Soccer fans come in many types. Some just know about the major international teams, others know about their own local teams, and still others have knowledge of all the leagues and teams, even down to specific players. FIFA 10 is a game that caters to that last type of fan, as it offers over 570 teams. Luckily, it still appeals to those who don’t know much about the teams but do love the game. Those people just have to use some guesswork when it comes to team choices (favorite logo anyone?).
The first thing we noticed about FIFA 10 was how fully-featured it is. It comes complete with three primary modes, each of which offers a lengthy amount of gameplay. These include Manager, Tournament, Be a Pro, and the slightly less-featured Training and Penalty Shootout modes.
Manager mode puts you in the role of the manager, but it’s the type of manager who goes so far as controlling his players’ movements on the field, so he only has himself to blame for meeting or missing the season requirements given to him. Tournament mode is straightforward: pick a cup, pick a team eligible for that cup, and win that cup. Lastly, Be a Pro mode is a fascinating new take on the game, putting you in charge of only one character (either an existing pro or one you create) through a multiple-season career.
Is it football or soccer?
Be a Pro mode is a great idea, but has a somewhat flawed implementation. During the match, you only control yourself, which means that you have to learn quickly where your place on the pitch is, and how to work that area instead of trying to be a one-man show. This is a great perspective on the game, and it teaches you to rely on your computerized teammates as sports videogames rarely do. You can call for passes, tell teammates to shoot, and play as you do in the other modes, but sometimes you just have to sit tight and leave it to your team.
This can be frustrating at first, especially with the Be a Pro camera angle, which only indulges your narcissism and stays focused on you. Luckily, there are a plethora of camera options, most of which allow you to follow the rest of the action and then jump in when it gets to your part of the pitch.
FIFA 10 offers two types of controls: virtual d-pad or accelerometer, both complete with buttons. However, that’s really just to say that it has one type of control, the virtual d-pad, because the accelerometer’s sensitivity is shoddy and any calibration is entirely lacking. There are two buttons onscreen (A & B) which control passing, shooting, and all manner of actions in-between.
Some of the less straightforward actions, like one-two passes and slide tackles, require button sequences that are difficult to remember and even more difficult to master. Despite this, the players are responsive and easy to switch between, which makes gameplay feel streamlined.
The interface of FIFA 10 could use some streamlining itself, because it assumes quite a bit of knowledge of the sport. There is no comprehensive tutorial for many aspects of the interface and modes, leaving you with a learning curve that you don’t necessarily want on a portable device. Furthermore, when choosing from the hundreds of teams, FIFA doesn’t give you any information about each, apart from their name and league, leaving you to shoot in the dark for a team to bring to the top.
While intimidating, FIFA’s extensive gameplay choices and realistic style impressed us the most. Besides a thorough treatment of the sport and more leagues than you could hope for, the game also functions as a cinematic experience. This is especially evident in the lengthy and multifaceted replays after every goal or attempt on a goal. Impatient players can just play the basic parts of the game, but soccer fanatics can also immerse themselves in the nearly limitless customizations and modes.
Despite a few minor complaints, FIFA 10 is an impressive game, and it is more than welcome on the iDevice. EA Sports has not delivered a flawless title, but it is fully-featured and masterfully done. It is well worth the price, premium though it may be for the App Store.