EA Sports FIFA 10 is arguably the greatest soccer video game ever made. It shines in terms of presentation, graphics, menus, licenses and most importantly gameplay. Many would argue that it has long surpassed archrival series Pro Evolution Soccer. Now in a World Cup year, EA Sports builds on FIFA 10 with the equally magnificent 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
I’ve been playing 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa on PS3 since its release last week. Given that it’s been only six months since the release of FIFA 10, I was curious to see what improvements the development team at EA Sports could conjure up to celebrate the world’s greatest sporting event. I was not disappointed.
While gameplay makes a soccer video game great, presentation essential to its overall experience. The FIFA series has long excelled in this aspect and continues to do so with 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The overall feel of the game’s navigation via its menu system remains very much like that of FIFA 10 but with a feel that emphasizes the African location of this year’s World Cup. Coupled with a rocking soundtrack featuring anthems such as K’Naan’s Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix) and Michael Franti and Spearhead’s Say Hey, you’ll be pumped for some gaming action shortly after the quick load period of the game.
Before playing a game of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, you’ll enjoy some brilliant pregame scenes. All of the stadiums to be used for FIFA World Cup 2010 (including surroundings such as mountains) are in the game in vibrant detail. Throw in prematch fireworks, confetti and abbreviated national anthems, authentic national team chanting and detailed, close-up fan animation and extensive team celebrations and a true FIFA World Cup feel is present.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa offers enough offline and online game modes to keep even the hardcore soccer video gamers busy throughout the summer of 2010. Included are the single player Captain Your Country, the online Battle of Nations and the lovely Story of Qualifying (where you relive keys moments in the World Cup qualifying process). My favorite was the core of the game — the actual FIFA World Cup tournament in South Africa in which you could go straight to the tournament as a qualified team or go through the qualification process as any of FIFA’s 199 member nations. The nine division league online in which you could earn promotion or be relegated based on your season results was instantly addictive.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is essentially FIFA 10 v1.5 in terms of gameplay. It does nothing groundbreaking with the FIFA 10 gameplay engine other than introduce a few welcome tweaks. I found these to be:
- Better off the ball runs — Whereas in FIFA 10 frontmen were often left to battle defenders on their own, more support is offered to forwards in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa from midfielders and wingbacks. For instance, starting Brazilian forwards Robinho and Luis Fabiano can count on Kaka running up the middle and Maicon finding space on the wings on a regular basis.
- Easier skills moves — FIFA 09 and FIFA 10 introduced a slew of nifty skills moves to the FIFA series. However, I found them difficult to pull of with the L2 / right joystick combination required to use them. While this skills move configuration remains in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa trick moves are now somewhat easier to execute. This is particularly the case with players known for fancy footwork such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.
- Intensity — If you’re a veteran of the FIFA series, you’ll be aware of the added intensity that comes when playing knockout tournaments such as the English FA Cup or Spanish Copa del Rey in the game. Now increase the intensity by a notch for the world’s foremost soccer tournament and you have an idea of what the gameplay of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is like. Players are more physical than ever, losing teams change their strategies to become more attacking in search of tying goals and winners, referees do not give always give fouls and crowd support is more vocal than ever.
- Restrained goalies — One major complaint of FIFA 10 was the tendency of goalkeepers to rush at oncoming attackers and leave their nets open. This has been addressed in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa with goalies staying on their line unless the player invokes a goalkeeper rush function.
- Coach Cam – Coaches are stars in the FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa gives them some much-needed attention. All of the tournament’s current coaches are featured in pregame, in-match and post-game animation. In the case of well-known managers such as Englans’s Fabio Capello and Brazil’s Dunga, some of their touchline mannerisms are captured.
- New Penalty Kick System — Once again the FIFA penalty kick system has been reengineered. It is now back to its analogue roots but has new features such as the ever popular stutter step and cheeky chip. These are easy to pull off in Amateur and Semi-Pro modes but much more difficult to successfully execute in Professional mode and up. The satisfaction of converting one of these penalties is immense, however, against a human opponent when playing online.
Areas for Improvement
The FIFA series owes much of its improvement over the years to input from its user base. EA Sports has incorporated many recommendations from online reviews and gaming forums to make bring the series to its current level of greatness. While EA Sports 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is an excellent game, here is where it can be made even better:
- Player Pools — With online 36 players per national team to choose your FIFA World Cup qualification or Finals squad from, the player pools offered in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa are too shallow. Where would this leave Argentine coach Diego Maradona who has used over 70 players in recent times?
- Accurate Kits — As a fan of the art of soccer kit design, I was happy to see most of the latest national team kits from manufacturers like adidas , Nike and Puma in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. It was also great to see gamers being given the option to use the now retired kits that many teams used in the World Cup qualification process. However, there are instances in which even teams qualified for the World Cup do not yet have their current kits. This is the case with North Korea and Honduras. I trust that EA Sports will have an online software update pushed to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa user base with the latest kits updates before the World Cup kicks off. It would also be great to see the real kits used for all 199 teams in the game. Check out our website at www.footballfashion.org to find most of these.
- Player Likenesses — While player face and physiques are spot on for major world soccer powers such as England, France and Spain, they are not for other nations. I was sorely disappointed with those used for the USA national team where the player likenesses could best be described as “approximate” except in the case of defender Oguchi Onyewu who looks absolutely nothing like the real player.
Authenticity: 9 /10
Gameplay: 9.5 /10
Graphics: 9 /10
User Interface: 9.5 / 10
Online Features: 10 / 10
Longevity: 8 / 10