Review: FIFA ’10 (Microsoft Xbox 360)

FIFA ’10
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Genre: Realistic Sports Simulation
Release Date:10/2/2009(EU) – 10/20/2009(NA)

I wasn’t intending to review this year’s football games initially; simply put, I didn’t have a whole lot of time on my hands at the time they were released, and had a slew of games coming in that I was mandated to review, so I figured that I’d leave it alone, lest I put out a review that was less than timely. Unfortunately, this meant that I got the busiest time of the year at the same time two NBA games and two football games came out. Oh well.

All of that came to a screeching halt, when Mohamed Al-Saadoon reviewed the PC version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, in which I was *heinously called out*:

“Another year, another iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer is released. I think by now it’s pretty clear I’m hopelessly addicted to the specific game franchise and will probably review it every year it comes out because of the mere two staffers on DHGF who have any knowledge of football (Not soccer, you steroid juicing jocks) I’m the only one who isn’t a backstabbing traitor and converted to the FIFA franchise (I’m looking at you Chris Bowen).”

Oh shit, son. It’s on now.

I almost feel like I have to defend my football gamer credentials against the onslaught of my former PES brethren. Thankfully, I’ll be receiving – thanks to DJ Tatsujin and Konami – a reviewable copy of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 for the 360. I’ll be able to not only compare the two football games with full reviews, I’ll be able to discuss them with Mohamed, our other football nut.

Therefore, this will be the first part of a three week special dedicated to both football games. Here is the schedule for the next three weeks:

Thursday, December 10 – Review of FIFA ’10 for the 360 (Today)
Thursday, December 17 – Pro Evolution Soccer ’10 for the 360
Thursday, December 24 – DHGF’s football experts, Mohamed Al-Saadoon and myself, discuss both football games, and come up with a consensus pick. Or duel to the death. Whichever comes first. (EDIT! – We will also have a review of the Wii version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 from Guy Desmarais!)

Going into this, my opinion – admittedly based around precious little experience with this year’s PES outside of the demo – is that FIFA’s a hard game to beat, and FIFA is the best playing football game on the market. However, there’s more to football than just on the pitch; does FIFA compete off the pitch as well?

Modes

There’s a lot to do in FIFA ’10, even out of the box. The main modes in the game are Manager Mode, Be a Pro: Seasons, Tournament Mode, and Lounge Mode, with online and Live Season 2.0 also entering in. There’s a lot to say here, so buckle up.

Manager Mode – I’ll start with Manager Mode, which EA Sports played up tremendously. “Things have CHANGED this year! It’s more realistic! You don’t need Football Manager ’10 anymore though we’d appreciate it if you bought FIFA Manager!” EA Sports spent so much time playing up their changes that I think they forgot to change anything. You first decide your team, and then start out as a manager with a low – half star – reputation. It doesn’t matter what team you pick; you’re a low rep manager. Managing Derry City in the Irish league? Half star. Chelsea? Half star. It’s kinda silly that you have to start so low, especially considering the fact that respect is so hard to get. You are given objectives at the beginning of the season depending on the trophies you’re able to win and the strength of your team; sometimes it’s to win a championship and maybe advance a few rounds in something like the FA Cup, sometimes it’s just to not get relegated. Depending on how you’re doing throughout the year, you will gain or lose a reputation point, and if you’re doing poorly, you could get fired and have the rest of the season be simulated without you being involved. One problem is that after that, if you do get fired for whatever reason, you’re only able to get jobs commensurate with your own reputation. So if you fail at Chelsea, Land of Unrealistic Expectations, you’re going to end up back in a very low league. Apparently, FIFA ’10 thinks everyone is Paul Ince. This wouldn’t be so hard if it wasn’t for the fact that reputation gains and losses are too focused and arbitrary. I took a League Two team Notts County to a shock win in the League Cup (Carling Cup); I WON the damn thing, shocking Arsenal, Tottenham, and finally Man City (all on penalties) along the way. I gained zero reputation. I didn’t gain reputation because the League Cup wasn’t on my list of things I had to do well in to please my board; they were happier that I beat Macclesfield to make the second round of the FA Cup than they were that a League Two team won the Carling Cup, and my reputation only went up on that note. If this happened in real life, my board would have supplied me with an endless supply of hookers and blow for the rest of my natural life.

