I’ll spare you all with the whole “but futbol is the World’s game” spiel. This is America and we most of us don’t play that crap. But check this out, FIFA 10 is the best sports game I’ve played in a minute. It has more compelling features than Fight Night: Round 4 and Madden 10 , isn’t brought down with bugs like NBA 2K10 and its fun to play even if you don’t follow soccer.
The beauty of this game lies in its learning curve. If you’re new to soccer games all you need to master is basic passing, attacking and defending techniques. The default difficulty is very generous to newcomers as you don’t have to worry about squad options, advanced moves and the like. Then when you come to grips with how it plays you’ll uncover all kinds of sophisticated maneuvers, shots, formations that best suit your squad and more. You can try them out along various set pieces in the practice arena at your leisure as well. Essentially, the game gives you all the tools you need to improve before setting foot on the pitch.
FIFA 10 is better tuned to account for actual player roles than ever before. Previous iterations let users execute picture perfect crosses, through passes and seemingly unstoppable attacks for high scoring games at whim. Now it’s like EA actually paid attention to individual player abilities. For example, a player like Xavi is good at setting up strikers for a goal. Just don’t expect him to put the ball behind the net. Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the world’s best strikers, isn’t as good as Xavi when it comes to squaring up teammates for scoring opportunities. The same can be said for Messi who, despite his spectacular scoring ability, is prone to getting tackled by bigger defenders if he’s careless. These dynamics help emulate actual team play better than any team based sports game I’ve played this year. Take in the fact that the game does a decent job of incorporating randomness such as botched passes, flubbed gimme goals and the occasional screamer (thankfully these are rare) and you have a tight playing game of futbol on your hands.
There are too many modes to list here. Just know that the online play is relatively solid as is traditional local multi-player. FIFA 10 players can put their face in the game à la Fight Night: Round 4 in the virtual pro mode. From there you can choose your team, position and perform various challenges to improve your player. If you ever messed with NBA 2K10’s My Player Mode aka “The Darvin Ham Simulator” you’ll find that they’re pretty similar. The biggest difference here is virtual pro isn’t as frustrating in the early going if you know how to play. What’s more is you can import your pro into a quick match, online match and even use him in an online club with friends. The manager mode (franchise mode) is still here if all that sounds too complicated. You play games, entertain transfer offers and improve your rep as a new manager for whatever club you choose. Expectations change depending on what team you roll with. So if you pick Manchester United you’re expected to dominate Premier League. Meanwhile a team like Liverpool would look to shake things up and make a run for the title.
It may sound like EA cut me a check for this review (I wish.) But in honesty I can’t fault this game for much other than some tired commentary, fastidious game face set up and occasional online connection issues. Plus you have to pay $10 bucks to play the Live Season mode (it lets you follow top European Leagues and play their schedules.) Most everything else about this game and it’s not a hard game to learn. In closing, FIFA 10 is pretty much golden. Give it a shot if you haven’t already. Plus with the World Cup coming, it’s a great way to study up on the world’s greatest players.