The biggest sporting event on the face of this earth deserves to be represented in video game form by nothing but the best. Spin the clock back four years to the last World Cup in Germany and the football genre was ruled by the mighty Pro Evolution Soccer series. Back to today, though, and it’s a very different picture, with EA continuing to invest money and redefine its flagship footy game year on year.
2010 FIFA World Cup – South Africa isn’t just a re-skinned version of FIFA 10. Well, it sort of is, but there’s just as much depth to the World Cup tournament mode as any league mode seen in previous versions. It features every one of the 199 national teams that took part in qualification, as well as all their managers, and even the 10 stadiums where the real competition will be held.
A first for the World Cup games is the ability to play through the World Cup as an online tournament. You pick your colours and compete against global rivals in the group, knockout and finals stages of the competition. When playing online, the game records and rates every performance to give you both individual and team points. These then count towards your overall standings in EA’s leaderboards.
Aside from delivering a solid online mode, the heart of the game – the actual mechanic of kicking, passing and shooting – has never been in better shape. Controlling your 11 men feels more responsive than ever, and it’s impressive how well they twist and turn while using the FIFA dribbling system.
If the depth, detail and intricacies of how the players react to the ball, situation and other players on the pitch sound a little too hardcore for your needs, you’ll be pleased to know that EA has included plenty of options to configure your own control scheme so that even the most casual player such as your mum, dad and/or girlfriend can join in and have some fun too.
A special two-buttoned approach (nicknamed the Dad Pad) has been created that just gives you options to pass and shoot. This scheme removes the responsibility of defending and acts as a great entry-level option for people who aren’t familiar with football games. And let’s face it, with New Zealand finally in the World Cup again, come tournament time there’ll be plenty of outside interest in the sport, if only for the four weeks the competition runs for. Or, at worst, the two weeks before New Zealand gets knocked out of the group stages.
Those looking to sharpen their skills should spend some time in the Practice Arena. This lets you work on all aspects of your game by giving you options to work on a specific set of skills. There are one-on-ones, set pieces, full matches and a mode that allows you to create your own set pieces from scratch.
Penalties have been given a bit of an overhaul and are no longer completely random affairs either. You press and hold the shoot button for power while aiming with the left analogue stick. Hold it too long and you’ll miss completely. Likewise, pressing the shoot button for too long will have you kicking the ball into row 19. Using R1 as you take your kick makes your player use the side of his foot for more accuracy. As well as a power meter, there’s also a composure meter. This is all tied to that player’s previous penalty-taking stats. It’s not as tricky or fiddly as it might sound, but you’ll want to spend some time practising before falling back on them in a real game. Aside from taking New Zealand to the finals, or hammering your gran in two-player games, there’s also a Coke-branded World Cup mode to get stuck into. It’s a bit like a history lesson dressed up with FIFA mini-games. Playing through this mode lets you relive actual moments from previous World Cup qualifying campaigns. There are 55 scenario-based challenges to complete, and EA says it will deliver new ones for free once the game has been released.
For the non-team players among us there’s the Captain Your Country mode, which stands in for the more traditional Be A Pro mode. Here you can create a player from scratch, choose an existing one, or import your own from FIFA 10. You then get to play through the campaign as an individual player rather than controlling the whole team.
To be good at this, though, you’ll need to know your position and the responsibilities that go along with it; being a defender and goal-hanging will get you nowhere.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is the best football tie-in that’s ever been released. But you’ve got to ask yourself a few questions before you jump in and shell out $100 for it. Ask yourself if you plan on buying FIFA 11, which will only be five or six months behind the release of this version. There are still a lot of people playing FIFA 10 online and FIFA 11 is bound to be ever so slightly more advanced than this version. If you’re not a yearly FIFA buyer and just want a football game that captures the whole World Cup spectacle that you can play with family and friends, then 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa won’t let you down. Either way, it’s probably the best video game rendition of football on the market today.