Advancement in your team’s training and other departments such as scouting, player negotiations, and “stadium manager” (ie, how many fans can you fit into the stadium) is the same that it was in FIFA ’09: you put funds towards increasing your “level” in an area. This works fine enough for a game, but I don’t know how many times I have to tell EA that I don’t want “gamey” elements in my simulations. Compare this to Football Manager; if your board members decide that you can expand the stadium, it takes months of construction, at which point you lose the ability to fully house your stadium (for example, the Stadium of Light in Sunderland goes down to about 42K instead of 50K) before you can use the benefits of your labour. Here, it’s as easy as “OK, I’m going to spend half a million, let’s bring in the fans”, which in turn, depending on how your team is doing and your reputation, brings in money. It doesn’t help the realism of your game when you’ve got a system in that’s too much like some RPGs and city building games for comfort. Furthermore, this means there’s no separation between your club’s transfer budget and other things you need to spend money on; everything comes from the same kitty, which is very shortsighted, and since you have no other option than paying cash up front for transfers – believe me, I’ll get into the transfer market soon enough – it means that you have very little flexibility in terms of how to run your team on the financial side of things.

Team management is mostly cut and dry. You have the option of turning on the “Assistant Manager” option, which lets the computer manage who comes in and out of the game depending on fatigue and form. It’s a good option, but EA hasn’t gotten the kinks out of it yet, as I ended up turning it off before preseason friendlies were finished. What does bother me about this is that if someone ends up suspended or injured and you have the AM option turned off, you get a message before every game saying “you have an incomplete team! You must fix this or forfeit the next game!”. I can do team management before every game; you mean to tell me that I have to specifically take out an injured/suspended player – while upsetting my regular lineup – to have to remember to put him back in once whatever’s wrong with him is fixed? This is sloppy game management.

What I don’t understand is why there’s only a first team; there are no reserve fixtures, no youth academies, no way for your players to gain experience other than playing in first team fixtures. You can loan players out, but it’s not as valuable as it should be; the only real value comes in getting players off the books, salary-wise. This also means that to bring in new players, you have to go scouting; this isn’t too much of a problem, and is the best way to bring in anyone – including the transfer market” – to smaller market teams, but the players tend to be expensive, and you’re screwed if you’re too close to your wage cap.

Even the simple act of simulating games could have been done better. I concede that FIFA – or any football game, really – is not set up for mass simulation of games, but if I want to take a couple weeks, shouldn’t I be allowed to? I have to instead simulate one match at a time; for people that just want to get the season over with for whatever reason – maybe they clinched their championship, or they’re about to drop thousands of words on a months-late review of the game – this is arduous.

I’ve saved the worst for last: the transfer system in this game is an absolute travesty. You can only really have an expectation of picking off players that are specifically listed for transfer, and even then, the people listed for transfer are random; I saw Lionel Messi listed once! Let’s say you decide on a player that’s available for transfer, and decide to make a bid; you have to, in this step, decide what the player’s salary is. At the bottom of this step is a bar indicating the player’s probability of signing with your team. The problem with this is that the highest I’ve seen – with a full Negotiator rating – is 34%; to get that bar to move up, I had to offer a LOT more than market value. This isn’t a problem if you’re Barcelona, but for smaller clubs that have a small wage budget, this is a problem as it precludes the ability to bring in new players save for scouting them. Furthermore, there’s no rhyme or reason to players’ wage requests; low-rated (40ish) players sometimes ask for £2,500 a week – stupidly high money if you’re on a budget, even worse when you have to go above that to get them to sign – but players in the 70s can sometimes ask for only £1K, and there’s no way – like Football Manager, again – to see who’s asking for what until you go in and click on the player, meaning it’s necessary to click on every single player, one at a time, to see who’s affordable, who’s not, and who has any intention of going to your club. It gets worse; if you think you can fill a lower rated roster by taking some low-rated bargains, think again, as they’re almost definitely going to be a 0% chance of going to your team; the reason given when your offer is ultimately rejected is “they feel they will be one of many in your team”. So good players don’t want to play for anyone but the top clubs, bad players don’t want to risk sitting the pine, and mid-level players are trying to bleed your coffers dry … who the hell is left to sign? Signing transfers is almost impossible without doing your club a disservice, and the whole system is broken.

