When you’re on a winner, there’s little point rocking the boat. That’s the mantra that seems to have underpinned EA’s FIFA 10, as safe an update to a football game as we can remember playing. Given that FIFA 09 saw the series jump forward and firmly seize first place from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, there’s an understandable reluctance to damage the game’s foundations, and thus this particular release feels more as though some icing has been put on the cake, rather than anything groundbreaking or new.
There have, of course, been changes. FIFA 10 finds goalkeepers that little bit more aggressive. They’re far more willing to run for a ball outside their area and boot it clear. They’ll come up for corners. They’ll rush out to greet strikers in a one-on-one situation. And, as a consequence, they’ll routinely find the ball lobbed over their heads. You win more than you lose here, and although FIFA 10 has closed down one or two of the scoring sweet spots from last year’s game, here it feels as though EA has opened up another.
Most of the other on-pitch changes are very subtle. You get defenders who seem a bit more spacially aware, and foot-in tackles that actually work quite well. Longer passes and through balls seem a lot less hit-and-miss and afford you greater control, and there’s a little more of a flow to a game that was already quite fluid to start with.
The criticism, though, is obvious: there’s blatantly not a £40 improvement here, and given that FIFA 09 is now being discounted below the £10 mark as stores clear their stocks in favour of the new version, it’s last year’s edition that’s looking like the real bargain.
Still, if you don’t have last year’s version and you plump for FIFA 10, you’ll still get your money’s worth. EA has crammed the thing full of tournaments and game modes – including the enduring management mode and the improving virtual pro – and any one of these can easily eat up several evenings of your life. The management mode is the real time-eater, and if you can overcome the slightly unrealistic results and placings that the game’s computations throw up, it’s where the best and longest challenge is to be found.
Finally, you can’t talk about a FIFA game without acknowledging the sheer spectacle of it. Graphically, EA has managed to squeeze even better visuals out of the game, and there’s simply no better looking football game on the planet right now.
Crucially – and we write this in advance of seeing what Konami has come up with in the shape of PES 2010 – it’s also the best-playing game of its ilk, too. And while this is no update of note, FIFA 10 is still a particularly good football game that’s likely to be played for many months after purchase.
Company: EA Sports