Another year and another FIFA football game from the folks at EA Sports. In recent years EA has pushed the series to new heights and I was very keen to see what they had in store for us with FIFA 10. Would it be a case of new stats, new box and same game, or have they got something special to show us?
FIFA 10 has some obvious graphical improvements over last year’s FIFA 09, but it’s pretty clear that EA Canada has also been tampering under the hood. Match play seems to flow a lot better than before, the players transitioning between actions without a pause. Player movements are loose, relaxed and, as a result, more convincing. This fluidity comes from the new 360-degree dribbling system that gives a more realistic control over the ball, creating better opportunities on the pitch. Coupled with the awesome way that players jostle together to steal and shield the ball, FIFA 10 gives us a very natural-looking ball game.
Easing myself back into the FIFA experience, I chose my home country, England, against what I thought would be an easy opponent, New Zealand. My arrogance was rewarded with a crushing defeat, the Kiwis winning 2-0 against the overconfident Poms. Undeterred, I picked Arsenal, this time choosing a nation that really can’t play a game of football, the Americans. Arsenal vs. LA Galaxy seemed more like Arsenal vs. David Beckham. As Beckham tore around the pitch, his teammates did their best to kick the ball out of play, fumbling around like someone had tied their laces together.
The varying player skill levels, while realistic, are not so much fun in a two-player game. The skill level of individual players determines the range of special moves the player can perform. Tournaments with your mates can become very unbalanced, where top teams like Manchester United or Arsenal take on underdogs like Gillingham FC.
FIFA 10 offers you an overwhelming set of game options. We have the usual exhibition matches where you choose from club and international teams from around the world, with New Zealand being represented by Wellington Phoenix and the NZ national team.
Tournament mode lets you play real cup competitions and seasons from around the world as well the ability to create your own. Live Season 2.0 uses real-world stats updated weekly to enable you to play out actual fixtures, giving you the opportunity to rewrite history as it happens. Lounge mode makes setting up a tournament with some mates and some beers a doddle, providing one of the best ways of enjoying the game.
Be a Pro mode gives you one player of your choice to play either in a single match or in the Be a Pro Season that lets you take your player through four seasons. Virtual Pro takes this one step further, allowing you to add your EA Sports game face to a player, putting a digital recreation of yourself into the game.
For an additional challenge, Manager mode immerses you in the inner workings of a football club for 15 seasons. You are responsible for the club’s reputation, transfers and player development. Choices made before and after the game will determine your team’s performance on the field.
There are also a variety of online modes that were not available at review time. EA has told us that matchmaking has been improved and uses skill level and location to provide the best pairing of players. EA has also made improvements to the ranking system in order to make the online leaderboard fairer and more competitive.
FIFA 10 offers something for every level of football fan, from the casual player to the stats-hungry obsessive, capturing the subtleties and excitement of the beautiful game. Building on its previous successes in the FIFA series, EA Canada has given us what may be the most realistic football game to date.