Don’t get me wrong; in terms of simulating what it’s like to play in club leagues at the professional level, FIFA does the right things; the seasons are the right length, relegation and promotion is done right, and it does the job in terms of the nitty-gritty. However, another thing that FIFA doesn’t take into account is the fact that different leagues have different rules. MLS has rules in terms of how many senior international players can be on a team. The A-League (Australia) has a salary cap. Scotland requires a spare goalkeeper on the bench. None of this is reflected in any Manager Mode in the game, and while there’s a lot of leagues to keep track of, it feels bare-bones compared to what it could be.

The question that I guess has to be asked is, what is keeping FIFA from creating an absolutely proper Manager Mode? I don’t know. Do they not trust that gamers want something that deep, like the NHL series has? Do they not have the engine for it? Or is it that they don’t want their main game competing with FIFA Manager, which goes for $50? I’m not sure, but FIFA missed a golden opportunity to make their Manager Mode actually be worth something.

Be a Pro: Seasons – EA changed the name to Be A Pro: Seasons to give the impression that something changed. In fact, this is the same exact BAP mode from last year; you get four seasons to make your pro as good as possible, and at the end of the four years, enter the huge international tournament. Not only is this no different than last year, but it means you *HAVE* to pick a country to represent that has a national team in the game. I can’t be Canadian; they don’t have a National Team in this game. That’s not a big deal; I know Canada’s team sucks. But then I tried being Wales; they don’t have one either, and unlike Canada, I KNOW they have a pretty decent team. I had to pick America in my game. At the end of four years, you’re rated on how you did, how many goals you scored, what level you got to (for club teams, it doesn’t care if you’re a top-flight player for a low-level team or a high one), and if you did enough with the international team to make the big tournament at the end. Notwithstanding the fact that the whole mode sounds like the plot for a Disney movie, some of the goals you have to do to get noticed can be stupidly hard (like, “shoot ten times”, “win by five goals”, and “have a rating of 10” in the same match), and it just seems like one needlessly arbitrary mess.

BAP mode is fun, don’t get me wrong. But there was a lot to fix last year, and none of it was fixed.

Tournament Mode – This is the standard tournament mode that lets you recreate seasons, cups or what have you, or create your own. This is exactly the same as last year, and works just as well.

Lounge Mode – Just like last year, this was thrown in basically to please the casual fans. One to twenty teams can engage in a series of matches for “badges” – things such as who has the most stamina, who has better possession, etc. – and can also use cards to enhance their abilities. These cards – like taking out a team’s best player – are Mario Kart-level cheap. I know in the one match I could tolerate in this mode, I went into the half – of a Wear-Tyne Derby, mind – scoreless, and didn’t realize something was wrong until the announcers made light of the fact that the game was a blowout. I looked up, and noticed I was losing 2-0. This was notable considering I hadn’t given up any goals at all, and eventually figured out that it was a card they played before the game.

Needless to say, unless you’re playing with local friends that you secretly hate, this mode is a waste, and is thankfully completely disposable.

Live Season 2.0 – This is similar to last year, in that you’re able to replay every game from a top-flight season, with that team’s form (the better a player was playing going into that game in the real-life season, the better they’re going to be in Live Season), and try to redo the season.

If you’re a fan of Live Season, this year’s version is better. So much so, that they aren’t even giving one league away for free anymore. Last year, you were able to get one Live Season – I picked the Premiership – for free. This year, you have a five game demo, and after that, you have to pay for any league you continue with. Due to this, I haven’t been able to fully review Live Season 2.0 – piss off, I already had to purchase this game, I’m not spending extra – but the five game demo I tried out did do everything that EA stated it would. Ironic that the one mode that does what we’re told it does costs extra money.

