April 23, 2010
What would a World Cup tournament be without an accompanying FIFA game? Lighter on the pocket for starters - it's something to be resented when you're coaxed into parting with your cash only to find that you've gone and bought the latest FIFA with a quick internationally-flavoured re-skin and a few superfluous shoehorned-in knick-knacks to fool you into thinking it's like, tooootally different.
We've been burned by rubbish FIFA World Cup games before, but it looks as though you can put all reservations aside for 2010, because EA has taken the established, much-maligned tradition of shoddily cobbled-together World Cup games and blown it to pieces. 2010 FIFA World Cup is – shock horror! – actually very good.
FIFA 10 was a fantastic football game to begin with, so it's perhaps surprising that EA hasn't simply taken the quick buck approach by dressing its game in World Cup clothing before booting it out of the door for an eager public to buy in their droves like they always seem to do. Instead, 2010 FIFA World Cup defies categorisation as a shamelessly cynical tie-in by offering a range of different modes from those included with FIFA 10, all impeccably presented in the trademark EA Sports style.
It's apparent that some genuine effort has gone into making 2010 FIFA World Cup a worthy companion to FIFA 10, from the exhaustive roster of 199 international teams to the 10 authentically-realised stadia – every facet of the game is of a remarkably high standard. It doesn't stop there though, with the gameplay being subject to more than 100+ gameplay enhancements, and the visuals getting a fairly substantial lick of paint. The result is a FIFA game that looks and feels quite fresh, effortlessly outstripping previous Euro and World Cup games in the quality stakes by some margin.
On the visual front, aspects like improved pitch textures, lighting effects and player likenesses give 2010 FIFA World Cup a more realistic look, which is further enhanced by cutaways to concerned managers and dancing fans, really driving home the TV-style presentation. This is about as close to replicating a televised football match as you can currently get. The FIFA gameplay mechanics have also been systematically picked over and tightened up, incorporating seemingly minor tweaks like being able to chest the ball and loft driven aerial passes forward to maintain the momentum of a match. Passing and movement feels more fluid and responsive too, adding to the already rather solid FIFA 10 foundations with meaningful alterations that actually help to actively improve the gameplay.
Then there's the wealth of worthwhile new game modes in 2010 FIFA World Cup that also illustrate EA Canada's commitment to making this so much more than a simple FIFA 10 rehash. Besides the obvious inclusion of the full World Cup tournament itself – available in both online and offline variants – there's also a new Virtual Pro mode called Captain Your Country, which supports 4-players in co-op. You can also import your Virtual Pro from FIFA 10 into the CYC mode and then compete for the captaincy as part of a team of your choosing, or build a new pro from scratch and lead him to glory. Battle of the Nations, Story of Qualifying and the World League Ladder also provide heaps of potential gameplay that'll endure far beyond the televised event. And that's before you've even factored in the additional scenarios that'll be available for free from the 2010 World Cup once the actual matches have played out. Expect to play the inevitable England penalty shootout and re-write the bit where they boot the ball over the crossbar.
Other new modes include Battle of the Nations - an ongoing competition to see which nation is home to the most superior FIFA players - and World League Ladder - a fight for supremacy in ranking tables where relegation or promotion is always on the agenda. Story of Qualifying features situations cherry-picked from the most memorable moments of the World Cup qualifying stages, including that questionable Henry goal against the Republic of Ireland, which was the subject of much controversy at the time. Can you do a Quantum Leap and put right what once went wrong? There's a whole bunch of 2006 World Cup scenarios to unlock and pick through as well, so it's a mode that's well worth spending time with.
2010 FIFA World Cup does a fantastic job in encapsulating the pageantry and sense of occasion that comes with the tournament. If indeed emotion and passion is what the World Cup is all about, then EA Canada has got it pretty much spot-on with its representation of the exuberant carnival atmosphere. It's much more than just colourful streamers, confetti and fireworks. It's the deafening roar of the crowd, the waving banners, the national pride and mad-looking fans prancing around in insane wigs and make-up, apparently.
2010 FIFA World Cup has a variety of differing achievements that bypasses wearing wigs or make-up, including winning various challenges with teams that carry a certain star rating and sampling the multitude of new game modes. There's a good spread of achievements to bag across pretty much every single game type, meaning that it'll take forever to bag the lot, but you'll be compelled to explore every nook and cranny of the game in trying to do so. It's also good to see the return of the shameful achievement awarded to online quitters. It's worth nothing, and should be avoided at all costs. Earn it, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Overall, this is a pretty decent list and quite different to FIFA 10's fairly dull set of achievements. Despite that, they still are a little bit of a chore and truth be told, they’re a little uninspiring and lifeless.
2010 FIFA World Cup is a superb accompaniment to FIFA 10, improving upon the already excellent gameplay with numerous refinements that edge the series ever-closer to the look and feel of real football. It's a refreshing change of pace from the usual shameless cash cow that we're used to, as some obvious care and attention has gone into making the game.
Whether it's enough to warrant parting with your cash again if you already have FIFA 10 is the million dollar question. There's certainly enough new stuff in 2010 FIFA World Cup to make a purchase worthwhile and if nothing else, the new modes and refinements make this a perfect companion to FIFA 10. Simply put, this will be the best football game money can buy... Until FIFA 11 turns up.
A decent playlist of world music anthems with banging drums and stirring vocals is the World Cup signature, and 2010 is no different. While the soundtrack grates after a while, the commentary duo of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend almost makes up for it. Although they soon begin to get old quickly.
FIFA 10's graphics given a serious spit polish. You can squint at the screen in parts and it looks almost real. The likenesses and stadiums in particular are quite stunning and a definite improvement over its predecessor.
Again, this is FIFA 10 but more so. 2010 FIFA World Cup feels more fluid and immediate than its forebear, with a slew of small enhancements that combine to make this the most playable FIFA yet.
There's no faulting the EA Sports presentation. Everything from the TV broadcasts is (presumably) in the game and the main menu globe interface is superb. Each game mode has an intuitive web page style front end too, which is cleanly presented and incredibly slick. Like we say, it can't really be faulted.
A decent, if fairly dull list to trawl through. The achievements cover every single element of the game though, so you're encouraged to explore everything on offer. Still, like FIFA 10's list, some of 2010 FIFA World Cup's achievements are a real chore.
If you're excited about the World Cup, then this instalment of FIFA will definitely give you the fever. It's a brilliant football game and an improvement over FIFA 10, but this is naturally where the series should be after six months of gameplay tweaks. 2010 FIFA World Cup is the best football game you can buy... Until FIFA 11 comes along that is.