There is one sports title in particular that has played a vital role in my gaming life, and I have found that it tends to have a similar bond with many of my friends. World Cup ’98 kept me glued to my PlayStation all those years ago, and I have yet to come across a World Cup game that can honestly be deemed its equal.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa attempts to do just that, and with the success of EA’s recent football iterations, it’s hard to doubt that it will be anything less than outstanding. It’s time to bust out the vuvuzela – the World Cup is coming.
For the past few years, the visual and gameplay aspects of FIFA titles have been noticeably improved in each successive release. FIFA 10 looked and played far better than FIFA 09, and FIFA 11 is likewise expected to build upon last year’s offering. While World Cup South Africa cannot boast the same concise player creations apparent in FIFA 10, the developers have tweaked gameplay to be just that little bit more realistic and enjoyable.
When you initially load up the game, you will be evaluated on past performances in previous FIFA titles, before being offered a playing difficulty that the game deems you can handle. One major addition to World Cup South Africa is the implementation of a two-button control system. Using just the Pass and Shoot buttons, the basic setup allows non-gaming friends and family members to enjoy their very own World Cup experience without having to sift through a lengthy booklet.
The majority of World Cup South Africa players will want to jump straight into the tournament, but there are several other notable additions to the game that make it more than worth its economical price.
Story of Qualifying allows you to relieve poignant moments over the past couple of years during the World Cup qualification process. Given a wide selection of matches and tasks to complete, it is your duty to make an impact on all six football confederations. As you complete specific missions, you will be rewarded with points that can be spent unlocking new World Cup episodes. Gain 10,000 points and you will be able to open up an entire new selection of tasks from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. In addition, throughout this year’s World Cup, DLC for specific events in South Africa will be made available to gamers in the Story of Qualifying.
Another cool feature that has been resurrected for World Cup South Africa is Captain Your Country. Falling into the same genre of gameplay as Be A Pro in FIFA titles, CYC puts you at the helm of your nation. You are given the option to create a character, take control of a real player, or even import your own Virtual Pro from FIFA 10 – a nice touch.
Now, onto the meat of the game. The way EA has developed the tournament mode has several extreme highs, but also a few disappointing lows. With the release date of this game so close to the World Cup itself, I was surprised to see so many players from the Australia squad missing – most obvious were the omissions of Adam Federici, Nikita Rukavytsya and Tommy Oar. Still, there are a wealth of teams available, and while I raised a couple of eyebrows at the selection of some squads, the majority are well put together and carbon copies of what we are likely to see in South Africa next month.
In-game, World Cup South Africa looks marvellous. While not on the same level of – for lack of a better word – perfection as FIFA 10, the atmosphere of the crowds is incredible, the stadiums look fantastic, and the return of commentator Clive Tyldesley is a welcome change from the monotonous Martin Tyler.
Faces are something of an enigma in the game, and while the most recognizable players are given extra facial detail, everyone else looks rather nothing like their human counterparts. It leads me to wonder why the FIFA 10 models weren’t simply cloned into World Cup South Africa. I only bring up this issue because it seems like a step in the wrong direction for EA; that, and the fact that there are a staggering amount of close-ups and cut-aways in the game.
The developers recognized how important a role the crowd can play in a game of football, and their decision to add cutscenes of cheering fans whenever there is a break in the game works to some extent. National coaches are also given a starring role, which is yet another addition that manages to add to the realism.
Taking your squad to the World Cup final is no easy task. It’s a long and arduous journey for most, especially for gamers who want to get the most out of the title. You can jump straight into the finals, play through qualification, or take the epic journey of a full World Cup campaign that includes friendlies, qualifiers, and the finals themselves.
There’s something to say about a game that can draw my attention away from FIFA 10 for almost a week. Few others have managed to do so in months gone by, and while World Cup South Africa feels like a rushed job at times, you have to give them credit for opening up the football genre to a wider audience.
Whether you are a hardcore football gamer like myself, or a withering old man with only the capacity to use two fingers and a thumb, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa will not only allow you to compete at your own level, but it will captivate you with the ecstasy of the tournament.
Unfortunately, the developers decided to deviate from the character models already implemented in FIFA 10. The result is a slightly less realistic, but still enjoyable, experience.
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Controlling teams has improved from FIFA 10, but a few slack testers missed some obvious glitches during substitutions and cutscenes.
The entire aural experience is phenomenal. Commentary is better than the FIFA series, crowds are euphoric, and even the vuvuzela makes an appearance.
While you won’t be playing this game for an entire year, there are enough teams, modes, and extra options to keep you entertained for hours on end.
While it falls short of FIFA 10 in many respects, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa rewards players with an accessible and ultimately rewarding game. There are plenty of elements to improve for Brazil 2014, but, as it stands, this title is a must-have for sports fans.