Online – For all its failings in Manager and BAP modes, online play knocks it out of the park. Nothing has drastically changed from last year, but that’s because EA built the best online package in any sports game, ever. Do you want to play a standard game? Have fun! Extra players want to get involved? Have fun! How about leagues? We support that!

Now, how would you like to play in Be A Pro mode, with nineteen other people at the same time? Awesome, have at it! Only this year, you can get on teams and compete for championships, the way it’s done in NHL ’10. This isn’t a good thing for more casual players because you almost have to be recruited to a team – like a good clan – in order to get anything out of it (public teams are useless) – but if you’re a regular FIFA player, this is the greatest thing in the history of things. Not only is it organized very well, but you can take your Virtual Pro (see Replayability) online as well, and gain stats for him, just like NHL ’10.

Even if you’re not on a team, you can still play team play. When opened up to the general public, this isn’t as fun. The play itself is fine – it’s just like BAP mode – but the worst part of any public game is the public. I haven’t had a single game that hasn’t been ruined by assholes doing something stupid. Whether it was someone passing back to his goalkeeper – and taking control by default – so they could score own goals, or the guys that decide they don’t want to play anymore so they slide around the pitch like baseball players to take red cards, or the people that just decide they want to quit mid-game, when you allow up to twenty people into a game, you WILL find a jackass that ruins it for everyone, especially on Live, the cesspool of online play. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way for people to be kicked; every time someone’s decided to give the other team a 5-0 start, there was nothing anyone could do because we couldn’t just kick the person involved; we had to wait until they got bored and took a red card, or make it a point to keep them off the ball. I would strongly recommend EA add in a way for team captains to boot people that are being morons, or at least have it be a filterable option; as it is, the only thing that’s ruining online play are the online players.

Ultimately, I have niggles about a lot of things in the individual modes, but one thing has to be considered: I’m almost 3,400 words into my review and I’m just on modes. There is a LOT to do in this game. It’s unprecedented to have this much to do, this many ways to play the game. No matter what your game is, you will find a way to play it.

I just can’t guarantee you won’t be frustrated once you find your chosen way to play.

Modes Rating: Decent

Graphics

By the standards of other EA Sports games, FIFA ’10 isn’t too pretty. There are noticeable jaggies when zoomed out, and players sometimes clip through other players during animations. With that said, player animations are spot-on; there are so many subtle ways to handle the ball, be it juggling, doing moves, regular motions, shooting or anything that has to happen during the course of playing a football match, that it’s easy to get things wrong. To EA’s credit, they got nothing wrong. Trust me when I say this; that’s massively impressive considering the sheer amount of animation that has to go into the sheer amount of ways a ball can be handled, a tackle can be performed, a save can be made, etc. I’ll take that over good player models any day of the week.

Stadiums look OK; there’s a few real stadiums such as Camp Nou in the game, and they look impressive (especially via BAP mode), but there are other stadiums in the game for general use, depending on a team’s level and geography. There’s very little in this year’s game that wasn’t in last year’s game, but what’s here gets the job done.

Graphics Rating: Good

Sound

On-pitch sounds are spot-on and extremely atmospheric. Everything from the ball to woodwork to communication is very well done. If there’s one thing I wish for, it’s for EA to have a size-relevant crowd; the crowd sounds the same no matter what, whether it’s a tiny League Two stadium or Santiago Bernabéu. Smaller stadiums should be a little quieter, and Camp Nou should ROAR when Barcelona scores.

Englishman Martin Tyler and former Scotland and Wolves star Andy Gray return as the English speaking commentary pair this year, and as usual, they’re spot-on; they say a lot, vary it up a lot, know a lot of names (a big deal in a game with as many players as this), and have custom things that they say for bigger teams, rivalry/derby matches, and the like. It’s one of the best pairings in not only all of videogame sports, but in all of football. That in itself would be impressive, but FIFA (at least in America) also ships with two other commentary languages – French, and Mexican Spanish – that are also very good (or at least sound good; my command of French is passable, but forget Spanish). If you speak a language other than those, no problem! Other languages – a LOT of them – are available via DLC. Every language one could think of is affordably priced in the FIFA Store. THIS is what you should be using DLC for! Instead of trying to sell us things we could unlock, give us things that expand upon the game’s package and make it better for people that need it.

