Reviewed: May 8, 2010
Released: April 27, 2010
How do I review a game that's based on a current title, yet technically is only released every 4 years? This is the dilemma I face with EA's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The game uses the same engine as FIFA 10, but only has national teams (no club teams). Given that EA's FIFA World Cup 06 game was a nightmare, I guess I'll have to treat it as the next progression of FIFA 10.|
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is essentially an update to FIFA 10. It must be nice working in EA Sports Canada's offices this time of year. The production team likely doesn't get moved on to other projects since they bring out a new soccer game every 6 months. Let's hope they all like soccer.
In many ways, this is FIFA 10 with updated menus that reflect the spectacle that is the World Cup. But if you play it a few minutes you will quickly see that the game engine has been improved. Players act more like real players – they move more fluidly and react the way they should when you change the direction on your controller. I thought FIFA 10 was pretty amazing, but 2010 FIFA World Cup is even better.
When you start the game you are taken to some new orange desert color menus which reflect the venue for the World Cup. From the main menu you are given a simple list of choices: Kick-Off, 2010 FIFA World Cup, Captain Your Country, Story of Qualifying, Online FIFA World Cup, Xbox Live, Penalty Shootout, Training Ground, and the store. So they are plenty of areas to explore.
Kick-Off takes you straight into a game. Pick your teams and move on. FIFA World Cup mode lets you take part in the tournament with all the teams heading to Africa next month. The real fun comes in the “Captain Your Country”. It's essentially the “be a pro” mode from FIFA 10. You have the options to create a new player, pick a real player, or import your virtual pro from FIFA 10. It even imports your Game Face from EA Sports website. Once you start the Captain Your Country mode you go into qualifying rounds for the World Cup. Unfortunately your imported player only brings along his looks and not his stats. The stats are set to the default and it's up to you to build up your player.
Probably the biggest change I noticed in the gameplay is the A.I.of the computer controlled players has improved a lot. Breakaways are not so easy – you can still get them, but I often found the opponent A.I. Was intelligent enough to cut off through passes and often would shoulder me off the ball if I was threatening to go in for a shot on goal.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa includes over 100 international teams. That's great, but these should have been included in FIFA 10. It's very annoying to have to get up and switch discs just to play an authentic World Cup game. I couldn't help but feel like this really needed to be a DLC for FIFA 10.
“Story of Qualifying” is a sort of “classic games” mode. But the games are various scenarios broken down into regions for qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. There are other scenarios you must unlock which take you back to 2006 Germany. Plus there will be an update during the actual World Cup that will include “story of the finals”. But until that comes, the shipping game has 17 scenarios for Europe, 6 scenarios for Africa, 5 for Asia, 4 for Oceania, 6 for CONCACAF, and 7 for South America.
The online FIFA World Cup lets you pick the squad for your team and then go online to play against others around the world. The difference between this mode and the normal Xbox Live mode is the nation ratings are kept on the EA server. So you really are competing for your country. Both modes are fun to play but for some reason FIFA World Cup seems to have a lot more connection problems than FIFA 10. I had many problems with my opponents having a poor connection which instead of just dropping off and playing with an AI, would bog down and the game would start jumping around like what you might see in Modern Warfare 2 with a lagging player.
EA apparently chose to drop the popular 20-player online play from FIFA 10 in favor of the World Cup mode, which is a horrendous decision. The only explanation I can fathom is they didn't think they would have that many people playing online or had some development issues that were not resolved. Regardless, playing online as a team is great fun, and it would have been even more fun to have teams of players from USA playing against teams of players from England to mimic the upcoming World Cup opener for both teams. But for some reason we have been denied that little bit of happiness. Despite this unforgivable omission the core gameplay is an slight improvement over FIFA 10. The players move even more realistically and even the fouls are more normal looking. The AI has improved too. But this really doesn't feel like that big a leap from FIFA 10.
The graphics are essentially the same as FIFA 10, which is excellent. The good news is many areas have been tweaked to look even better. However I did run across some framerate problems when in the practice pitch while the game loads. Sometimes it is bad enough that I don't even bother practicing in that mode before a game.
We get a slightly different sound in the commentary booth with Martin Tyler and Andy Tounsend. They do their usual job providing informative and sometimes exciting commentary. Stadiums sound authentic in their overall size and fans can be heard chanting and singing songs. There are 28 EA SporTrax included in the game. World Cup editions always have a wide variety of music. It's interesting to hear, but it gets annoying very quickly and I turned them all off the first day I had the game.
There are 44 achievements available for 1,000 total points. There are some fairly simple achievements, and some secret ones. Some seem very difficult but mostly just due to the time needed to complete the task – such as beating all 32 teams that have qualified for the World Cup. EA also chose to reward quitters with a 0 achievement for quitting 5 ranked matches while losing. That seems really stupid to me – by offering an achievement for quitting, no matter if the reward is 0, I'm going to go online and people will be quitting out of games simply to get that achievement. That's going to be really annoying for players. EA also has the 2010 FIFA World Cup Store, but as of press time there was nothing available to purchase. I would assume they will have various items for your Avatar and maybe some game unlocks. But we won't know for sure until EA finally releases something.
If EA really expect people to fork over another $60 for essentially less of a game than FIFA 10, but with additional national teams, I think this game is heading for the discount bin very quickly. FIFA World Cup is a good game, but extremely limited. Paying full price for a game that's really only going to be relevant for 2 months is a bit crazy. I'm sure EA is making money on this game so we will likely never see this game combined into the normal yearly FIFA release. It's a shame because that's what should be happening. But instead we get a great looking game with limited use.