other leagues. Analyze me, and do it well.
I load the game the next following morning and look at my stats. And I smile. It turns out that the game recorded my win against T. Score!
Then I check Group Messaging. There’s a message from T.
FIFA 13 PS VITA is praiseworthy and flawed.
This review is based off an PS Vita copy of the game provided by the publisher.
About the Author:
Rich Shivener is the Lead Editor of Bit Creature. He is also a writer, instructor and iPad whisperer from the shores of Northern Kentucky. You can find him in Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest, among other places.
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