In sport there are few tournaments that match the spectacle that is the FIFA World Cup, in fact I'll argue that there are none. The FIFA World Cup is a near 3 year tournament that involves over 200 nations from around the globe. Its popularity, legacy and size are enough to garner its own game in "2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa"; EA Sports newest football; errr... I mean Soccer game. With many different game types and features, from qualifying with your favourite country, full online tournaments, to specific scenarios you can try to overcome, the real question many Soccer fans have is if the release of a World Cup specific game is needed in addition to the yearly FIFA game already released by EA Sports. This gamer is skeptical.
As I mentioned, this version of EA's soccer game provides players with one distinguishable difference from FIFA 10, and that's the World Cup Tournament. There's no leagues, no region cups, no championship tournaments; just one major run at soccer, and arguably, sports greatest trophy. You choose your country of choice and starting from either the qualification round or the group stage of the World Cup Finals, you make your way towards the ultimate goal. It's important to note that if you start from the finals, you can only use one of the 32 qualifying teams. If your goal is to lead Turkestan to glory, you'll have to start from their regional qualifications and move your way through. You can play friendlies on your way if you're so inclined in order to mess with formations and lineups. Once you've proceeded past the group stage in either scenario, you're able to kick off individual matches from that stage of the tournament.
The now standard "be a pro" feature finds it's way into this game as well, only it's called Captain Your Team. Just like Be a Pro, you can control one of the thousand Internationals already in the game, or you can create your own from scratch and have at it. I didn't enjoy this too much as there's a lot going on on the pitch, and controlling just one player put me a little too out of touch. It wasn't horrible, just sometimes a little lonely out there. I found the game much more enjoyable when controlling complete aspects of the game.
A new and interesting game type is the promise of scenario type games called "Story of the Finals" in which actual game situations from this years World Cup will be uploaded as DLC and you'll be able to take control of the action and try to reverse the real-life fortunes, or misfortunes, of this years tournament. I'm interested to see where this leads and what type of situations present themselves. I've never been a big fan of scenarios in sports games as I prefer to create my own great games, though I can see how fans of that game type will enjoy taking a crack at accomplishing what reality couldn't.
This game is beautiful! Once again EA has made improvements to the graphics and overall animation of the players, the crowd the field and so on. After spending an entire weekend playing match after match with a group of friends I still found myself stepping back and admiring just how awesome it looks. The players themselves also look great and they're looking more and more like their real life counterparts with each iteration. Of course if you have FIFA 10, you know this already. One aspect that has been changed is the players physics. Gone are the days of running through a downed player, or passing the ball through the referee. Player momentum affects the way the ball plays off them, as well as the way other players play off them. It's a welcome dose of reality as far as I'm concerned.
The penalty shot mechanics have been overhauled for this iteration of the game, and I found this to be one of the more frustrating parts of the game. In reality, a penalty shot in soccer is as close to a sure thing as you're going to get in any sport. You have a massive net and you're 12 yards away. The keeper is at a large disadvantage and usually, they're guessing. The mechanics of taking the shot in FIFA World Cup are such that it's very difficult just to get the shot on target. After an entire weekend of playing, none of us were hitting the net with consistency. The tutorial available does a decent job of helping you along the way, but it's still a rather difficult skill to master, which for a penalty kick just didn't feel right. The same is true for free kicks. Getting a set play to go the way you want it to take a lot more effort and practice than I would like. I'm not looking to score on free kicks, but at least getting them near the mark now and then would be nice. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but it adds some frustrations.
The big question to me with this game was, as someone who has FIFA 10 already, what is the major benefit to getting this version? The answer to me was there is none. There is a fantastic, polished, beautiful game here and for people excited about the World Cup or those who passed on FIFA 10, you're going to be very happy with the game, but owners of FIFA 10 can definitely let this one slide by, you really don't need both. Most of the gameplay is the same, and if you really want to, you can update the rosters and run through a World Cup tournament on your own with FIFA 10 and you're not going to be missing much. Playing with your friends is the same thing, while we had a complete blast playing this game in a group of soccer fans, we had just as much fun playing FIFA 10... and we scored more penalty shots.
The Way I See It: A solid and beautiful game trying to take advantage of soccer mania that's about to hit the world. If you don't have FIFA 10, this is a great buy! That's a big IF though.