You've got to really want a portable soccer match really, really bad to appreciate FIFA Soccer by EA. Even then it's doubtful you'll appreciate it when you see just how flawed this game is.

FIFA Soccer for the PSP has bit off more than it can chew. I can't help but get mad at the fact that this game is simply loaded with features and modes but suffers from poor controls. It's definitely quantity over quality as it attempts to compete with its PS2 counterpart. Sure, I would still probably bitch about the lack of modes if some were left out to better facilitate the gameplay but I just have to shake my head when I can view music videos in a soccer game that I can barely play.

My complaints stem from the control system. It's unresponsive, causing timing delays that require you to choose your actions well before they actually appear onscreen making this more of a game of strategy than reflex. Basic running and passing moves aren't so bad but some of the advanced moves such as the First Touch which was implemented in last year's PS2 version requires the skills of a prestidigitator to execute.

The right thumb moves the nub that substitutes for the analog stick which you will use to move the player around the field. The other thumb presses buttons for passes and then quickly shifts to the D pad to activate the First Touch which is supposed to replicate spontaneous passing so as to out-maneuver your opponent. This lack of precise control degenerates further when you enter in the Head-to-Head mode.

Other problems such as inopportune loads help to stall the pace. You'll encounter these when the ball goes out of bounds, or I should say before the ball goes out of bounds as it loads up the next sequence before it completes the previous one. It just gives the game an unpolished feel. I can take the static, unmoving crowds, the fixed camera perspectives and the lack of a Franchise mode but only for the sake of a solid gameplay core.

FIFA Soccer is loaded with features such as a FIFA store, trophy room, all licensed leagues and players, and Scenario, Challenge and Multi-player modes. A lot of stuff is packed into this title but at what expense? The graphics don't look much better than you average PSX game. They are prone to alaising and flickering which make them look really rough. The players animate decently but with such low resolution you have to really use your imagination to make out their likeness.

As I mentioned there's music. Lot of tunes including some videos will have you rocking but it's not enough compensation. I can see videos and listen to music for free, thank you very much. The announcing is good but it's limited. If you're new to the game of soccer you'll likely benefit from the play by play as you realize that some of your moves actually have names.

Despite all of the window dressing, FIFA Soccer is a very basic game. It's got more in common with FIFA 2003 and I don't want to spend my money on something that's already been done, and not done very well.

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System: PSP
Dev: EA Canada
Pub: EA
Release: Mar 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Dean