Every year EA Sports releases another iteration into its FIFA football franchise that leaves the internet groaning about the downside of yearly releases which is ultimately met with the same dull statement of, “Who would pay for a yearly roster update like this?” The truth of the matter is, EA Sports has refined each of their titles year in and out to the point where they are deserving of that full retail pricing. When you look at the evolution of the FIFA franchise, you can’t help but be impressed that EA Canada has taken a title that was once the laughing stock of the footy world in comparison to the uber simulation title, Pro Evolution Soccer, and turned it into the premiere title that not only dominates the globe in sales every year, but also outperforms its competitor in gameplay and authenticity as well.
FIFA 10 is the recently releases title in the lineup of FIFA titles and while Europeans have had the opportunity to play the game since the start of October, North American fans won’t be able to hit the pitch until October 20th. So, for those of you wondering as to why this review took so long to appear, that should cover that. Now, I’ll happily admit that I am a FIFA fanatic. I love throwing down in either 5-on-5 match (despite the increase to 10-on-10) or running with Olympiacos in a standard head to head match online while talking mad trash over the microphone. In my opinion, talking trash in football is as necessary as scoring a goal or laughing at the acting skills of Cristiano Ronaldo. Both of those are keys to a successful football title and if FIFA 10 can push users to do both, then they’ve succeeded at delivering the most authentic experience possible.
Without breaking down into my love for the game any further, let’s start discussing the gameplay and the revolutionary change EA Sports has implemented that makes FIFA 10 the best football title to date.
360 degree dribbling; It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? It sounds like something every football title would have included in its packaging since the beginning of time, however EA Sports is the first company to introduce this revolutionary ability into the game of football to date. While FIFA 09 wasn’t anything shy of a great title, player movement was often restricted to the eight basic directions (NESW + diags) which prevented players from ever having complete control of their ball handler. That issue is now a thing of the past and will always remain there.
FIFA 10’s new 360 degree dribbling allows gamers to maneuver their ball handler in any way possible allowing for a much more user-controlled experience than any other football title out there. This may seem like such a small improvement, but the lasting impact it has on the title after playing just a few games is astounding. The feeling of being able to cut at a 67 degree angle instead of being forced to choose between a 90 and 45 is a game changer. It allows you to utilize better angles to the ball and adds a lot more strategy to the overall level of play. To be honest, I cannot speak any higher of this implementation and I think it’s something that many footy fans will appreciate once they get their hands on the title.
FIFA 10’s gameplay has brought the title to the pure definition of simulation. One of the best aspects of FIFA 10 is the way that players FINALLY play to their ratings. If you’re controlling a defensive mid that happens to be very strong and you’re jostling for the ball against a little guy like Ribery, you’re going to throw him off the ball 99% of the time. If you’re controlling Chelsea’s Drogba, you’re able to make runs for the ball against most defenders and outplay them for positioning and be able to reach the ball first because of it. This simple change in mechanics has taken FIFA 10 from being just a great football simulation to being THE football simulation of this current generation of gaming.
However, this doesn’t mean that FIFA 10 offers flawless gameplay. There are still some nitpicky things that can be pointed out that definitely need to be addressed for the 2011 season of play. One of these things happens to be the ease at which players are pushed off of the ball. While FIFA 09 allowed for speed players to utilize their advantage against slower defenders, it’s not easier for those slower defenders to not be put at such a disadvantage because they can easily just push the dribbler off the ball. That makes players like Thierry Henry not as dangerous as they once were in the video game world. FIFA 10, you could say, forces gamers to open up lanes of their own and to create plays through technique rather than just raw skill. This gives the football-minded individual a bit of a leg up against players who rely on pure stick skills alone.
Virtual Pro is another nice addition to the gameplay aspect of things. Users can create their own pro (much like in Madden, NHL, NCAA, etc.) and utilize him throughout a linear career in order to grow him into an international footy star. Players start out on the squad of their choice’s reserve team and must work their way up through the ranks through skilled play and meeting expectations and goals. While your player may improve at a very limited rate, it’s a nice addition that gives the title some offline replayability. However, you can also utilize your virtual pro online as well, so don’t think you can’t show him off to buddies around the world either. One of the weaknesses of Virtual Pro however is the ability to upload your EA game face for utilization on your pro. It’s a bit sloppy and doesn’t work as well as advertised. Though this is just a minor issue, it isn’t one worth really being concerned about.
FIFA 10 boasts visuals on the same part as the previous season. You can tell by the visuals that the development team truly focused on improving the gameplay aspects of FIFA 10. While this hardwork and dedication is quite evident, the team could have put a bit more work into the cut scene visuals. During cut scenes, certain players look absolutely atrocious and their body sizes aren’t very proportioned. Thankfully, this does not reflect the actual gameplay visuals themselves, which is the most important aspect as the end of the day.
Martin Tyler and Andy Gray return to the pitch this year to call yet another season of football for EA Sports and the duo continue to disappoint. The team is often late in calling out what is going on, on the pitch and they sometimes trail off into talking about things that nobody really cares about. Add in the fact that they get very repetitive after a couple of matches and you’re in for another game where a custom soundtrack does wonders.
FIFA 10 in one word = Greatness. It’s often hard to define a title as the greatest the sport has ever had to offer, but FIFA 10 has made it very easy to do so. With the new implementation of 360 degree dribbling, FIFA 10 has taken that giant step forward that so many fans of the franchise had been waiting for. Considering you can go on any gaming forum of decent size and find a handful of people trying to start up a FIFA 10 Club, it goes to show that the title has true staying power. Of course – none will ever outclass our very own PlayStation University club, but that’s to be expected since I’ll be on it. Olay?