Last year EA managed to convert my Pro Evolution Soccer faith to FIFA with their amazing depiction of football, FIFA 09. We're now 12 months down the line and EA are at it again, but can they keep or improve on those high standards founded in FIFA 09? Well if you have played FIFA 10 yourself, you will know the answer.
Continuing from the success that was FIFA 09 EA has kept the foundations of the game the same. Yes that means same menu's, some similar game modes and obviously, same selection of teams to choose from. That's not a bad thing in my book as you play the game to play the wonderful sport of football, not to glare at the new fancy menus. However some people may have another opinion on that very point.
EA have produced some treats for us gamers however and it looks like they have listened to the strong FIFA community. When kicking around in the arena the fan base wanted more than just one on one shooting. They (including me) wanted the ability to take free-kicks with a wall in place, set-piece training with other AI players and the ability to have some practice matches. EA have granted our wish and all of the aforesaid is included at the simple touch of a button or two right from the start.
I feel like I am going to be repeating a lot of the things I said in my review from last year as unlike FPS games or even driving games to an extent, FIFA doesn't have the security of developing a new story line for each of its games. They can't change the rules of football to make it different from previous years; it unfortunately just doesn't work like that. So you can probably guess what kind of game modes there are going to be. Exhibitions, custom tournaments, custom leagues, a slightly changes Manager Mode, Be A Pro seasons and the online games Head to Head matches, 10 v 10 matches and friends / custom leagues are all included. There is also a new mode called Virtual Pro which has never been included before this year’s edition of the game which is also nice to see.
Virtual Pro is as the name suggests. It's like Be a Pro as you create your own custom player but this time you can utilise the EA Sports World (click for link) to put your own face into the game. I seemed to have a lot of problems with this feature. Not only was it a struggle to connect, as it's been down for maintenance, I don’t understand why EA haven't made use of the Xbox LIVE Vision camera or PS3's Eye to quickly put your own face into the game. It would save any hassling around online to put your player into the game and it also neglects offline only users. Anyway the idea of virtual pro is simple. Create your player and build him up into the world’s greatest football player. You can use your pro throughout different game modes to build up his stats and unlock accomplishments. Unlocking these achievement / trophy like rewards boots your custom player with an array of skill stats as well as accessories like long sleeve shirts, gloves and a variety of football boots to help make him the a football legend.
On the gameplay side of things there has been some changes including the revolutionary 360 degree control. It’s not immediately noticed but when you start to play games after games you will notice that dribbling has improved a lot and feels more fluent. The tricks feel more like it would actually happen in a game especially when you join Ronaldo and his fellow galactico’s at Real Madrid. The tricks those guys can pull of are outstanding. The Real Madrid board certainly think it's worth the £200,000+ they are paying for many of their players, and I have to agree. Shooting has also been tweaked and I’m not sure whether it's for the better. It seems a lot harder to score from long range even when your Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard, but at the same time it does feel more realistic as everything from the pace of the ball to the positioning of the player is taking into account. One thing that definitely hasn't improved is the heading of the ball from both corners and crosses. Even the 6ft 6 Peter Crouch struggles to nod the ball in. It doesn't affect me however as being the FIFA king, I am able to overhead kick the ball into the net instead [complete lies]. That's the gameplay side of things but what about the games presentation?
Well graphically FIFA 10 has improved steadily from what were already great visuals. Player recognition is outstanding so much so that you wouldn't need the names to appear on screen in order to know who has the ball. The array of stadiums is excellent and all look identical to their real life counterparts. There are some ugly parts of the game however as for example the crowd are still living in the SNES days. I guess we can't expect EA to improve the crowd to much without sacrificing other crucial parts to the game. It's a minor thing in the scheme of things as the 99% of the graphical display is on the pitch itself. On top of the graphics is the audio which is brilliant. Be it the in game soundtrack featuring The Enemy, to the Liverpool fans
singing shouting You'll Never Walk Alone, it's truly awesome. Martin Tyler and Andy Gray are the commentators to the matches and while at times they seem behind play and a little repetitive, it's still great to hear their enthusiasm for the game shine through.
What annoyed me most when playing an Xbox LIVE or a PlayStation Network match in FIFA 09 was the fact that when someone quit, largely down to the beating I was giving them at the time, a message would occur saying that the connection had been lost. I was also not awarded with the victory and this drove me nuts, so much so I didn't play online that much. EA have sorted this problem in this year’s edition of the game. No longer am I trying to allow my opponents a chance into the game to avoid them quitting, instead I can use my skills to dish out 4 or 5 nil thrashings. If they do quit I am awarded with the victory with a smile on my face. I might be on the other end of a defeat on the odd occasion it must be admitted. As with 09 you can play 10 v 10 which leads to one of two things; chaos or pure genius. Chaos down to the fact that some people leave when they don't get to play as a striker, and pure genius because the idea is still a real innovation and something which can only improve yearly.
Overall FIFA 10 improves steadily on FIFA 09 in almost every way. If you are a footie fan then FIFA 10 is an absolute must have even if you are a fan of the Pro Evolution Soccer series. I'll even let you quote me on this; FIFA 10 is the world's best football simulation to date. If you’re not a football fan then I suppose you're missing out, big time!