By Duncan Voice
[Insert generic opening line about England losing on penalties, a broken metatarsal and the influence of WAGs here].
2010 Fifa World Cup is the latest inevitable cash cow of EA’s now excellent football series. Perhaps slightly unfair to label it a cash cow, it is difficult to recommend nonetheless, despite it being the best incarnation of the beautiful game. And when I say beautiful, that isn’t with Carlos Tevez in mind…
There are a few tweaks here that improve on the formula of Fifa 2010. Crosses no longer curve uncontrollably like a beach ball caught in a cross wind, and goalkeepers are no longer susceptible to scoring sweet spots and display improved reactions. They are however prone to the odd mistake and instance of ball watching, although being an Arsenal fan this season has conditioned me to accept this as normal.
Fifa 2010 had its fair share of bugs, most notably with players randomly transferring between clubs. World Cup doesn’t see the likes of Messi pulling on the three lions (unfortunately) although goals don’t always tally up, which subsequently leads to achievements sometimes not being awarded.
Presentation is typically excellent. Players no longer look like a hidden ‘big head mode’ is turned on and attention to detail is quite terrific, even down to Joleon Lescott’s bizarre receding hairline. All the stadia from the World Cup are present and replicated in fine detail, as well as other major national stadiums. Not all teams are quite as well represented as others though, with lowly nations represented with plain kits and generic looking players.
Fans are slightly more animated, with the odd cutscene of a few supporters dancing around like they are at some sort of Mardi Gras. Managers add to the atmosphere and are a nice touch, although seeing Spain manager Luis Aragones in HD so many times may put you off your dinner.
Commentary is still great, although Andy Townsend does have a tendency to lambaste your over-zealous celebrations regardless of the fact you’ve just completed a hat-trick. As with every football game, the commentators pass comment on a scrappy goal when a thirty yard screamer nearly tore a hole in the net. It’s hard to foresee any football game this generation or any time soon with perfect context sensitive commentary.
An intriguing scenario feature heads up the modes you would expect (World Cup, friendly, penalty shootout, practise et. al). Allowing you to replay key moments from previous tournaments and qualifiers, including trying to avenge Thierry Henry’s infamous hand ball, will keep any gamer busy. Matches during this summer’s World Cup are to be uploaded within 24 hours and available to download for free, an incredibly exciting prospect. The mode is sponsored by Coca Cola Zero. I mention this because the game literally won’t let you forget that. Neither will Clive Tyldesley.
Perhaps trying to muscle in on the family games market, World Cup also introduces a new control scheme, affectionately termed the ‘Dad Pad’. With one button to pass, and one button to shoot it theoretically allows novices to have a competitive match against experienced players. It works well, and injects the control scheme with some accessibility for beginners, although it lacks the finesse of total control, so don’t expect to be pulling off any glorious counter attacks.
A step in the right direction for the series then. EA are fast approaching the formula that will perfect the football game this generation, with World Cup even managing to convince my better half at a glance that I was watching a friendly. Still, when compared next to Fifa 2010 it becomes difficult to recommend. It sorely lacks in features, and early next year Fifa 2011 will be on the shelves. If this was the only game of its type this year, it would score an easy 9 OUT OF 10. If you absolutely must have the latest football game, then World Cup won’t disappoint. If you see FIFA 2010 on the same shelf though, then that should be snapped up like an over-priced Portuguese gentleman by Real Madrid.
7 OUT OF 10