Those of us that are footy fans will no doubt be excited about the upcoming World Cup 2010 in South Africa.  And those fans who are also gamers are excited for the 2010 FIFA World Cup video game, which comes out April 27th. Seeing as the demo was just released, we went to see if the game deserved the full retail price it will be getting.

The first thing I noticed was that they brought the menu system back up to speed! In FIFA 10, they somehow managed to mutilate the menu into a slow beast that you could almost hear groaning when you wanted to access a submenu. This time, it came up quickly, and happily hummed along to the game’s theme song, “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan – which is cheesily appropriate for the occasion. Solid song, though.

Though the demo is just a kick-off feature, I want to mention how excellent it is that you can import your Be A Pro guy from FIFA 10 into the World Cup. The skills you’ve developed in FIFA 10 will move over to World Cup, so if you’ve spent some seasons getting golden boot awards, expect to be ready to take on the biggest national stage. And, finally, my Canadian guy can actually play on his national team, which isn’t in regular FIFA games.

Now, to the nitty gritty: the gameplay. You’re only allowed to play as Italy and Spain, but you can browse around the team selection screen anyway. It’s already been confirmed there’s the full 199 teams, so no surprises there. Get used to a lot of scrolling to find your team! Yay! Commentators Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend return to action, with some refreshingly new words to speak (I think there’s still some recycled sound clips stretching all the way back from FIFA 06, which got quite annoying as each year progressed).

First thing I noticed: Holy smokes, they actually detailed the people in the crowd! The camera will occasionally pan over some chanting supporters, all decked out in ridiculous garb and wearing their Country’s colors (whether on their clothes, face, mohawk, whatever). Managers also make an appearance in cutscenes, a la Euro 2008.

The gameplay kicked off, and I tore down the middle. After doing the always-overused-360-dribble, I was brought down just outside the box, and a red card was given to the defender straight away! Spain’s manager flailed like a Magikarp, and the player stormed off. Then, to my surprise, they substituted to bring a defender on, with striker Fernando Torres coming off. This is probably the first intelligent, non-randomized FIFA substitution I’ve ever witnessed. Later on, I would discover that the AI is capable of making a lot of smart moves regarding substitutions, and I’m quite pleased they finally worked on it! No more, “we’re 3 goals down and it’s the last 5 minutes. Let’s bring on another defender!” stuff.

The gameplay is as fluid as ever – the physics have been touched up even more so, and the nets now give off more satisfying swishes when you manage to score. Lots of new animations have been added to the players. In the case of Italy and Spain, the players were meticulously detailed. I can’t promise the same for, say, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who just might have less fans playing the game.

After playing several games against the World Class level computer, I have to say it’s been ages since they’ve managed to make a super challenging AI for the game. Granted, I was playing as Italy – if I were Canada playing against Spain, it would have been a much tougher fight. But come on, I immediately switched to the highest difficulty, and won my first 3 games before being sunk – that said, though, the AI has no major glitches that I saw, and presents a realistic and fun opponent. It takes a little to get used to the new penalty system, but it’s pretty unique, and in an intense match there’s no doubt it’ll get the heart pumping. Speaking of intensity, these games were born for multiplayer – it wasn’t in the demo, but we all know what it’s like. And there’s nothing better than people disconnecting every time you go 2 – 0 up! No word on whether EA is changing its stance on “letting you get your winning points if the person ‘accidentally’ disconnects when losing.”

FIFA World Cup 2010 will be coming out April 27th for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, and PSP. Are you excited for the game? Which Country do you support?

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