Fifa Soccer 10ESRB:
1-7 players/ 2-20 online
30MB HDD space required
HD video 720p
Dualshock 3 compatible
On the heels of winning 25 international gaming awards with FIFA Soccer 09, the top-selling soccer franchise from EA SPORTS returns with FIFA Soccer 10. Responding to consumer feedback from more than 350 million online games played, FIFA Soccer 10 refines an already potent game engine, focusing on what matters most to fans. FIFA Soccer 10 features core gameplay refinements based on responsiveness and intelligence, plus a completely overhauled Manager Mode that includes more than 50 major improvements. EA lateset effort continues to set the benchmark as the most complete simulation of soccer.
Visually, FIFA 10 looks incredible, from the detailed player models that show real emotion, to the stadiums and pitches that are so detailed you can almost feel the dew on the early morning mist. The team at EA Canada have really stepped up their game to deliver one fantastic looking game of soccer. The little things are paramount here. I noticed right off the hop how the animations are smoother and no longer canned, so you don't have to worry about starting a play only to have the preloaded animation finish the job. This allows for the realistic ball physics to really take shape and provide unpredictability. What's more, not only does the game use a very detailed graphics engine, the game never suffers from framerate loss that may take away from its overall enjoyment. Simply, Fifa 10 runs like butter the entire length of the game, including replays. Toss in the new Photo Game Face mode that tweaks your likeness greater than ever before where you can create a superstar from the ground up, and you have one visually splendid game.
Unfortunately, if there is a downside to FIFA 10 it is the commentary team. The team is great, but most of the script is repeated from last year’s version. While this is minor gripe, I thought after all the work put into the gameplay it would be prudent to make subtle changes to the script. Once again, Martin Tyler and Andy Gray provide the games call, but anybody who has played FIFA 09 will instantly hear last years lines being used again.
Other than the commentary issue, FIFA 10 is exemplary in the sound and overall presentation. Players are clearly heard calling 'man on' and 'down the line'; announcers are heard over the frenzied crowd that get behind the team with authentic chants. It’s almost like watching a soccer broadcast, with an unbelievable amounts of detail. The game is also encoded in Dolby Digital surround, so the sound work is top notch. You can feel the boom as keepers boot the ball down the field or while watching strikers hammer the ball in the penalty area. I also noticed the different chants and jeers from the various crowds in cities all over the world. The attempt for realism is very high and it comes across in spades throughout the game, kudos goes to the developers.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the music, as some does play in the menus and background. Most of the gamers will not notice it too much as the action on the pitch will be their primary focus. Of what I did notice matched the games feel and flair perfectly.
FIFA 10 addresses critical gameplay fundamentals that have been enhanced to ensure that the virtual game mirrors real-world soccer, providing more sophisticated ball control, and physical interaction. On attack, players now analyze space more effectively, curve their runs to try and stay onside, and drive for more variety in attacking options. On defense, new concepts like position priority enable defenders to multitask so dangerous spaces left open by teammates out of position are covered. Plus, slide tackle targeting, press marking, and better urgency clearance logic make defending a more tactical skill in FIFA Soccer 10. The actions on the pitch are immediately felt and seen, and as I played through various games this was clearly evident. I loved how EA has tweaked the game from the last outing, you can clearly see how much more intelligent the AI players are. I marveled at how the game now mirrors the real life sport, with all players making way better choices and making good decisions while having the ball. They made me work for my openings and quickly reacted to any shortcomings.
Three new innovations change the player control experience in FIFA Soccer 10. The first-ever true 360 degree Dribbling system gives players finer control of the ball, enabling them to find spaces between defenders that previously were not possible. Using an all-new animation technology, skilled dribblers now have the ability to face the defender and use highly responsive Skilled Dribbling to skip past. An innovative concept called Freedom in Physical Play enables players to perform wider dribble touches and new collision sharing creates a varied, less predictable, and extended fight for possession between the dribbler and a defender. FIFA 09 had great ball control after many years of that static digital front to back and side to side control. This was so frustrating to watch and use as the AI players would be able to rip right by you with skill and finesse, but you could not do the same to them. FIFA 10 has, for the first time, complete control. Players are able to juke and dribble with relative impunity. I had several instances where I felt comfortable enough to try and dribble out of trouble, with silky smooth control the herky-jerky nature of dribbling from games past is completely gone. This by far for me is the biggest change from previous games, and it’s finally fun instead of frustrating.
There are quite a few new changes and modes added to this year’s game which I’ll go over briefly in the coming paragraphs.
