FIFA Soccer 2010

Posted on 10 April 2010 by Fahad Majidi

If pride didn’t play such a big part in the options of some gamers, and even critics, people would have been more ready to admit that FIFA 09 was very nearly on a par with Pro Evolution Soccer 9. For the past decade or more, EZ has been expert at building franchises and squeezing profits; a skill set that has earned it an ambiguous reputation. This led to FIFA being held up as a fine example of how the company has let standards and innovation slip in favor of exploiting brand potential. A gulf in quality began to form; one that widened with each passing year and every new iteration.

The marketing brawn at EA’s disposal kept FIFA well placed in the sales charts, but the fact remained that Pro Evolution was the expert’s choice, and to most developers that’s the one that really matters. Simulating a sport is no simple thing. After all, the actual reality may not necessarily translate into spellbinding gameplay, but Konami had struck an elegant balance between realism and fun that EA simply couldn’t rival. FIFA had official player names, but Pro Evolution provided the richer experience. FIFA had the celebrity, but Pro Evolution had the prestige.

Whether you entirely agree with the level of suspicion heaped upon EA as a publisher and developer, it is difficult to deny that the company has, at times, been guilty of overselling its properties. This is perfectly acceptable so long as the product is consistently good and that hasn’t always been the case, the last few years have seen EA setup up its commitment to keeping its sports games fresh. FIFA 10 must stand as proof that Konami’s crown is under imminent threat. On this evidence, if EA continues this level of year-on-year improvement, and Pro Evo fails to innovate, 2011 could be the year when the power changes hands.

Where FIFA has previously relied on its license and gimmicks, this year all the refinement is in the gameplay. EA has been placing greater emphasis on analogue control in all of its sports games – the forthcoming Skate 3 using it particularly well – and in FIFA 10 it is being used to significantly refine the passing system. It is no longer enough that you simply push the stick in the vague direction of a player to make an accurate pass. FIFA demands a greater degree of precision than any recent football game; the ball will usually go in exactly the direction you are aiming, so there had better be a player waiting, or one running to fill the space.

In FIFA 10 a similar movement would take a great deal of technique, regardless of your opponent. This places more of the action in the center of the park and gives you a greater chance of losing the ball in defense or midfield, making the experience of playing FIFA more like the real thing than any game we can think of. Any deadlock in midfield can be broken using the refined through-ball system – played using a power bat, and pushing any direction, allowing you far greater control when releasing players in attack. In addition to this, the ball physics – already far ahead of Pro Evolution last year – have been improved again, meaning that factors like body shape, pace and angle also play a far greater role in the outcome of any shot or pass.

After spending so long simply trying to emulate Pro Evo, FIFA now feels like it has own specific take on the game. One that’s very different from that offered by Konami, but no less entertaining and, depending on personal taste, perhaps even superior in some respects. Football games can only truly be judged by extensive play and scrutiny, but on this evidence Konami would be foolish to rest on its laurels for much longer.

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