Review – FIFA ’10
This has all happened before and it will all happen again.
A year ago I did a complete 180 with EA. They’d gone from being more or less the very vision of games industry evil to actually putting out products that indicated that they gave a fuck. The likes of FIFA, Skate and new IPs like Dead Space reinforced the opinion that EA were finally putting out games that had the quality you’d expect from one of the biggest publishers in the world.
Since then they’ve started to lapse back into bad habits. Skate 2, whilst being a good game in its own right, was a very underwhelming sequel to the brilliant original, Fight Night 4 was unmitigated dogshit, the Tiger Woods games were sailing off into a sea of mediocrity and now, after the critical success of the brilliant FIFA ’09, they’ve released the inevitable number ten and the short version is…
Well, here’s the problem. FIFA ’10 is brilliant. It’s the best game in the genre but only by a small margin. I said, in my FIFA ’09 review, that ’09 was only a sidestep from Euro 2008 (the game that really re-established EA as the kings of footie again) and that EA only really get to do that once before they end up repeating their past mistakes (and indeed Konami’s current one).
FIFA ’10 isn’t amazing. It’s a micro-step forward from ’09. There isn’t anything new in it that couldn’t have been achieved with a patch. Apart from maybe the 360 degree dribbling and, despite what the reviews and fans might say (the same people who let Seabass off with a decade of micro-updates) it doesn’t make that much difference. I can switch from ’09 to ’10 and back without adjusting anything in my playing style.
The argument comes down to ‘what else can EA put in these games’ and, admittedly, there isn’t much. The FIFA games are now crammed with the kind of content that Seabass and chums can only dream of. However, the point isn’t ‘what else’ but rather ‘why keep releasing the game each year?’
If you can think of a single reason, other than pure profit, then fine – I’ll listen. But the fact is EA will keep churning out these games and, with no viable opposition anymore, they don’t have a huge incentive to keep adding things. Pro Evo has practically folded, gone into administration and reformed as AFC Blaverage. FIFA has won the war, not just the battle, and we’re going to be the collateral damage.
So what does your yearly outlay of cash get you?
First up is the 360 degree dribbling as mentioned before. It feels slightly different but doesn’t make much difference to your dribbling success rate. Indeed I found myself running my wingers off the pitch at like a five degree angle far too often.
Credit where credit’s due though, ‘Be A Pro’ has had one major change which has won me over a little. Instead of spending post-match points on stats, you now can only upgrade your pro by completing ‘accomplishments’. These range from making an assist, scoring from a header, dribbling past players and a whole host of other techniques that each earn a small boost to your stats. Get them all and your pro will be unstoppable.
It’s a really nice way to level up and does encourage some variation in your play.
Unfortunately, EA are obsessed with this feature and have linked it into Manager mode and Club mode. Now that’s fine in Manager mode as you can leave the player out, although what’s not fine is that signing players seems a bit hard and other match results are a little unrealistic with shock results often being the norm.
Now Club mode, well… what was a nice diversion in ’09 is now fucked. Instead of playing as real-life teams, now your Be A Pro player is drafted in by default. No, really. There doesn’t seem to be a way to deselect him either (you can’t even start the mode without having a BAP player). So, your team of shitty, under-developed players goes up against random players that you can’t judge or predict. At least when every cunt played as Man Utd, you knew to mark Ronaldo. Now it’s just random horribleness. It’ll be worse in a month when everyone is maxed out.
This is the first time ever I’ve bought a yearly update for a football game. I usually stay away as they never seem to change that much and the squad updates aren’t really enough to warrant the cash. However, I played a lot of Fifa ’09, especially online, and thought it was the best football game I’d ever played so I thought Fifa ’10 would be worth it.
This will probably be the last time I buy a football game two years in a row. Even with Fifa 09 being the best football game I’d ever played and with the upgrades Fifa 10 has had, I feel a little ripped off. The Virtual Pro is a nice addition, allowing you to put yourself in the game (with your own face thanks to GameFace) which you can use in multiple game modes gaining experience as your go. This includes a new online mode which expands on the Club mode from last year, where you can take your Virtual Pro online and play in your position with your friends who will be using their pros and playing in their positions. It’s a nice idea, and you can see what they’re going for (a full team of ten unique players), but who really wants to play in defence? Plus matches have proven to be very laggy in these early stages of the release. Other than that there is little that’s incredibly new, just slight alterations to existing modes. The commentary, graphics and even the menus have barely changed from last year.
Saying that, this is still a good game, the changes that have been made aren’t all for the best, but if you’ve not played a Fifa game for a while (or at all) then this is for you. However, if you’ve played Fifa 09 you might want to think about skipping this one. Oh, and put the Welsh national squad in Fifa ’11 please (though I probably won’t buy it).
Secondary Score: 8/10
Aside from that, the game still has a few in-match annoyances. Firstly, fuck off EA for the amount of times the ball hits the post. It’s just as bad as it was in ’09. It happens in almost every match and most freekicks hit the bar. It’s too often to be random chance and I’m not the only one affected. It’s shit, EA.
Secondly, the refs – whilst at least playing better advantages now – are horribly finicky, making most matches awful stop-start affairs. It’s worse online.
On the pitch, the game makes defending a lot easier (step-in challenges are particularly effective) and the keepers aren’t quite so easy to chip anymore. Everything else is pretty much as you left it in ’09. For the uninitiated: best footie game engine in a decade.
Unfortunately, before you get into any matches you have to navigate one of the worst menu systems in living memory (enjoy finding your way into an online club) and a music selection that leaves me lost for derogatory words. Graphically everything is top notch though and the commentary – while being mostly composed of the same samples as ’09 – is as good as ever, with some nice touches when describing the modern game (Man City’s new wealth is refered to for example).
Make of all that what you will. If you were happy with yearly updates from PES that added nothing, then you’ll love this. If you’ve not played a FIFA game in a while, I urge you to buy this game – it’s tremendous. But if you own ’09 and were expecting more than just a few nips and tucks, then prepare to be disappointed.
Mark my words. The atrophy starts here unless someone comes along and gives EA some real competition and given the remarkable quality of modern-day FIFA, that’s not going to happen. Expect half a decade of minimal updates, whilst the game engine becomes a bloated version of it’s former self.
In summary, if FIFA ’09 didn’t exist, this’d be a 9/10 game. FIFA ’09 does exist though and as such a seven seems fair. After all, if Resident Evil 4 got a sequel a year later that was exactly the same but with one new feature, called itself Resident Evil 5 and sold at full price would it deserve the same review score as Resi 4?