You can live out the fantasy of playing as a professional footballer in all-new Virtual Pro. Put yourself in the game using Photo Game Face and then embark on a career with more than 200 accomplishments to master across all games modes. Join an Online Team Play Club and play 10v10 against hundreds of thousands of Virtual Pros from around the world in the Pro Club Championship, with the top clubs battling it out to become Regional and World Champions each month. Within the Virtual Pro mode are the following
- Create your Pro – Select a position and customize your player’s build to determine his starting attributes. Choose a team to have your Pro added to and take him on your journey through any of the offline game modes including having him follow you in your Manager Mode career.
- Download your Game Face – With EA SPORTS Football World you can literally put yourself in the game by downloading a Photo Game Face from the web. Game Face takes FIFA 10’s player creation to the next level with unrivalled physical likeness.
- Grow your Pro – Improve your player by completing over 200 “on the pitch” accomplishments to unlock attribute upgrades, skill moves, new player traits, celebrations and extra kit. You can train up your player in all of the offline games modes, including the Arena, as well as grow your Pro in online play.
- Pro Club Championship – Take your Virtual Pro online and compete in EA SPORTS 10 v 10 Pro Club Championship. Clubs can join one of the 11 regional leagues, win trophies each month as well as climb to the top of the overall World Leader board. Up to 50 friends can sign for a Club and once you’re in a Club you can also download your friends Game Faces.
- Become a Virtual Legend – Achieve superstar status with all your Club match stats tracked and on show, including Top Goals corer, Most Assists and the best players in each position. As well as comparing your stats with your team mates you can also see how you fair against the World’s Top players on the Pro Leader board, with the top clubs always looking to sign highly skilled and available Pro’s.
I used one of my photos to use in the game, and found the feature to be very useful and easy. My game face looked every bit as real as any of the other players, and I quickly thought the PS3 camera is of good quality. It’s the first time I had used the device, and had zero problems implementing the photo into the game.
Interestingly enough, EA took the stats of 400 million online games played in FIFA 09, to focus or address what mattered most to the community and continue to provide the best online football experience around. Since online gaming is such an important component in any game released today, this is a fantastic way to tweak an already great online experience. Here are some of the features they focused on:
- Improved Matchmaking – FIFA 10’s new online matchmaking logic now considers skill level and location when pairing players to ensure that not only is everyone’s online performance as good as it can be, but that you’re matched with someone of a similar standard to ensure every match is competitive.
- Play your Way – Community requests by the bucket load have been added to give gamers more control of how they play. Players can now filter searches by game speed, team star ratings, controller settings and the maximum number of players in online team play to ensure they find their perfect match. Fancy Extra Time and/or Penalties? This year it’s all up to you.
- FIFA Fair Play – An all new ranking formula ensures only the best gamers will make it to the top of the rankings. With points awarded and broken down based on in-game match performance, the teams used, as well as the final result, along with diminishing returns for playing the same user, the Leader boards in FIFA 10 will be more competitive than ever before.
EA’s online component has been somewhat suspect and has come under fire in past years with questionable match-ups and sometimes terrible connections. I can say these problems have been all but eradicated. Once you sign into EA servers the games seemed to stream along with very little problems, in fact of the 20 or so online games I played I lost or dropped a connection only once and the match making did not align me up with superstar of an opponent. Even though I got schooled twice and I really did feel that I was really in every game I played.
One thing of note here is the shooting. It has also been tweaked for the good. Shooting was seriously poor in the last release, and I’m glad that EA realised this. Shots are now a lot more authentic and realistic. You can hit a low pile-driver from outside the box and see it fly into the bottom corner, or you can shoot outside the box. In fact you can score from pretty much anywhere if the conditions allow for it. The old sweet spots of before are gone, and you can take your shot from wherever you want and know you have a chance of scoring from it.
There is also an improved Manager Mode where more than 50 major improvements were designed to create an authentic experience to mimic the real-world game. Match results are based on team and player strengths and weaknesses. Player transfers are determined by multiple decision points, including club finance and prestige, availability of similar players, and competition from AI-controlled clubs. Player development is more realistic with true-to-life growth curves based on factors such as age and environment. This mode is very similar to the NHL and NFL games, although it can be very confusing to those who don’t really know how the inner workings of soccer are handled. Players can be lent to other clubs, with salaries being deferred etc. Those that like to tinker will have more than enough management options to work with.
With all these improvements and refinements for FIFA 10 the only question remaining is, how does it play? Well in a word...perfection. EA has redefined FIFA 10’s engine to allow for many new game play improvements that really compliment the game's visuals and deep game modes. The enhanced 360 degree dribbling, more precise collision detection, AI urgency, improved trapping AI, better and more accurate positioning, added defending options such as slide blocking and overhead clearances, smarter goalie AI, and even AI behavioural differences are just some of many improvements that make this game the best it has ever has been.
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