2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa – The PS3 Attitude Review
Over the years there have been a fair share of top-corner beauties, and some that have fallen flat on their face faster than Didier Drogba being clipped by a light breeze.
The big question therefore is this; have EA scored with FIFA World Cup? Or has the turf by the penalty spot come loose?
The World Cup is an amazing sporting competition that has caused some of the most talked about moments in popular culture. Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, Gazza’s tears, Beckham’s red card and Pele’s TV adverts for impotence have all captured the imagination and caused a ripple in the social conscience.
So a game based on the World Cup has to be suitably epic, surely? A representation of the sport that will show off its best points and celebrate the game in the same spirit as the actual tournament itself, yes?
Before we get to the gameplay, let’s take a look at the stats. People who like football love stats.
The game contains 199 of the 204 national teams that took part in the 2010 World Cup qualification process. The five missing teams are Central African Republic, Eritrea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Bhutan and Guam who all withdrew from the qualifying stages.
The game includes all 10 venues that are to be used at the World Cup in South Africa as well as stadiums from each qualifying region and a range of ‘generic’ stadiums.
Even the soundtrack doesn’t escape the statfest. Featuring 28 tracks by artists from 21 countries, it is probably the most diverse that EA has ever released in any of their games. Of course, the World Cup is perfect for this level of diversity. The only way they’d manage to make a more expansive track listing is if they decided to bring out ‘Eurovision – The Videogame’.
These stats all lead to one simple conclusion. EA has poured more time and effort into this than just bringing out a ‘bridging version’, as they had previously done when launching other World Cup or European Championship editions.
In fact, the attention to detail is quite staggering.
EA have factored in a higher rate of fatigue for matches at higher altitudes. That’s impressive, but then they have also provided an advantage for home teams who are used to playing at altitude. Also, just as in real life, players can gain injuries outside of the matches and become unavailable.
You won’t be disappointed by the number of game modes either.
You can, of course, just jump into an exhibition match. The real fun comes when you start a World Cup Finals campaign, working through the qualifying stages to get to the knockout rounds, and trying desperately not to succumb to a lucky bounce of your defensive wall or a dodgy penalty shootout in the quarter or semi-finals.
The ‘Be a Pro’ option that has become popular in recent FIFA titles returns as the Captain Your Country mode. Whilst you could always change your camera view in any case, it is a welcome sign that the CYC mode uses a more standard view of the pitch rather than the ‘over the shoulder’ perspective. It is much easier to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time using this mode.
Penalty kicks have been overhauled too to provide a system that determines whether you can stay cool under pressure, just like you’d have to if you were under the spotlight of 2 billion worldwide viewers.
In CYC, you gain headlines and feedback from the manager/coach after each match. Whilst the progression through to being captain of your chosen country offers a great experience and a lot of fun, the feedback you receive can be a little inconsistent with the game you played, and often the decision on whether you make it into the team, or even gain the captain’s armband, seems to be based more on luck than skill.
In addition to the various offline modes, FIFA World Cup has a strong online presence. The most fun of these is the Online World Cup, which echoes the fight to get through to the knockout stages by pairing you and your chosen team up with three others in a group phase. The only downside of this is that, quite often, the game will pair you up with someone else who has chosen the same team as you. The only option you have at this point is to cancel that match-up and start again. It isn’t a game killer, but it can be annoying.
There is also an online ‘ranked play’ mode that takes you forward to a special competition if you score enough points across 10 games. Ranked play is a nice addition, and makes the online experience in FIFA World Cup better than it has been in years. However, even the smallest amount of lag in these online games causes major issues, so we’re hoping EA can tweak servers and the game itself to be a little more forgiving.
You’ll also find a ‘Story of Qualifying’ mode that offers real-life scenarios for you to take control of. An online store is also available, currently empty, that we hear will be filled with extra DLC such as the ‘Story of the Finals’ scenario add-on.
The graphics in this edition of the FIFA franchise are easily the best ever. The presentation is, as usual with EA, spot on. You even get to see fans – with face paint – enjoying the atmosphere or showing their displeasure at your team’s performance if you get a bit of a pounding.
Another much-improved element in FIFA World Cup is the commentary, which is much more relevant than ever to the on-pitch action, and the interaction between Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend is superb. They are definitely a step up from other FIFA games, including FIFA 10. Their commentary in the ‘Story of Qualifying’ mode by itself is worth the asking price.
Whilst the gameplay in FIFA 10 was excellent, FIFA World Cup takes it a stage further and tightens up a lot of the elements that make this the best football game we’ve ever played. Heck, we even have our own PS3 Attitude Football Game World Cup diagram below to prove it!
The game isn’t without negative points. There can be some lengthy load times, and during the course of playing the game for this review (several hours a day across a week) it froze the PS3 twice. You also have to contend with the usual array of EA ‘Terms and Conditions’ dialogue boxes. We don’t need 200 words on why the game is autosaving and what it means, and we don’t need another button press to make the message go away – just tell us ‘autosaving – do not switch off’ whilst it is doing it and we’re good, thanks.
But the fact is this. 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is, right now, the best football game you can buy for the PS3. With both PES 2011 and FIFA 2011 coming down the line, they’re both going to have to work really hard to raise the (cross)bar any further than this.