Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Also on: Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii
Console Played on: PlayStation 3
Release Date: Friday October 2nd 2009
Age Rating: PEGI 3
To quote Jose Mourinho, “There is no pressure at the top. The pressure’s being second or third.”
For a long time, that is where FIFA languished, second place behind the ubiquitous Pro Evolution Soccer. Even PES 2008 (with it’s many faults) was still a match for FIFA 08, but with FIFA 09, change had come. EA and FIFA were now a force to be reckoned with, and with FIFA 10, the same is true. Maybe Mourinho’s words can apply to football games too. With PES at the top of the tree for so long, has complacency on the behalf of Seabass and Konami meant that EA are here to finally steal their crown outright?
FIFA has always looked great, there can be no argument about that, the look and presentation were always spot-on, big games always felt special, and the Tyler-Gray commentary partnership added to the ambiance. FIFA 10 carries on high-quality look of its predecessors with accurate character models, detailed stadiums and an overall graphical polish that PES is only now beginning to match. One disappointment though with the commentary this year. It seems as if EA have recycled most of the sound bytes used in 09 and put them in the game again this year, with Tyler and Gray giving a sense of déjà vu from 09. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be as much variety in their comments this year, with the same phrases popping up more often that they should.
Sometimes with FIFA 09, dribbling intricately past a player wasn’t always possible, it felt distinctly numb in some ways, and trying to get a player to run the pitch was out of the question but this year FIFA 10 has remedied this with the introduction of 360 degree dribbling. The concept is simple, instead of players running like drones along the 8-axis they’d previously been stuck to, you now have the freedom to literally let them run riot in any direction you choose. Using a player like Messi or Ronaldo, you can do what they do best in real life, literally run rings around defenders.
The new dribbling mechanic is so well integrated you might not even initially notice it until you accidentally dribble the ball into touch, until realising that the subtle movement you made of the analogue stick did actually change the trajectory of the player you were using. After an hour or so of using 360 degree dribbling, going back to the archaic 8-axis running style would seem like punishment.
In previous FIFA’s (including 09) too many players felt similar, they lacked the gulf in class there was in real life. FIFA 10 has now rectified this, with players like Ribery or Robinho really feeling superior to say someone like John O’Shea, and they really can run the whole pitch now. The Trick Stick system has also been improved. Before, random waggles of the stick resulted in an equally random skill move being performed with the result being lost possession more often that not. This year however, the system has been improved and it does actually work, leaving defenders mesmerized has never been easier.
Speaking of a gulf in class between players, the same can now be said for teams. Too often in previous years were teams evenly matched, you could realistically play as Eircom Irish League side Derry City and keep a 4 star team at bay, heck, you could maybe even scrape a win. Not now. The difference in the players has also come to the teams, using Burnley against Manchester United should result in a predictable scoreline of a win to United. Theoretically anyway.
FIFA 10 has a much quicker pace than before, and building up momentum is critical to a successful attack. Hefty players like Rooney can now square up to defenders and barge them out of the way, with tussles on the pitch echoing what would happen in real life, for example, to use Mr Rooney again, if he were to run at full tilt into say… Ashley Cole, you’d expect Cole to fall flat on his rear end, and this is exactly what happens, with Rooney’s considerable bulk easily getting past the more slight of figure Ashley Cole.
EA as ever have endowed FIFA with a plenitude of game modes to choose from. At the time of writing, My Live Season was unavailable for test but there many other features to keep you playing. Be A Pro goes from strength to strength with the addition of My Virtual Pro, which works alongside Game Face, where you create your own player and over time build up their stats and unlock items like new boots in an almost RPG esque way. Your Pro can be used in Manager Mode, Be A Pro and in exhibition matches too.
Manager Mode has been touted as being a big hitting feature in FIFA this year but it’s still no reason to ditch Sport Interactive’s Football Manager series. It is solid but does come with a few niggles, such as the commentary team having amnesia about your past results, for example, coming into a match having just lost three straight games, talk of your recent great form can ensue. Moreover, the odd ridiculous transfer does happen too, who knew Owen Hargreaves was worth only a mere £5 million? Little things like this are irritating but not enough to spoil it.
Final Thoughts: FIFA continues it’s great run of form with another quality title. It’d be unfair to lable FIFA 10 as 09 with 360 degree dribbling just tacked on, it’s so much more than that. The overall feel of the game is more organic and it feels much more like football, with excellent physics and a feeling of momentum with players that PES is missing out on.
Gameplay: 9 – Highly involving. Brilliant dribbling matched with a pace and feel missing from previous versions, FIFA 10 sets a new standard for how football games should play. Online play is (as usual) excellent with laggy matches kept to an absolute minimum. Refinements to Manager Mode would’ve made this a 10.
Graphics: 9 – Looks as fantastic as ever, weather effects are spot-on and player models look superb, though PES 2010 does pip it overall for accurate portrayal of players.
Sound: 9 – Commentary is solid but some repetition from last year is unwelcome. The track listing isn’t quite as excellent as last year but is still good none-the-less.
Presentation: 8 – Menus are a bit dated now and could do with a revamp, being sent back to the root of all the menus after an online match should’ve been corrected. The speed of which you can browse through the menus could be improved, with a DVD-like pause present at times when navigating through.
Longevity: 10 – Live Season will keep the title fresh throughout the year, and with so many game modes to choose from both on and offline, you’ll always find something to do.
Overall: 9 - The best FIFA yet, die hard PES fans really should give it a go, it might just change your mind.
The big question will be what can EA do with FIFA 11 next year to take the series on from this stellar performance this year?