FIFA Soccer 10 review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii
Publisher
Electronic Arts
FIFA Soccer 10

Reviewed by Jason Zingale

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T

he Major League Soccer season may be coming to a close, but for all the other leagues around the world, it’s just getting started, which means it’s time once again for another installment of “FIFA Soccer.” The series has gone through a number of changes over the years, but this time around, it seems like they’ve finally perfected the formula. Though I was admittedly a little harsh on last year’s edition at first, it’s definitely grown on me since then, which is a good thing considering Electronic Arts is using “FIFA 09” as the blueprint for this year’s installment. In fact, some might argue that you can’t even tell them apart, but although “FIFA 10” may not have a lot of new features, the small details that have been implemented into the on-the-field action make a world of difference.

One of the few new features in “FIFA 10” is Virtual Pro, a natural evolution of Be a Pro Mode that allows you to improve your player in everywhere from the Practice Arena to any of the offline game modes. In order to make your player better, however, you won’t be buying upgrades, but rather earning them by completing certain accomplishments on the field. Along with new attributes, you’ll also unlock skill moves, celebrations and extra kits. Additionally, you can now take your created player online to compete in the Pro Club Championship, a 10-on-10 team competition using only Virtual Pros, as well as upload a photo of yourself using EA’s Game Face software. The technology still isn’t good enough to guarantee that every player will come out looking perfect, but with the right lighting and some smart camera work, you can literally put yourself in the game.

Also new this year is a deeper practice mode. While the Arena has typically been a place to kick around the ball while waiting for a match to load, now you can perfect every part of your game before even stepping on the field. Take shots at the goalie, brush up on skill moves, practice fast breaks and defensive situations, or perfect set pieces. Better yet, you can design your own customizable set pieces, controlling every element from a player's starting position, to the routes that they run, and then save them for use in future games. There’s no tutorial that actually teaches you how to begin creating set pieces, but after playing around with it for a few minutes, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine even the most inept soccer strategist creating plays that work when it really counts.

Much like this year’s installment of “Madden NFL,” however, “FIFA 10” is all about the details. The player animations run smoother than ever, referee bookings have been toned down considerably, and the gameplay has been improved to reflect a more realistic experience. The addition of 360˚ dribbling isn’t quite as innovative as EA is making it out to be, but it does offer much better control than the previous eight-point system. Other noteworthy additions include the ability to jostle for position of the ball (shoulder bumps are a staple of the game), as well as major improvements to the AI. Teammates dummy passes, defenders react to fast breaks more intelligently, and attackers make the kind of runs that just beg you to pass to them. Even the goalkeepers seem to be playing better, so it’s no surprise why everyone is calling “FIFA 10” the best soccer sim on the market. It’s still not perfect, but there’s little more that they can do.

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