It’s the fag end of the year and time for the two football video game giants to pit their annual fruits of labor in the ever shifting race for the top spot. This year EA Sports gets a head start with the European release of FIFA 2010. Many of us had forsaken FIFA as the football game of choice. But, the last two installments in the series showed developers at EA were finally beginning to understand the game. Let’s find out if FIFA 10 is another commendable effort in the progressive run of sequels or if this is a step backwards.
What’s in the game?
The most touted addition (or improvement as they like to call it) is the “360° Dribbling” system. At least in theory, this means greater control over the player with the ball. In our experience however, dribbling in FIFA remains something of a dark art. Mastering dribbling (and the complementing skill moves) in FIFA seem to require ninja-like reflexes and skills while handling the game pad. If you ever find yourself looking for some close control to go past a challenging player, the only option seems to be unleashing a Skill Move. As the name suggests, these require just as much skill to pull off as their real-life versions. For mere mortals as us, the most reliable way of taking shots at the goal is still pretty much about through passes and outpacing your opponents with certain players.
Crosses and often even short passes are still a case of hit-and-miss—an old grievance players have had with FIFA apparently remains unaddressed. Another significant change with FIFA this year, is the effect of a player’s current form on his performance and vice-versa. This effectively means all the players in your team will have dynamic attributes. If you want to add some realism in the game, this makes a lot of sense.
Additionally, the effect form has on player stats is quite profound, at times changing them by as much as ten points. Tackling has become more effective at taking away possession of the ball. This is mainly because the game allows tackling from behind and mostly avoiding a foul. Referees seem to be quite inconsistent at calling foul on such tackles, so the best option for the player with the ball is to pass it instead of shielding.
Single player career modes
Manager mode and Pro Season (now called Virtual Pro) have been beefed up with some new features. The most apparent change in the Manager mode is in the menu system and the overall interface.
Pro career mode has been given a wider scope, allowing you to use your created player with other single player game modes like Manager Mode and Kick Off in addition to online game modes. A scrapbook style tracker of your career has been added to enhance this mode. Achieving certain milestones gives additional bonus to your players’ attributes and also unlocks additional game content like football gear, goal celebrations and player traits.
Besides all the bells and whistles, after playing 70 odd matches, issues with the core system starts emerging. The game is not too bad, but we did have a few bad experiences with the Manager Mode and the Pro Season. The worst of all was losing my saved games in both these modes. Some other issues faced include game locking up, several animation glitches and unresponsive game controller.
We thought of browsing through the discussion forum on the official web site to check if this was just a case of bad karma on our part. As it turns out, users have reported issues as severe as players just disappearing from the roster, only to find him playing for some other club. This is just one example, as one of the more resourceful users on the forum had compiled a list of minor and major issues reported about the game — the last count was almost 70 in Manager Mode alone.
If you do not look beyond exhibition matches, no more than three or four matches in a single seating, you may actually like this game. Overall this feels like a rushed product, at least through the testing phase. There are some very prominent bugs in the single-player career mode that can be noticed after just a few matches.
Even when considering a single match, the game mechanics do not allow for a free-flowing game. An aggressive defense system, a relatively inadequate dribbling mechanics, disappointing passing and crossing and referees often getting in the way, makes for a very stifled and ping-pong style of matches. If you are like me and need a year-long football fix, then we suggest holding on to your existing football game or maybe wait and hope for Konami to deliver).
Score : 6/10
Genre : Sports
Platforms : PS 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Microsoft Windows, PS 2, Nintendo DS, PSP
Developer : EA Canada
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Price : Rs. 1,499 – Rs. 2,499 (depends on platform)