I first picked up the FIFA series back in the Sega Genesis days. When FIFA 1998 came out, it was the greatest thing ever for PS1. I continued playing the series year after year including the likes of them memorable FIFA 2003, the disappointing FIFA 2004, the vastly improved FIFA 07 and the now classic FIFA 09. All of the games were played on Playstation consoles. I ditched the PS1 in the FIFA 2002 days and picked up PS3 for FIFA 08.
I also got into the Konami Winning Eleven / Pro Evolution Soccer series starting with Winning Eleven 6 and played it up to Pro Evolution Soccer 2009. This was because of the disappointment of FIFA 2004. In fact, from 2004-2008, Pro Evolution Soccer was my game of choice. This changed when FIFA 09 trumped Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 in just about every aspect, including the all important gameplay.
I’ve been playing FIFA 10 over the past week or so. My exploits in the game so far have included an English FA Cup run, a U.S. Open Cup run, numerous online games, one English Premier League season and a series of exhibition matches. All offline games were played at Professional Level. The console used was a Sony Playstation 3.
This is my review of FIFA 10.
FIFA 10’s excellent menu system is not very much different from that of FIFA 09. A font change is visible as there are now more options to select from. Nevertheless, this is a case of if it’s current and working well, then why change it? The feel is definitely 2010 and it’s intuitive to use.
As usual, all of the extras we’ve come to expect from the FIFA series are there. That is, tons of licenses, real player names, proper and well done kits, realistic world cathedrals of footballs (e.g. the Santiago Bernabeu, Old Trafford and Allianz Arena) and a damned good soundtrack featuring some wicked reggae among other genres of music. New practice modes and set piece creators are available as well.
FIFA 10’s graphics have improved slightly over FIFA 09. The likenesses of star players to their real life counterparts have improved through more detailed facial features and physiques. The on the play field animation also appears to be slightly better than last year via the use of shadows.
Whereas in the past FIFA took up to three minutes to load from the time you started it, you can start playing a game in FIFA 10 within 90 seconds of selecting the game in the PS3 menu. All you’ve got to go through is the EA Sports splash and Wayne Rooney’s opening animation. Once in the arena, select your poison and you’re ready for kick-off within 30 seconds if you don’t spend any time adjusting your lineup and tactics.
Menus, music and licenses are nice but gameplay truly maketh a football video game and this is where FIFA 10 shines.
To the uninitiated or novice gamer, FIFA 10 may not seem that much different from FIFA 09 apart from the slightly faster on the pitch action. Indeed, it could very well be considered FIFA 09 2.0 and that’s a good thing considering the quality game that FIFA 09 turned out to be.
These are the gameplay features that make FIFA 10 a quality game and that have improved over FIFA 09.
Defense wins championships. It also wins out as best improvement for FIFA 10 in this writer’s opinion. Maybe that’s because I’m a defender by trade on the football field.
Nonetheless, the L2 or “stab” button works excellently this year for jockeying with attackers for the ball. Last year seemed hit or miss. However, in FIFA 10, L2 is a true play-disrupter for defending sides. Of course, the degree of success that one will have with it depends on the player used. For example, John Terry will easily win balls with the help of the L2 button while Ronaldinho won’t.
Another improvement in FIFA 10’s defensive realm is the urgency with which team’s defend. Bodies will hit the floor trying to block shots in FIFA 10 as they do on a weekly basis in leagues around the world. Players also seem more responsive when moving them to cut off anticipated passes and crosses.
Finally, referees are not as trigger happy on the cards as in the past. They’ll let you get away with aggressive play more often than before.
Offense with 360° Dribbling
FIFA 10 introduces 360° dribbling as opposed to 8, 16 or 32 position dribbling seem in past PES and FIFA games. This feature alone makes FIFA 10 better offensively as it permits players to pull off skills moves with much more ease than in FIFA 09. As you might expect, it also allows for better and easier movement around the field in almost true human fashion.