As usual, EA put forth their EA Trax list of international acts, and like past years, it’s a highly eclectic list of acts ranging from mainstream to electronica to reggae and all points in between. When you have a list of songs this varied, there are going to be some hits and some misses, and that’s pretty much the case this year as well. I can’t punish a game on its soundtrack unless it has some extremely questionable selections – like adding rap to a hockey game, or The Smiths to a basketball game – and FIFA ’10 doesn’t.

Sound Rating: Great

Control and Gameplay

Go back to my huge Modes section. Remember all the complaints I had about specifics within the modes? Those are all about to melt away, because the gameplay in FIFA ’10 is sublime.

The biggest quantifiable difference between this year’s game and ’09 is 360 degree dribbling. For those that don’t regularly play football games, imagine a digital pad that only lets you move in eight directions; even with analogue control, football games have been just that limited in terms of how to dribble the ball, which would cause issues in terms of getting around tackling defenders. Now, dribbling is totally 360 degrees, meaning if you move – putting zero at the left, and 180 at the right – in a 171 degree angle, you can dribble in that direction exactly. Trust me, this is a VERY significant change that is bigger in actuality than it is on paper.

In fact, most of the changes in FIFA ’10 look small on paper; however, by that note, Newcastle United isn’t a Championship team on paper. Defensive AI has improved vastly; last year, it was very easy to expose the back line on through balls and chips, whereas this year, you have to work your passing angles better, and if you’re playing as a striker in BAP mode, you have to work harder to get your runs in. Jostling for balls in the air is also better this year, as strength, positioning and size play a very important part of getting headers, and you have to consider a defensive player’s height more than in past games when putting them into the squad. Due to this, aerial passing is more realistic. Everything is just … better. Just like NHL ’10, EA put a lot of time into the subtleties of football, making this a game that, unless I’m VERY surprised by PES ’10, is the best game of football I’ve ever played.

Despite all of this, the game is not perfect. For one, play in this game tends to lean on the physical side; you practically have to be run over by a truck to draw a foul, and only sliding tackles draw cards. It’s possible to just shoulder players off the ball while they’re running here, and there’s an awful lot of jostling with running players that would get called in most leagues. I think we’re not far enough along yet where I can ask for different play styles in different countries – for example, the Premiership and German Bundesliga are very physical, whereas Holland’s Eredivisie focuses more on intricate ball movement – but I do think there should be a slider for this sort of thing, and how officials call each game. As it is, each game is officiated the same, which I believe is something to be improved upon. Furthermore, goalies are still a bit too inconsistent; on the one hand, they’ll let some real clangers in, and they’re very easy to chip as they come way off their lines on one-on-ones. On the other hand, it’s still impossible to round them, you HAVE to beat them with a shot or they’ll pounce on the ball, and they don’t give up penalties. This goes on defence as well; pressing the Y button to charge the goalkeeper out is a virtually guaranteed save.

BAP mode also has some flaws. The default camera focuses a lot on the area in front of you, causing a lot of blind back-passes. Furthermore, the grading scale in terms of getting your match rating is a bit flawed. Things like missing tackles isn’t that bad, but letting the opposition complete a pass as a defensive player isn’t something I can necessarily do anything about. Furthermore, as an attacking player, things like being caught offside take a lot of points off, while getting shots blocked is almost cause to be executed at The Hague. What’s worse is that points get taken off no matter what; it’s a set scale. You could have a ten point match up to the 89th minute, and then have a header in a crowded area hit a defender, get dinged for a blocked shot, and end up at 9.4 with no time to get that back. These are relatively minor flaws, considering how intuitive BAP mode is from a playing perspective.

Overall, while things might be different off the pitch, between the sidelines, this is the best game of football in history.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Classic

Replayability

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Virtual Pro.

