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FIFA World Cup 2010 Review
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EA Sports are back again with their inaugural World Cup game and considering the last one was back on the system launch of the Xbox 360 it has been some time since we’ve seen what they can offer to the public to encapsulate the grandeur and of course the essence of football itself. When the 2006 World Cup game released it was considered at the time one of EA’ s most consummate releases, go back to that game now and it feels like you are kicking around a sponge football all the while the keepers having super human reactions. Speed forward to today and EA Sports are in a much more favoured position, they are now the leading publisher for football games with the PES license dwindling into a spiral of mediocrity. So we’ve laced up our boots, taken a rollicking from Capello and the big match is upon us, so how does it fare?

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The layout to FIFA World Cup 2010 is very similar to that of its 2008 European counterpart Euro 2008. In fact it is exactly the same bar one online feature. You can get stuck in on ‘Kick Off’, push yourself to be the next England starlet in ‘Captain your country’ and play the whole tournament format from start to finish, or just the finals itself. We’ll come to the online later, so let’s break down these two areas. If anything was different from Euro 2008 to World Cup 2010 is that EA Sports have thrown in some more statistical information in both game modes, whether it be a richer detailed ranking system for your created player (and the ability of adding your game face) or simply providing a ticker style website news landing page for the main competition outlay. It’s a throw away from FIFA 10’s core presentation and we’re glad that is the case. Oddly whilst the practice arena is still available, it’s not where you reside by default and whilst it’s in the offline game modes, it’s completely redundant whilst waiting for matches to load online.

In ‘Captain your country’ you play through a seasonal format in an attempt to rise up into the first team nationals. To help you do this EA have included the player rankings system where you’ll be ranked alongside NPC’s or three of your local team mates if you decide to use the 4-player support for this mode. Whilst simple it is addictive but whether you have the patience to watch most of the match pan out without the ball is a matter of personal preference, it’s most certainly now more refined than Konami’s ‘Become a legend’ mode on PES. In terms of the World Cup format you can play all of your matches or just the group stage if you are lazy. To add to the longevity and the achievement hunting you can also play custom tournaments. Achievements are a nice variety, you will have to work hard to get many of them, EA have done well rewarding you for winning group stage and cups with half star teams and for the hardcore footy fan, playing these out on World Class is one hell of a tough test that if passed will leave you completely elated. EA have pushed further than ever offering 199 teams to play with from every region of the world, so many that it’s quite the geographical lesson when you stumble across countries you have never heard of before. Player attributes seem well researched and kits and badges are all replicates to finite accuracy.

Hurdle round

The remaining modes to be had in the game are ‘Story of Qualifying’ which is basically the scenarios system. You’ll face objectives and try and turn around key games that have taken place in the qualifying campaign, beat all of your objectives and famous matches from Euro 96 will become available to play as well. This game mode can be enjoyed on any difficulty you want. We prefer to tackle this on World Class for the upmost challenge. If a game feature stands out more than any other in this mode then it is most definitely the altitude system that has been implemented within the game. Throw Argentina against Bolivia and you’ll be battling against tiredness to recover from a 5-1 drubbing, the game mode is brilliant with a reward at the end of your endeavours. The last mode (without touching the online multiplayer) is a brand new feature to any FIFA game to date; penalties. It could be argued that taking penalties in FIFA games have been all too easy for the last decade, push direction and shoot, goal or save. Now to add to the nerves you now have to shoot using your right analogue stick when combined with the accuracy and power meters, trust me you won’t score straight away, in fact it’s so alien to us that we’re still struggling to score plenty of goals. The penalty system is great and it really does take into effect how nervous you are when playing, especially when you are up against a fellow human opponent.

Now let’s get into tackling the online element before I go off into a massive run down of the gameplay. Xbox Live will feature your standard head to head mode whilst your online tournaments will go towards the overall battle of the nations ranking. Battle of the nations is a cumulative ranking score for all countries culminating in win ratios from countries across the world. It’s a mode we are constantly reminded by Clive Tyldesley who annoyingly tells us who is leading, ironically it’s the Scottish who are winning at the moment, (unemployment rates must be at a record high) sorry I couldn’t resist. This time round the online tournament takes shape by playing three group stage games first, instead of the knock-out option that was on Euro 2008. We particularly like this mode because you can lose a match and still qualify for the knock-out stages. Online is a love/hate affair, for whichever reason FIFA World Cup 2010 doesn’t cope well with matches hosted across continents and what with the battle of nations mode integral to playing foreign opponents, button lag can be a real hindrance. Whilst it doesn’t happen all of the time, we can go on record and say that FIFA 10 handled this problem a lot better.

Heads up!

Sorry for leaving it late, but you may be asking; how does this game play? Well, for those that are fans of the realism you are going to be pleased even more so than when FIFA 10 hit the shelves last year. World Cup has a host of refinements that really change the way you play the game. Standing tackles can now result in penalties in the box, the keeper no longer runs forward like he has a hot potato up his ass every time there is a 1 on 1 situation leaving the lob harder to execute and more rewarding when it hits the onion bag. As mentioned the new altitude and tiredness system can really be felt, so mixing up substitutes now seems to have a direct result to the gameplay. Crosses have more power and feel less ‘floaty’ and the ball definitely has more weight, resulting in harder to execute finesse shots but more long range screamers. If the game suffers anywhere it’s down to EA’s own decision to make the auto-switching settings low. Whilst this isn’t felt so much offline, throw a game online and player selection doesn’t seem fast enough, with a bit of tweaking this can be ironed out and the game will feel crisper and more responsive than that of FIFA 10.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the visuals and the audio. We saw the potential of what EA could do back in the 2006 game, but here they have gone above and beyond expectation in encapsulating the whole experience. All 10 of the World Cup 2010 stadiums have been beautifully re-created with some of the practice arenas and the aerial settings of stadiums looking blissfully lush with detail. Stadium effects include ticker taping (which happens to stay on the pitch during play) flash photography and better fan models than before. Pitch details is up there, if not better than PES2010 which has meant that EA have caught up graphically with PES. Player face models are detailed but a little lacking in authenticity, a good example of how hit and miss they are is Stephen Gerrard whom looks nothing like him at all. Crowds of every nation can be heard in unique styles; whether it’s the sounds of Samba from Brazil or the rich drums of Cameroon the level of detail is quite empathic. EA have given the football more audio clout too, hit a thunderbolt at the advertising hoardings and you’ll hear the metallic ping, rustle the back of the net and you’ll hear that too. The sound is fantastic and even the commentary has some added lines mentioning memorable matches, form and rivalries. Unfortunately Clive Tyldesley comes up with some rather stupid commentary lines such as ‘he needs to look after the ball better’ and for whichever reason, even if they were included in FIFA 10 they tend to stand out in this title much more. Anyone would think Clive has mild delusions that a football is Shannon Matthews and that the player is Karen Matthews. Moaning aside, if he irritates you that much just mute him, it’s time EA Sports had a reshuffle anyway, John Motson is in retirement, give him some work!

World Cup 2010 has pushed boundaries again and will be a blueprint for FIFA 11. Everything feels further refined and whilst the beautiful finesse goals feel few and far between FIFA 10 executed them all too often. Don’t be disillusioned though as for much praise as we can give this game, it’s still lacking in features to keep you coming back months after the competition is ended, it is then a gap filler until EA’s next heavyweight sports title, which will no doubt blow PES out of the water again.

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FIFA World Cup 2010 Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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