That said, the success of skill moves is often reflective of the real world. For instance, Cristiano Ronaldo can readily evade two Australian A-League defenders with fancy footwork in a friendly. If you try the same moves with him in a friendly versus say Liverpool, he ends up tackled to a stumble, on the floor and /or dispossessed.
Pass the ball! FIFA 10 features excellent off the ball movement by supporting players. Gone are the two attacker and one midfielder offensive matchups that punctuated previous FIFA incarnations. On a break, expect midfield and even wingback support if you’ve got players like Dani Alves and Patrice Evra on your team.
FIFA 10 is probably the most physical of the FIFA series. Midfield battles abound and are aided by the improved defending and player urgency mentioned before. This is particularly evident when football powerhouses (e.g. Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Arsenal, etc.) meet as is the case in the real world. Holding midfielders akin to Makalele, the Diarras and Mascherano are now more important than ever in winning the ball on defence and in supporting the back line.
Increased physicality is also experience in cup competitions when you’re playing lower division sides. For example, in an FA Cup match as Chelsea against Barnsley, the latter’s midfielders and defenders relied on aggressive play (including pull downs and frequent sliding tackles) quite often as they held on for a well-earned draw.
Online Features and Experience
FIFA 10 offers a slew of online options from the “put yourself in the game” new Virtual Pro mode (which lets you load your face onto a created player) to custom leagues to muti-player matches to good old-fashioned ranked one on one battles. In fact, FIFA 10 has so many online options that unless you’re a hardcore FIFA gamer, you’ll probably never use a bunch of them to any great extent. To steal EA Sports’ slogan, if it can be done online, It’s in the Game.
Once again where FIFA 10 excels online is in terms of the gameplay experience. In all of the games played online so far on FIFA 10, not one experienced any lag or gameplay degradation of any sort. It should also be noted that most online games were played between 8:00 and 11:00 PM ET. This is prime time for gamers in the Western Hemisphere.
Given the gameplay improvements mentioned above and the existence of human completion via the internet, online games in FIFA 10 are now more enjoyable and competitive than before.
The FIFA 11 Wish List
No football game is perfect as yet. While the throne once occupied by FIFA 98, Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 and FIFA 09 might now be owned by FIFA 10, the game can be improved further. This is my FIFA 11 Wish List that outlines how this can be done.
1. Manager Mode
Manager Mode has been revamped in FIFA 10. However, it is loaded with some faulty logic. This is particularly the case when using the Assistant Manager to make team decisions. He needs to be either fired or sent to management school.
2. Keeper Kits
Goalkeeper kits are often generic on less popular teams. While the outfield players may have actual kits on such sides, many goalies do not.
3. Club Championship Mode
Players of FIFA 2003 may remember this wonderful feature in which all of the big teams of European football battled it out for supremacy in a league format. It was the closest that the FIFA series ever had to the highly addictive Pro Evolution Soccer Master League. I say bring back the Club Championship Mode with management features included.
4. Classic Teams
Last seen in FIFA 2000 with the likes of Brazil 1970 and Japan 1988 included. It’s time to reintroduce them. Include France 1998 as well and EA Sports will give gamers an alternative to another Pro Evolution selling point that features all star teams like Classic England and Classic Italy.
5. International Tournaments
Yes they can be created as custom tournaments in FIFA 10. But that requires effort. Why not add in the Copa America, CONCACAF Gold Cup, etc. like in the past? We realize that EA Sports sells separate games for the big tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and Euros but what about the rest or even non-branded tournaments such as an “International Cup” and a “European Cup.”
6. UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup licenses
Konami has these for PES 2010. It would be great if FIFA 11 can have these as well. The experience of Europe’s foremost club competitions are unique and make for excellent gaming experiences.
Gameplay: 9.5 /10
Graphics: 9 /10
User Interface: 9.5 / 10
Online Features: 10 / 10
Longevity: 9 / 10