Most sports games allow you to create players; there’s nothing new about that. Last year’s FIFA and the past couple versions of NHL have put players into the game with Be a Pro, taking it one step further. FIFA ’10 takes it one step even further by adding in the Virtual Pro. After creating your pro – and being given the option of setting up and uploading a “game face” on your computer, in an involved but surprisingly intuitive process that actually created something that looked like me, and not something my mother would beat away thinking it was an alien that took my skin – you can put that pro on a team, and every time that pro plays, he’s able to gain stats based on an achievement system that gives rating points towards accomplishments; for example, scoring from outside the box improves your long shot skill, and playing in ten matches increases your stamina. These are one-shot deals, so once you hit an achievement, you can’t score it again. That means that your player can hit a theoretical wall if you’re having problems picking up certain achievements, and not get any better. However, there’s a very nice split between easy achievements (like just scoring a goal), harder ones (a volley with my weaker foot from outside the box? Seriously?), and endurance achievements (playing X amount of games, scoring Y goals, etc.) that there will always be a way for your player to get better. In addition to rote stats, the harder achievements also can unlock skills, everything from having the crowd cheer louder to making your player a better dribbler. The player can get stats everywhere, from the arena, to any matches he plays in. You’re nodded by the game to use your virtual pro anytime you start BAP mode, and if you start a new Manager Mode, you’re invited to bring your player along to whatever team you take over, where your Virtual Pro doesn’t count against the wage bill, and is signed in perpetuality; he’s yours forever, and goes with you if you change teams. This gets interesting if you take over a smaller, low-level club; even starting out, your virtual pro is good enough to make most teams, and he gets good fairly quickly, so it’s possible to add an elite level player that’s twice as good as his teammates for no charge and no worries about his contract being up or him being transferred.

Furthermore, it’s possible to take your Virtual Pro online and play him with other Virtual Pros against other Virtual Pros, and have your stats increase through those games as well, just like NHL ’10’s team play online option. I unfortunately have not had a chance to try this – every time I play in team play, I end up taking an existing player on an existing team for some reason – but just having that option is mind-blowing.

How does this tie into replayability? FIFA ’10 already has a bunch of ways to play and enjoy the game, and now, they’ve given gamers a way to integrate themselves into the game that could last for years. If they can make it so that our virtual pros are importable into FIFA ’11 and on, there’s no telling where the franchise will go. FIFA is no longer a finite experience; there’s always an incentive to play matches now, and to never simulate. In short, it’s virtual crack cocaine.

If that’s not enough, the sheer amount of leagues to play, teams to play as, cups to win, and things to try are staggering. There are thirty-one leagues and over five-hundred teams – actual teams with actual players – featured in FIFA ’10, including the lower levels of leagues in the bigger countries like England, Italy, Spain, etc. If you have an open mind and play outside of your country of choice, you will have an immense amount of fun, for a long, long time.

There has never been a sports game with this level of replayability, full stop.

Replayability Rating: Unparalleled

Balance

Football is beautiful in that, in a match between two evenly matched teams, there’s always a tactic that can be used, and a tactic to counter the first tactic. FIFA is no different in that regard, though there’s a flaw in that here and there. In terms of gameplay, the flanks are highly exploitable; when playing other people, most of the time, I was burned the most by players just sending a through ball to their wings, and running all the way down to the box; from there, they could back-pass, or just dick around with the ball all day on the flank (no, I don’t strongly dislike playing online, why do you ask?). There’s also no stopping people that decide to tackle hard due to the fact that only missing a sliding challenge is going to draw a card; most competitive matches I’ve been a part of more closely resembled rugby than football at times. Still, one could easily argue that I could have fixed the flank problem by widening my tactics and ensuring my wing back stepped wide, so it’s not totally the game’s fault.

In terms of other areas of balance, it’s just like real football; if you’re managing a team that has money, life is easier. It’s easier to get something done at Chelsea than at Cork City just due to resources. FIFA recreates that, though there’s just a bit too much emphasis on money in manager mode.

Balance Rating: Above Average

Originality

On the one hand, this is an annual sports release, and has been since the days of the Mega Drive; how original can a yearly release be, especially one that promised us more off-pitch than it delivered, making a lot of the game a bit too close to ’09 for comfort?

