When FIFA International Soccer was released in 1993, who would have believed that the football market would have exploded into the massive scene that it is today. In constant rivalry with Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, FIFA has had to improve each and every facet of its gameplay in order to gain a foothold on such a tightly contested sub-genre.
After FIFA 09 indisputably took the mantel as best football game last year, does FIFA 10 live up to all its expectations? Have the developers truly listened to the fans as they claimed they would? And have we witnessed the greatest football title of our time?
A thousand times: yes! Never before have I encountered a football sports title that exudes such depth, realism, and sheer entertainment. The folks over at EA Vancouver were pimping this game just a day after FIFA 09 hit the shelves, and they have not only made themselves proud, but their fans as well.
The first feature to mention is the one that has been touted throughout every EA marketing campaign over the past few months. 360-degree ball control is phenomenal. Never has a gamer had so much control over their footballer, and never has a counterattack felt so authentic, as with complete ball control. You will find yourself constantly dribbling down the sideline, only to accidentally knock the ball out of play every once in a while. Rather than being frustrated, it is exhilarating to know that these are the sort of things that happen in real games, and that you are actually experiencing a realistic match.
The problem with FIFA 09 was that it became too simple. On World Class, you could win basically every match with a half-decent team, while Legendary was far too difficult for anyone who wasn’t playing as Manchester United or Barcelona. FIFA 10 finds a happy medium between the two by forcing you to alter your team from game-to-game in order to keep players happy. The opposition will do the same, and it’s nice to see that in cup matches plenty of inexperienced and lower ranked players are given a run, a feature that was extremely frustrating in FIFA 09, especially if you sold a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, and then saw him relegated to reserves for the rest of the season.
Training makes its long-awaited return with this latest release, and it is a feature that is truly integral to anyone who wishes to compete at the highest difficulties or in online tournaments. Corners, free kicks, and penalties can all be simulated, but there’s nothing quite like playing a 5-on-5 practice match on a full-size pitch. The standard shooting and free kick programming has been tweaked, so fans of the genre will definitely need to have a run around in practice to find their bearings again.
The biggest difference, however, is Manager Mode. I remember watching a 30-minute video with one of the producers on FIFA 10, and the only thing he spoke about for the entirety of the speech was the revamped Manager Mode. The difficulty may be greater, but the depth, realism, and sheer number of options you have at your fingertips is staggering. Transfers are more realistic, with fewer big-name players asking to leave five-star clubs, and if you are looking to purchase, say a striker, you can put a bid in for any number of players, and then select the best ones that have accepted your request.
While Manager Mode is the core of FIFA 10, especially for hardcore fans, Be A Pro is one of the newer additions that seems to be getting better with every annual release. Some fine-tuning here and there can be seen throughout a season, but there is not much of a difference to previous Be A Pro gameplay.
Instead of an overhaul of this feature, EA Vancouver decided to create the Virtual Pro; your very own created player that can be used in every single FIFA 10 game mode, from online play to Manager Mode. There is a vague RPG undertone to Virtual Pro that allows you to level-up your player, which is sure to appeal to the younger crowd who may one day dream of playing on the main stage themselves.
Online matches are just as thrilling as ever, and there’s nothing like jumping into a new FIFA title against another player who is also relearning the controls. FIFA 09 suffered from noticeable lag during large-scale Be A Pro matches, and this latest edition has shown a marked improvement. While there will also be a slightly delayed response from when your thumbs brushes the B-button to when Rooney scores a goal, I never found myself frustrated by my team not responding to commands, as I did in FIFA 09.
There is no doubt that FIFA 10 was created with single-player in mind, but there are more than enough features for the multiplayer fan to enjoy, including old favorites like Kick-Off and Lounge Mode.
I’m normally sick and tired of hearing Martin Tyler and Andy Gray’s repetitive, often dreary, commentary day-in and day-out, so I switched over to Spanish commentary for the last month of my FIFA 09 experience; nothing beats a Spanish commentator’s goal celebration. However, with FIFA 10, I have found myself unable to switch off the English commentary. The reason? I’m still hearing new and useful comments from the two men I love to hate. Tyler and Gray have a spiel for almost every team in the English Premier League, long chats about their football and commentary pasts, and even informative in-game comments like speculating how the transfer window will affect clubs in the future.
The music is so-so, and in my opinion has fallen away since FIFA 06, but you won’t be buying FIFA 10 simply for the music, will you?
It’s safe to say that this is the greatest football game to ever be developed, and in my opinion, the greatest sports title. Period. Never have I been so immersed in the realism, infatuated by the depth, and truly excited by the prospect of playing another match. FIFA 10 has elevated my love for football to stellar heights, and it spins me out to even contemplate FIFA 11.
This game was created with love and passion for the world game. Enjoy it.
Far and away the best-looking football game to date. The professionals are incredibly detailed, kits and sponsors are spot on, and the menu interfaces are crisp and pleasing to the eye.
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Never has there been such an instinctive football engine, as there is with FIFA 10. Your players do exactly what you tell them to do, and each match finally plays out like a realistic game of football.
While the EA Trax are nothing spectacular, the in-game sound effects, coupled with several hours worth of outstanding commentary, adds that extra element of realism to an already spectacular game.
There is literally no end to this game. Manager Mode alone is 15 seasons long, not to mention Be A Pro, Tournaments, Lounge Mode, and the countless online opportunities.
EA Vancouver has achieved something that many believed the FIFA franchise never could. This title is a credit to the gaming community, a standout in the development world, and should be experienced by anyone who appreciates brilliance.