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2010 FIFA World Cup Review

The football season is over and the World Cup is fast approaching, which can only mean one thing; it’s time for an EA Sports World Cup game. But instead of being just 32 teams battling it out in the same tournament over and over again and not much else in the form of content, EA has tried to justify the second FIFA title to be released in a year. Adding a whole host of modes including online FIFA World Cup, Captain Your County and a Story of Qualifying mode does 2010 FIFA World Cup justify a full game price tag?

First off 2010 WC offers 199 international teams from Bermuda to Brazil, wherever you are from you will be able to take your country to world cup glory, well probably not if you’re trying with The Cook Islands… Its great to have the full selection of national teams though as one of my main gripes with FIFA 10 was a lack of international teams, including those who had qualified for the world cup such as Korea DPR and Honduras – shame they don’t all have licensed kits though.

EA have definitely nailed the atmosphere of South Africa without over doing the vuvuzela horns but still ramping up the excitement thanks to the changed commentary team of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. It does get a bit creepy when they talk about how great stadiums are when they wouldn’t have even been to them yet… The crowds are great too with varying chants and music instruments playing from England’s brass band to South American sambas, there are even some dodgy cut scenes involving 4 fans who always seem to be dancing wearing the colours of whoever is playing. The graphics have been given a slight overhaul with the much improved lighting making the biggest impact and most player faces now more detailed with Crouch looking much closer to the real player and the bald headed players sporting a bit of shine from sweat. Unfortunately there’s still a weird stretching quality applied to the shirt textures most prominent when looking at the letters on the back which just looks odd. There is promise of a patch on Tuesday that will update all the squads with the official rosters for the tournament making this as authentic as it can be.

Aside from playing just the World Cup mode you can also qualify for the tournament using any of the 199 teams from across the world, so even if your country didn’t make it in real life they still can in the virtual world. There is also a new Story of Qualifying mode, which is a most welcome addition and features actual events that happened in the qualification. For example you can try recreate Argentina’s last gasp goal to qualify or you can try and get Ireland to the World Cup after Henry’s handball. These are nice dramatic episodes and can be as long as the last few minutes of a match to almost full games. Often the main requirement is to win but there are the odd scenarios where you defend a lead. For each scenario there are 3 objectives to obtain e.g. don’t attain any yellow cards or win by 2 goals, which adds replay value with you returning to achieve all 3. After you have unlocked enough of these you get to take part in scenarios from 2006 World Cup and throughout the real World Cup in 2010, scenarios will be added “hours after the game” allowing you to replay the drama that just unfolded, it’s a great interactive feature allowing you to get more involved with the real world drama.

The main draw to FIFA World Cup is the online world cup mode where you play out the tournament against human opponents. Instead of playing against the A.I. controlled teams you instead play your matches against human opposition. In theory this sounds great but in practice it proves inconsistent, this is because of FIFA’s biggest problem, enter the rage quitters this results with the teams in your group having no consistent form. So you may have particular nations in your group but it might not be the same player controlling them each time. It makes the group stages very unpredictable and removes the realistic consistency but I do appreciate it’s impossible to make 32 players all stay online at once. It just means that the team everyone else thrashed in your group can suddenly be amazing when you play them. There is also a Captain Your Country mode allowing you to import your crate a pro from FIFA 10 to play for your country and win the world cup as their captain. It was a well received mode from Euro 2008 and it’s great to see it return, there is now an added element where you’re competing/co-operating with 3 other players in your team trying to earn a better match rating whilst still achieving victory for the team.

Gameplay wise the major changes that I noticed were related to movement on the ball so you can now chest the ball and turn in one smooth movement and it’s now possible to jinx past defenders by changing direction at the right moment which was not previously possible. They haven’t made it easy to dribble past everyone and run it in but it has made it a bit more difficult to defend when playing online, I’ve definitely had higher scoring games when playing online in 2010 FWC than in FIFA 10. There are a lot less lobbed goals now, a problem in FIFA 10 where it was far too easy to chip the keeper has been fixed and in fact the keepers are pretty much perfect now. The advantage calls are a bit unreliable with advantages given in your own penalty area and more annoyingly when playing a through ball the referee will inexplicably call play back denying you a 1 on 1 opportunity. Despite these minor niggles though 2010 FIFA World Cup plays a fantastic game of football as ever. It’s not perfect by any means but if you’ve got that world cup itch and need a fix then you need look no further.

Won the World Cup with England and failed repeatedly at the quarter final stage online. Played through Story of Qualifying enough to unlock 2006 scenarios and dabbled in Captain Your Country mode.

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of 2010 FIFA World Cup provided by EA.