On the other hand … seriously, do I have to talk about Virtual Pro again? Never has a game immersed the player into a game and simultaneously fueled our inner dreams of being professional athletes quite like this one, and made the experience so rewarding. That is worth a lot in my book, and almost singlehandedly makes FIFA ’10 purchase-worthy, even for people that own last year’s game.

Originality Rating: Good

Addictiveness

Considering the sheer amount of things to do in this game, and the pick up and play nature of the games themselves, it’s extremely easy to end up in “one more game” territory; half defaults are five minutes (I up that to seven), so games go very quickly, so it’s easy to get through a stretch of games, keep trying for “one more”, and finally realize it’s four AM and you have to be up at eight, or realize “hey, you have a deadline in six hours, your fiancée is scheduled to edit tonight, and if you turn this in to her at 10PM, she’s going to literally build you a doghouse to sleep in for the next two weeks”.

No, I’m not struggling to put the damn controller down and focus, why do you ask?

Addictiveness Rating: Very Good

Appeal Factor

Measuring the appeal factor for a football game is hard. I live in America, so “soccer” is barely on the radar in terms of sports; most Americans only care about the NFL, since that’s what ESPN tells them to care about. This game does not appeal to most sports gamers who are too busy playing Madden to pay attention to a sport that most of my friends (only the ones who never played football, of course) call a “fag sport”. God bless America.

On the other hand, it’s currently December 9th, and FIFA is still at or near the top of most sales charts in the UK and the rest of the EU, being usurped only by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Whatever Madden is in America, multiply that by ten for FIFA and PES.

In America, this is a modest release. In the EU/UK, this is Dragon Quest in Japan-huge. I’ll cut it down the middle and say…

Appeal Factor Rating: Very Good

Miscellaneous

On the one hand, this game has me enthralled; between this and NHL ’10, EA Sports essentially owns whatever part of my video game time isn’t dedicated to reviewing games. Even now, I have FIFA playing on pause, while I have Football Manager ’10 running in the background. Don’t bother calling an addiction centre on my behalf, because I don’t want to be cured.

On the other hand, I’m very annoyed that we were promised a beautiful thing with a “new” Manager Mode and an “improved” BAP: Seasons mode, and got a turd sandwich. EA has to improve things off the pitch significantly for FIFA ’11, and if that means they have to take a few queues from Football Manager to do that while simultaneously stepping on FIFA Manager, so be it, because FIFA Manager sucks.

I will say this, though: this game has been out in America for a month and a half, and even then, for the purposes of this review, I had to do a lot of fact checking in the game, via placebo game saves, to get accurate information in terms of mode progression; in short, after seven weeks, I didn’t know enough about this game to comfortably review it because it’s too deep. Let me ask this politely: HOW IN THE HOLY HELL ARE “LEGITIMATE” REVIEW SITES REVIEWING THIS GAME BEFORE DAY OF RELEASE? This is a serious question! Unlike most games I review, I did read reviews of this game because I’ve had it for so long, and most of the things I noticed either were ignored by mainstream sites or gotten totally wrong, and yet they still gave the game nines in most cases. Pardon my language, but are you people fucking kidding me? Did you have your scores ready before you even received the game? Did you give the game one hour? Two? Or did you get “in-depth” and give it the entire three hours before lunch one day? When I reviewed NHL ’10, I essentially spent the entire week playing the game so I could get out a timely review after getting it on the day of release; that frame of time wouldn’t have been truly sufficient this time. You people mean to tell me you got proper reviews out in that small a frame of time? I call bullshit.

Apologies for my soapbox rant, but that had to be said.

Miscellaneous Rating: Enjoyable

The Scores
Modes: Decent
Graphics: Good
Sound: Great
Control and Gameplay: Classic
Replayability: Unparalleled
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Very Good
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME


Short Attention Span Summary
FIFA ’10 is the perfect evolution of a football game that came seemingly out of nowhere – remember, this was not a good football series until very recently – and usurped Pro Evolution’s title as the best football game on the market. There are still off-pitch issues, but on the pitch, where it matters, there’s nothing better.

We’ll see how Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 performs next week. However, it’s got an extremely tall order in being as good as FIFA ’10

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