Short Version: 2010 FIFA World Cup is a fun diversion from the FIFA series, but has trouble justifying a full retail price. The controls and AI from FIFA 10 have improved immensely, but some similar bugs and glitches remain. However, the atmosphere and speed the game creates make for a fun, enjoyable experience for the FIFA fan.
Game Rant’s John Jacques reviews 2010 FIFA World Cup
So, here we are with another iteration of the FIFA franchise (the 27th, actually). I’m a long-time player of the series and loaded up the game having already tasted the demo. Immediately noticeable was that the menus no longer randomly lag, like they somehow did in FIFA 10. Now, I’m not professional programmer, but I’m pretty sure a next-generation (or is that current-gen now?) console shouldn’t lag on a menu, so this was nice to see. The menu is simplistic and easy to navigate, and there’s a little box on the lower right which occasionally pops up with some recommended quick matches based on teams you like playing – a neat little addition.
2010 FIFA World Cup brings 199 different countries to the plate. As you would expect, World Cup mode is the main attraction. You can jump to the finals with any team, or opt to take a team all the way from the Qualifiers to the finish, an enjoyable experience that tacks several hours of gameplay on. Friendly matches are included, and they play in moderately small stadiums compared to the 10 real-life stadiums in South Africa, which you’ll play in during the latter stages of the tournament.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is the atmosphere. The pitches look phenomenally better than in FIFA 10 (looking back now, I swear, they used to look like flat rubber). They actually put in crowds, too, instead of cardboard-esque little robot clapping people. It’s a freshening change and it adds to the overall feel of the game. The graphics have been bumped up a notch, and it seems the development team spent a long amount of time getting the player faces nicely detailed (even for smaller teams). But of course, a nice looking game doesn’t mean it’s a good one – it’s up to the gameplay to decide whether the game is a hit, or whether it’s far off target.
The usual controller modes are there, and then there are two simplified control schemes I’ll call the ‘Noob Controls’ – there’s a shoot button, a pass button, and movement. If you’re a casual gamer, this is the thing for you! If you like controlling more aspects, there are several other regular modes for you as well. Players respond well to given orders, and you can feel the weight of momentum in the way they control the ball.
The AI responds to your tactics well, and for once actually makes intelligent substitutions (I swear, that’s gotta be a first for FIFA). On higher difficulty levels, of which I normally fare quite well, it seems the AI enters some kind of hardcore mode, and matches turn into quick, crazy affairs where one mistake could cost you it all. While the AI performs very well most of the time, there are some errors that can ruin an entire match on a player – for instance, switching from player to player is a lot less accurate than I recall, and sometimes it switches you to 3 wrong players before it gets to the right guy. By the time you’re controlling the right defender, their striker is already celebrating a goal, and the ball is firmly in the back of your net.
Captain Your Country mode has returned, allowing you to be one of the players. 2010 FIFA World Cup even allows you the awesome option of importing your dude from FIFA 10. In the game you start as a B-International, and through hard work and achieving computer-set goals, you will eventually earn your stripes with the National Team and, hopefully, become their Captain on your road to glory in the World Cup. I played this feature with a friend and had an enjoyable experience, though sometimes the feedback we got at the end of the game didn’t match well with how the actual game went. Most of the time it was a flawless experience, and a great co-op idea.
Online play is as intense as ever, and there’s a live Battle of the Nations going on 24/7, where people represent their countries to see who games it up the best. For the first week, it’s been pretty bumpy – unexpected sources like Norway, Ireland and Croatia have been far ahead of places like England, France or Italy. Head-to-head matches now follow a league format, where after 10 games you either get promoted into a division, stay at your current player level, or are relegated into a lower division. It helps keeps matches balanced and is a pretty solid experience. The community in World Cup seems to be a lot more talkative than in other FIFA games, so you might as well plug in a headset before you log on. The sheer amount of scenarios that play out in online mode add infinite replay value to a game already chock full of weeks of playtime potential!
All in all, 2010 FIFA World Cup is a very enjoyable diversion from the regular FIFA games because it brings a lot of flair and AI improvements to the series. I’d recommend it to any FIFA fan, but if you already have FIFA 10, make sure you really do love the sport – casual gamers of the series will find it too similar to the regular stuff to warrant a new release price, but the more hardcore and passionate grouping will notice the tweaks and adjustments.
2010 FIFA World Cup is published by EA Sports and is currently available for Xbox 360 and PS3.
(And yes, it’s called football. Not soccer!)