One of the biggest titles in the world, Fifa 10 builds upon the excellent Fifa 09 which caused a paradigm shift in football games and actually ended up being the superior product when compared to the usual front runner Pro Evolution Soccer.
Fifa 10 brings with it a number of new buzz words including "Manager Mode" and 360-degree ball control.
The biggest buzz word to come out of the Fifa 10 marketing train and, honestly, the most important one. It's hard to emphasise the impact of 360-degree control. In fact, it's not something you'll notice until you play an hour of Fifa 10 and then try to go back to last year's game or Pro Evolution Soccer. It fundamentally changes football games for good because it no longer means you're restricted to running in 8 directions. You can bend runs, skip past defenders and generally cover every inch of the pitch. Honestly, it makes the world of difference, and turns Fifa 10 into more of a simulation than an arcade representation of the sport.
It would be cynical to think that Fifa 10 is little more than Fifa 09 with Ronaldo in Real Madrid shirt and 360-degree dribbling. But that's how it appears. At least for the first few hours. Then you realise the tweaks that EA Canada have done under the hood. Sure it's not a sexy graphical overhaul of the engine, or the cleaner menus that Fifa requires — but it's just as important. Simply put Fifa 10 plays a better game of football than the competition and previous iterations. Ball physics have been improved when crossing and shooting, goalkeepers react better, gameplay is better balanced ensuring speedy players aren't overbearing. It's polished to the nth degree. The game also feels much more physical, with players really tussling for the ball, a trait yet to really be demonstrated in video games.
Graphically Fifa 10 has not exactly come on leaps and bounds, but looks extremely competent, with players from the top level leagues sharing appearances you'd recognise and stadiums looked perfectly well rendered. The audio commentary from Martin Tyler and Andy Gray is still a little cumbersome, with phrases not feeling particularly natural, but it's certainly competent. The weakest thing about the game this year however is its particularly poor soundtrack. EA usually do a great job with the music in their games so it was surprising to hear the low standard of tracks selected for this year's game. Of course the music is totally subjective so, we suppose our point is moot.
Being able to take your Virtual Pro (who can be styled with your EA Game Face for frighteningly wonky real-life likeness) into any mode of play to earn stats and awards is a particularly neat addition to Fifa 10. Your Virtual Pro is an in-game representation of yourself, who you'll train and build through the ranks just like a real footballer. In-game achievements can be earned by achieving certain feats with your character, all the time raising your dude's strengths and pushing him up through the ranks. It becomes super addictive trying to get your player up to scratch in single player before debuting him online.
Despite cries to sharpen up Fifa 10's menu structure, EA Canada have opted for the exact same tiered system in Fifa 09. Which is a nightmare. Even after spending hours with the game and its prequel, we still find ourselves bemused by all the options and buttons to press. Surely it can be tided up? At times it's frighteningly overwhelming, and you just find yourself sticking to the options you understand, rather than being encouraged to experience new things.
Martin Tyler talking to you about Fifa 10's gameplay is all well and good, but why not jump into the 21st century and actually give a hands-on tutorial? Video games have been teaching players while they play for years now, it seems so archaic for Fifa 10 to avoid all that. Even though we're not series newcomers, we'd love to have a hands-on experience with all that is in the game, a real full, playable tutorial. After all, those seasoned football game professionals needn't ever touch the option should they wish not to; but we wouldn't mind it.
Fifa 10 doesn't seem all that different from Fifa 09 on the surface. In fact, you could spend hours with the game and not be able to pin-point any precise things that are better in Fifa 10. But, let this be known, subconsciously you'll be enjoying it more. And that's because despite familiarity, this is Fifa 09 polished to infinity.