FIFA 10 Review (Xbox 360)
It’s that time of the year again where the next round of sports titles floods the genre. The FIFA series, now indulging in a 17th annual title, has been recognised for its effort to maintain a sporting simulation with in-game statistics, presentation and gameplay. With every title a new bid is made to improve this by implementing new ideas.
There are no new game modes to FIFA 10, and despite changes to these game modes, the only one that has been significantly improved is the manager mode. A problem with the FIFA 09 manager career was the unrealistic and often unfair simulations that left perfectly good teams rock bottom of a league whilst clearly less able teams are unsettling the top clubs too often. The revised version has a few attributes that, if left to its own devices, will let the table pan out the way you think it should.
A ‘live season’ type player statistic tracking has been applied within the manager mode alone, which follows and changes all of the players through their characteristics depending on how well they perform in games. If enabled, an assistant manager will interchange the in-form players, and automatically remove tired, injured or suspended players from the oncoming games. Other clubs will automatically do this – organising a lesser group of players for matches against poorer clubs. This also allows for even the most inexperienced player in a squad to be played at least a few times a season, so that they improve and transfers would actually be used- things that rarely happened in last year’s title. Financial and transfer policies restrict from doing what you want – a club board will set a limit on all of the funds whilst incoming players are much more demanding on salaries, especially at the beginning of the career. A free choice of clubs is available at the beginning of the managerial mode but the ability to switch clubs freely at the end of each season and has been removed and replaced by a dire list of available positions, at least at the beginning of the campaign. This makes the decision of which club to take control of first crucial as the game will give unappealing offers, and will often never offer the club that appeals the most. However, all of this combines to make this integral part of the game deliver a much enhanced and faithful simulation.
The Create A Pro feature has been renamed Virtual Pro, and includes the same selection process of creating a personal player, but adds an ever more common user face-likeness option, and the opportunity to place this character in the manager, be a pro, quick game, tournament and lounge modes. The game-face can be rendered on the ea sports website, using photographs, and downloaded to the connected account and virtual pro within the game.
Purchasing the additional ‘Live Season 2.0’ packs joins a specified club to an online league running parallel to real world football. Each league match can be replayed online and the outcome added to an online table which is followed and compared each week. This Live Season also features friendly matches where the particular fixture can be practiced as many times as desired in time for the big game.
The overall menu layout and appearance have not been altered – ease of use with just the left analogue stick, but within the manager and be a pro modes there are significant presentational changes that streamline the system. A billboard style layout has been implemented, removing an in-depth menu with a scrolling list which displays the information and statistics you want without searching through different options. Despite a number of stadiums seemingly missing from the game (being replaced by generic stadiums), particular attention has been given to the weather – often changing the state of the pitch with each game. Where the rain effect does not look particularly convincing the appearance of a waterlogged pitch with each sliding tackle is very realistic. At winter portions of a campaign mode, or if it is set to be so, is when the snow effect makes this game stand out – as playing on a snow felled pitch looks very realistic and adds diversity to each match.
The action on the pitch, with a colourful palette and convincing environments, focuses the attention on an area of view, disregarding the crowds composed of ‘cut and pasted’ uninteresting and repetitive figures in the stadiums. Due to this attraction the imperfections are hardly noticeable and the characters are so detailed with nonstop, flowing composition, it makes this game great to control and great to watch regardless. There is a significant lack of stoppages that remove from each game, largely due to a number of refereeing decisions happening, and then with cautions and quick free kicks accounted for without a cut scene. This creates a style of play that incorporates constant anticipation and on the edge of the seat moments especially in online leagues and competitive standalone matches.
The audio and in-game commentary is certainly less of a thrill ride. Despite the availability of downloadable packs the default Andy Gray and Clive Tyldesley are bland and uninteresting in what they say – primarily due to most of it coming straight from FIFA 09, and even if it isn’t, they are extremely repetitive regardless. Nevertheless, when out of a game diverse music and sporting podcasts fill the time scrolling through team sheets and formations to full effect.
FIFA 10 is a solid, free-flowing football title that brings a vibrant setting and a convincing atmosphere. As an improvement to last year’s game, it doesn’t change a lot in the way it can be played but it does bring a fresh, light feel that makes it fulfilling. It will certainly entertain at every angle, at least until FIFA 11.