Soccer, Iâ€™d always thought, was a game for wimps. Iâ€™d never shown the slightest interest in it, and I wouldnâ€™t have been able to tell you the difference between a lob and a through ball if I tried.
And then came FIFA 09. Roughly six months later, I follow the game of soccer religiously. Heck, I even have my own fantasy Premier League team. Itâ€™s that bad. And I blame it all on FIFA 09.
Iâ€™ve since read about the competition between EA Sportsâ€™ FIFA series, and Konamiâ€™s Pro Evolution Soccer. Iâ€™ve gleaned that FIFA 09 marked the first time in years that EA Sports came out on top. Whatever. For me it boiled down to this: the game was a riot to play. It was seriously addictive. I sunk hours into playing against friends, and the gameâ€™s Lounge Mode kept track of all the stats (or should I say, boasting rights). On top of that, I am a sports fan, and the level of detail in FIFA 09 blew my mind. The stats, the animation, the commentaryâ€¦ I was hooked. If only someone would put out a rugby or cricket game with this set of features. I can dream.
But, this is a review of FIFA 10, not FIFA 09. Still, I had to lay the groundwork so that I could build on it, because this is exactly what FIFA 10 does. Everything that was great about last yearâ€™s version is here, but a whole lot has been improved upon. The biggest new addition is 360 degree dribbling. No longer is your player limited to eight measly directions. This may seem like a small thing, but the game is far smoother and faster as a consequence, and also much less predictable. It just feels more real. In fact the game plays more realistically as a rule. Defences are much tougher to break, and you canâ€™t rely on the same tricks to score goals. Strikers like Fernando Torres have been toned down a bit too. The end result is that matches are much more tense, and you feel like you really earn your goals.
The feature set outside the core game is rich. The best new addition is Live Season 2.0, which lets you pick a team, and then play through the season trying to best their real lfie results. It updates weekly with all the action, injuries and the like, from the real Premier League. Star players will fluctuate in form or get injured. I picked Manchester City (if only to stick it to the intolerable Manchester United), and Craig Bellamy went from being a relative journeyman, to a superstar in about the fourth week of the season, just like he did in real life.
Another cool feature is Gameface, which allows you to upload a picture of your face to the EA Sports website, and then download into the game onto a player you create. It can look a bit goofy, but itâ€™s fun to play around with.
I really have very few complaints about FIFA 10. Itâ€™s the evolution of an almost perfect experience. Perhaps being able to pick your own super-team, player by player, would have been fun. But thatâ€™s really scraping the barrel for criticism.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Available on: XBox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP, PC