FIFA 12 3DS review: We put PES 2011 3D's lack of online mode down to the pressures of getting the game ready for 3DS launch day, so it's bewildering to discover that FIFA 12 3DS is similarly lacking.
Whatever the reasons for this - EA Sports has cited a lack of demand and a preference for local multiplayer - to have a big-name football game arrive on a new console in 2011 without online play is bizarre.
Despite this huge gap in the overall package, FIFA 12 3DS is really impressive. In the absence of online play, there are tournaments, cups, leagues, an in-depth career option, street matches and the Be A Pro mode - an arsenal of gameplay styles which puts PES 2011 3D's meagre gameplay options (and licences, for that matter) to shame.
Ever woken up in the middle of the night with an insatiable desire to guide SC Wiener Neustadt to glory in the Austrian OFB-Samsung cup? That dream is now a reality.
For solo players, Career mode is predictably comprehensive, although the transfer system might be a little basic for some. Your team's budget can be sunk into training, stadium improvements and medical facilities too, should the mood take you.
Be A Pro is another rewarding single player option. It actually offers a greater sense of progression than the career mode, as there are incidental XP bonuses and conditions to meet as well as constantly changing locales.
Starting within the tighter confines of street matches, your fully customisable in-game self can work their way up from the five-a-side pitch to the heights of international football. Don't dismiss this one as a bolt-on spin-off mode - Be A Pro is in many ways FIFA 12 3DS's secret weapon.
Underpinning the impressive feature set is the game engine itself, which feels looser and more open than ever before. The pace is also much more considered than we're used to; manoeuvring lumbering giants like Andy Carroll about the place feels really sluggish, and even with the run button clamped down, quicker players still don't feel particularly electric.
FIFA 12 3DS largely concerns itself with the passing game. Counter attacking or cutting in from wide positions is usually the most effective form of attack.
It's in front of goal that FIFA 12's big 3DS-only gimmick comes into play - touch screen shooting. Step within around 35 yards of goal and the map on the touch screen switches to a shot of the net, upon which you can take aim.
From there it's down to each individual player's shooting stats whether your strike glides into the top corner as intended or spoons it embarrassingly into row Z. Inside the box, it's best to stick to the traditional button-press - taking your eye off the top screen to prod at the bottom screen usually results in an interception or a fluffed shot.
It's a slightly strange system, but it is useful for taking potshots from distance. Unless you're playing as the likes of Stevenage, in which case every shot is hacked into oblivion. Free kicks, corners and penalties are also handled down on the touch screen, with mixed results. Corners and free kicks, in particular, seem a little too random for our liking.
FIFA's generous set of game modes and play styles - Street football is another interesting diversion - place it head and shoulders ahead of PES where value for money is concerned. In a pure gameplay sense, though, the two games are a lot closer. FIFA is the more accessible option, while PES is more complex but far less polished overall. FIFA 12 just about takes the 3DS crown from PES, then. But with online play and a tighter, faster game engine, it would have been a comprehensive victory. As Arsenal fans are increasingly used to saying, maybe next year.
Want to know what the Wii version is like? Here's our FIFA 12 Wii review.