Before we launch into a review of the Electronic Arts’ (EA) latest edition to the popular portable football franchise, let us consider the challenge involved in crunching the sport into the screen real estate of your PlayStation Portable or PSP.

The average football field is around a 100m long and 60m wide. I say “around" because football is not just the “beautiful game" but also—and not too many people know this—a flexible game which gives you much freedom when it comes to playing field size. And surely you know that the PSP is 17cm long and 7.3 m wide. Which means—multiply by this, carry over that, add the two there—you can fit around half-a-million PSPs on a football field.

Pocket football: The PSP version packs in enough to make it a good buy.

Veteran gamers—basically anyone older than 25—will remember the good old days of football gaming on the Sega Genesis or Nintendo Gameboy. The games, which were either ludicrously easy or thumb-sprainingly hard, came with one of two camera perspectives. The first was the laughable top-down view where the football bounced from one animated head to another animated head. The other was the more realistic but mildly disorienting three-quarters angle where large footballs were lobbed around by small-headed sprites. Or vice versa.

Over the ages, consoles such as the PlayStation (1, 2 and 3) and Xbox have managed to somewhat make amends with fluid camera movements and better graphics. And EA, with a few minor shortcomings, has managed to transport the game to the PSP’s 4.3 inch screen as well.

Through clever use of camera angles and some interesting innovations, playing Fifa 2009 on PSP proves to be an enjoyable experience. Yes, when it comes to basic playing modes, Fifa 2009 sticks to the formula of years before.

But what probably vouches for an upgrade to this latest edition are the three modes that have been introduced in this year’s version. The first is the Smart Play mode which lets novices play with just a couple of key presses.

Also notable is the Football IQ 2.0 football quiz packed with tons of questions, many fiendishly difficult. The questions are tailored according to preferences you make in your profile, such as your favourite club, and are fun to play when you want a break from the passing and shooting.

But the highlight of Fifa 2009 is the Be A Pro mode which debuts on the PSP. Here you get to choose to be a single player for a team and control only that player, like real life football. You then need to play your way through a career achieving certain goals in each match. Starting with simple goals—make a lob pass and two through balls—to ultimately managing the whole team. It is a refreshing mode and will be a breath of fresh air to those who’ve mastered the vanilla gaming.

Even if you own previous versions of the game, for these three modes, and especially for Be A Pro, Fifa 2009 vouches a look-see.

Platform: PC, Mobile phone, N-Gage 2.0, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox 360, Rs999.