- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
very four years, soccer fans around the world come together to experience the magic of the World Cup. There’s no better feeling than seeing your team pull off the win of a lifetime as they fight their way through 31 other nations in the hope of walking away with the top prize. In anticipation of this year’s competition in South Africa, Electronic Arts has once again decided to capitalize on soccer fever by releasing a World Cup-specific title in addition to its annual installment. For the most part, the game looks and feels like “FIFA Soccer 10,” but despite a robust qualifying campaign, “2010 FIFA World Cup: South Africa” fails to replicate the passion and excitement of the real thing.
Just like the 2006 edition, “FIFA World Cup” lets you take control of your favorite national team as you guide them through the tournament – from the early stages of regional qualification and into the Finals where you'll face off against some of the best teams in the world. There’s not a whole lot to it, but EA has made things a little more interesting this year with how the CPU plays. Weaker sides will bunker down defensively when traveling on the road, and when at home, they'll raise their level of play significantly. It’s a cool feature in theory, but it's not going to affect the outcome of very many matches. You should be more worried about the officiating, because that’s where you’re most likely to get screwed. Referees continue to exhibit erratic behavior, and more often than not, it’s directed at the human-controlled players.
The only thing more rewarding than making a run for the cup with your team is doing so while playing as yourself. In Captain Your Country, you can create a brand new player or export one from “FIFA 10” as you travel up the ranks of your national team, starting out as a member of the “B” squad and eventually earning the captaincy of the First XI. You’ll probably notice some nice improvements to the Be a Pro system, as well, including real-time updates to your rating and a more realistic assessment of your performance.
Of course, the last thing you’re going to want to do is play through the exact same qualifying campaign again, so to help break up the monotony, EA has included the Story of Qualifying, a scenario-based challenge mode where you relive certain moments from the 2010 campaign in different regions around the world. It’s definitely the most challenging mode on the disc, and the one where you'll likely spend a majority of your time. The fact that EA has promised new, downloadable scenarios straight from the Finals as the competition progresses should definitely help to extend the game's life.
Even with everything that “FIFA World Cup” does right, it still feels like a shadow of the far superior “FIFA 10.” The small changes to the gameplay don’t help its case, either – particularly the new penalty system. While the ability to perform a stutter step is something that the series has been lacking for years, the “Madden”-like power bar used to shoot the ball is far too complicated. There has to have been a better way to emulate the pressure a player is under when taking a penalty kick, because although it’s easy to get a hang of after spending some time in the practice arena, it’s just as easy to forget by the time you actually need to utilize it in a game. And don’t even get me started on the shunning of my players when the time came to hand out end-of-tournament awards. Despite crushing the competition in every round, my leading scorers failed to take home the Golden Boot, the Golden Ball, or even make the Best XI team. “2010 FIFA World Cup” might be a nice distraction until the tournament begins, but it’s blunders like these that guarantees it won’t be replacing your go-to soccer title any time soon.