Replay Value: 9.3
Soccer (hereafter referred to as football) is the world's biggest sport. And FIFA is probably Electronic Arts' biggest franchise. As the years go on, the series manages to accumulate a bigger and bigger release with every new iteration. This year is no different, as the hype surrounding FIFA 10 was bordering on epic levels. Sure, maybe you didn't get a whiff of that hype here in the 'States, but outside of this loopy country where carrying a ball with your hands is called football, the masses have been jumping for joy. In fact, as of this moment (10/24/09), over 40 million matches of FIFA 10 have been played. That is absolutely f-ing nuts. I first got to sample FIFA 10 back in July, and I found it incredible. Now, with a copy spinning inside my PS3, I can go into a bit more detail on why it's so damn good.
First of all, FIFA 10 does an even better job at capturing the sensation of tension. When you miss a shot, you'll ache, and when you score your celebrations can be every bit as silly as the ones on TV. The game manages to convey that sense of immersion like no other sports gaming franchise has. To add to that immersion is the Be A Pro mode, which has been enhanced thanks to an addition called "Virtual Pro". Virtual Pro is a mode that allows you to create your Pro player and use him across a number of different game modes, including standard exhibition Be A Pro match, Be A Pro Seasons, Pro Club Championship (Online) and more.
The Pro creator process is a detailed interface that allows you to edit your players standard information, his appearance, physical attributes, and accessories. Now, it must be said that you can only edit the face of your pro, albeit with a ton of detail, when altering his appearance. Oddly enough, adjusting the player's weight and height makes not even the slightest visual difference, except for altering his stats. Perhaps it's an undiscovered glitch, but if you'd like to have your pro looking a little more full, you can change the body type from "lean" to "average". Now, as you control your Pro, you will achieve accomplishments, and you don't necessarily unlock them only during a match, but even during the mini-game you can pick up a number of accomplishments.
Of course, though, it's when you actually play one of the game's Pro-related modes that you realize why fans love these modes so much - it's a lot more engaging than playing a standard match where you control the entire team. Odd, isn't it? It's more fun to play when you're in *less* control. Hah. But, as you imagine, the reason for that is simply because you feel more involved, because your focus is on your player, and the only control you have over the team is suggesting passes or shots (which, by the way, you'll be rewarded or penalized for - depending on if the call was a good or bad). You can view your accomplishments, skills, stats, and edit your footballer in the Virtual Pro menu, and through this menu you can also upload your own face to FIFA 10 and slap it on your player.
As far as game modes go, you've got Live Season 2.0, which not only tracks real world match-ups, but also allows you to play them by recreating or rewriting them. The FIFA Interactive World Cup (online mode) has returned with some revisions, including leveled teams, and random opponents. Pro Club Championship, as mentioned before, is the online mode you can take your Virtual Pro through alongside a club full of other VPs created by others. Last for game modes, the Manager Mode has seen an extensive revision, boasting 50 new improvements, many of which were called for by the fans.
But perhaps the most critical aspect here is the revised dribbling controls, and the game's all new 360-degree dribbling. This new feature helps when it comes down to troublesome situations where you find yourself surrounded by a flock of defensemen waiting to pounce on you. You can finesse your way through the defense by using the right analog stick in conjunction with the L2 button, granting you superb control over dribbling, allowing you to overcome and get past the defense or even trick the goalie before swiping the ball away last second, and then kicking it in. 360-degree dribbling also ensures that collision detection is setup fairly, so the chances of you losing a ball when the defender didn't even do a proper job of taking it from you has become very slim, as I've noticed.
Moreover, the game now performs automated player switching to the nearest ball carrier a lot more accurately than before. Where as sometimes in past FIFA games you'd be switched to a player behind the ball carrier, FIFA 10 now chooses wiser and more logically. Additionally, the A.I. is more aggressive at intercepting passes that roll by right next to them. Again, where as in past FIFA games this was not the case, the A.I. frequently watched a ball roll right by, this time around that's been fixed. So now you've got A.I. controlled players that behave a lot more realistically - no more careless cocking about.
As far as speed goes, the game isn't faster or slower. In fact, you can tailor speed to your liking. You can use set it to a slower speed, a normal speed, and a faster speed. Choices are always awesome! Also, I noticed that indirect free kicks no longer stop the game, as the game employs a continuity that keeps the action going seamlessly - the player will simply stop the ball and kick it when needed. Simply put, FIFA 10 is a colossal game, with a bevy of features and options that I can go on for days about. There is simply so much crammed into the game that I find it almost amazing we're getting such massive updates yearly, as opposed to every other year. Trust me, guys, this is the best playing football game you've ever laid your hands on.
Now, while the gameplay has received a mountain of enhancements, the graphics have largely remained the same. The game boasts largely the same visuals as FIFA 09, which isn't a bad thing, considering that FIFA 09 was a very good looking game. Player details are superb, physiques are modeled accurately (with the exception of a select few), animation is nice, stadium detail is on-point, and the grass looks good. Now, I did notice there to be a framerate issue during the automated instant replays and during the post-match replays. On the other hand, the framerate problem disappears when you're accessing the instant replay yourself. Odd. Don't worry though, the framerate is never bothersome during actual gameplay.
Moving on, commentary in FIFA 10 is still provided by our good pals Andy Gray and Martin Tyler. Commentary continues to be precise, oddly life-like, and very well done overall. We're not quite sure how the guys behind FIFA do it, but their commentary dialogue tends to be the most diverse, and doesn't repeat itself as much as other sports games do (with the exception of Sony's incredible MLB games). Also, a soundtrack consisting of a mix of songs, across a range of genres and languages can be heard during the menus. The songs are nothing to complain about, but nothing great, either.
FIFA 10 has been available in Europe since the beginning of October, so chances are, the European guys have already secured their copies and are loving every second. Meanwhile for us Yanks, we just got our game a few days ago, and here I am telling you that it is the best damn football game ever made. Normally, I tell people to buy sports games every other year, but not in the case of FIFA 10. FIFA 09 was a great game last year, but EA managed to really go overboard and add a ton of new features and enhancements, giving every fan of last year's game a full blown reason to own this all new one.