FIFA 10 Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
It's amazing to think that in just a few short years the FIFA series has gone from being the least realistic football game to the one that's pushing the football game genre to new heights. FIFA's developers really deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of the more powerful consoles and continually striving to improve their game rather than simply resting on their laurels and expecting people to purchase the new game just because it contains up to date squads and kits. The difference between the first FIFA game on the Xbox 360, FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup, and FIFA 09 is staggering and shows how far the series has come in such a short space of time on the current generation of console. FIFA 10 has a lot to live up to then and the expectation for it has certainly been high.
The modes on offer in FIFA 10 include the usual suspects of Exhibition Match, Be A Pro Match, Manager Mode, Be A Pro: Seasons, Tournament Mode, Lounge Mode, Live Season 2.0 and a range of Xbox Live modes including the ability to play in 10 v. 10 matches and play in your own leagues. There are some new additions however. In the arena (where you are dropped when the game first loads and you get to control a player of your choice to take shots at the keeper) you can now press the Back button to switch to a practice match, work on your set pieces or create your own set pieces and this is a welcome, if minor addition.
One of the bullet point features on the back of the box for FIFA 10 was "Manager Mode Authenticity" with the claim being that the mode had received a lot of attention in regards to making the seasons play out more realistically than ever before. More realistic transfers and player development are claimed. Whilst some aspects do seem more realistic, transfer activity doesn't seem quite so unbelievable as in previous FIFA games but some things still seem silly. It's still possible to make unrealistic transfers and see certain teams struggling when it almost certainly would never happen to the same extent in real life. Still, some progress has been made and in a few years time we'll all be complaining about how the game is too realistic in this respect.
Another big new feature this time around is the 360 degree dribbling which gives you the ability to move your player in any direction. It effects virtually every aspect of the game such as passing and shooting as well as player movement. The basic idea is that this does away with the on-rails feeling that you will have experienced in previous football titles. Whilst there's no doubt that this does enhance the feeling of control that you have over your players, I have to say that it's not as noticeable or as big an improvement over FIFA 09 as you might expect. The reason for this is that FIFA 09 already seemed to allow you more degrees of movement than you'd find in the Pro Evolution Soccer series until that point. I daresay however that it's a feature that will become more pronounced over future editions in the FIFA series.
The Live Season feature that debuted in FIFA 09 has returned in FIFA 10 and has aptly been called Live Season 2.0. The basic idea is the same as last year. Choosing from any one of the six supported leagues (incidentally there are around thirty leagues included in FIFA 10 which is very impressive) which include: the Barclays Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Primera División Mex, Serie A and Liga BBVA, you pick a club of your choice and play through their real life fixture list for matches that have already been played. The basic idea is to see how your efforts match up when compared to the club's real life results. It's an intriguing mode but it's one you'll have to pay extra for. Last year you could choose one league for free and but this year you'll either have to pay 400 Microsoft points per league or 800 points for all of the leagues. You do have access to a free trial, which lasts for five matches, but I much preferred the way it was done last year with access to at least one league without having to pay.
As a minor enhancement to the Be A Pro mode that was found in FIFA 09, FIFA 10 allows you to create a Virtual Pro in your own image and use him across a variety of game modes, playing for the team you've placed him in, ranging from the arena to the Be A Pro mode and he's also available to use in online games. If you want to, you can import an image of yourself using the technology you'll find in other EA Sports titles such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 and Fight Night Round 4. The virtual pro will have his performance tracked across all of the modes you use him in and these are used to develop the player. It's far from being a game selling feature but it's certainly a worthwhile one and one that manages to enhance the Be A Pro mode as well as providing a common thread for all of the game's various modes. Whether it's a good thing or not, you can purchase temporary upgrades using Microsoft points which allows your player to benefit from artificial stat boosts for a certain number of games.
In regards to the game's presentation, FIFA 10 doesn't represent much of an improvement on FIFA 09. The menu system looks the same as it has for the last few versions and it's looking rather tired in all honesty. The match graphics don't look noticeably better but in some respects that's not surprising as FIFA 09 did look rather good and it's debateable whether the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 can produce much more in terms of visual quality. Player animations have improved however and you can see the player animations getting closer to the real life movements of footballers. The player likenesses for the star players mostly look OK although there are a few odd ones. At least the frame rate during a match remains smooth throughout. That said, during replays and the cutscenes you'll see prior to the beginning of a match, the frame rate is noticeably lower than it should be but this isn't really much of a problem. FIFA 10, like previous FIFA games has the annoying habit of panning the camera around the stadia when a substitution is being made and after all these years it's getting rather irritating, especially when several substitutions are made during the game as it really breaks up the flow of the action.
FIFA 10 doesn't represent an improvement when it comes to being deaf gamer friendly although that's not to say the game isn't accessible for deaf gamers. Match commentary isn't subtitled which is hardly a problem given how repetitive it is and at times how inappropriate it is to the match action. Slightly more disappointing are the new tutorial videos. These aren't subtitled and this is unfortunate because they are useful introductions to various aspects of the game. These disappointments don't really prevent the game from being accessible however. All of the important information you need in the various game modes is shown visually through the use of text, numbers or icons. The Be A Pro matches uses a variety of icons to show whether your player is offside or out of position, etc.
The long and short of it is that FIFA 10 is a better game than FIFA 09. In some areas there's no improvement and in others there's a slight one but the end result is that it plays a better and slightly more realistic game of football, offers a greater range of movement, and therefore a greater degree of control, and polishes some aspects of the game that were in need of some improvement. It's not perfect though. The Manager Mode could be much more realistic and the menus could do with some redesigning to help them feel less cluttered. The frame rate during replays needs sorting out and it's a shame, if not an indication of the way gaming is going these days, that you'll have to spend even more money, in times of a global recession, to make the most of the Live Season 2.0 mode. The bottom line however, is that FIFA 10 is currently the best football game you can purchase for the Xbox 360.