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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


FIFA World Cup 2010 (Playstation 3)

EA gives players a chance to experience the quadrennial international soccer tournament in FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa, superb recreation of the excitement surrounding the sporting event. The game features numerous modes of play that allow you to go from the qualifying rounds to the finals using your favorite national teams, which adds to the excitement. On the field, the gameplay is intuitive and precise, allowing you to maneuver your players, change tactics on the fly and score some incredible goals. The controls are intuitive and effective, making for an exciting and challenging title. It performs very much as expected but, EA's latest soccer title is a solid performer that delivers a great simulation of the sporting spectacle.

Players looking for a good simulation of the upcoming World Cup 2010 soccer tournament to be held this summer in South Africa will probably find a lot to like about this edition of the game. It uses basically the same engine and approach as the standard EA FIFA games, which were already excellent and adds a few twists and challenges of its own to create an excellent sports title. The biggest change from standard FIFA titles is the atmosphere surrounding each match. Instead of the usual introductions, there are huge fireworks and crowds going crazy before the game, which adds to the excitement and drama of the games. You definitely feel there is something big and important going on here. Instead of constricting players to the final 32 teams that reached the tournament, the game allows you to pick from any of the 199 teams that participated in the FIFA qualifying rounds. You can then play with them through the tournament in a variety of modes. Adding to the game's authenticity, each of the ten South African stadiums hosting the event have also been recreated. Players who are new to the pitch might want to use the extensive training mode to get the basics down and practice their moves and control schemes. Once you've got that under your belt, you can move on and play through the qualifying rounds, unlocking additional stages in the tournament as you play through and win your groups in the first round. Then you can use your teams in the subsequent rounds and make your way to the finals if you've got enough skills. The game also features extensive online modes where you can compete with other players online and see who is the best head to head. FIFA World Cup 2010's online mode is robust and features extensive ranking and player matching features. EA is also promising downloadable updates during the tournaments that should reflect updated rosters and results. All told, these modes should give soccer fans plenty of content to absorb in the months ahead.

The game single-player modes allow you to play through a standard soccer match for the full time, though how long each half lasts in real time depends on which options you select. One of the more interesting aspects of the game is called the Captain Your Country mode where you can take a single player through the tournament from training to the early rounds. In this mode, you can choose to play as an existing real-life player or create your own customized one. This mode is similar to the "Be a Pro" mode in FIFA where you control a single player's actions during a match. Your ranking depends on your actions, and you're overall performance after each match depends on how well you play. Missing passes, failing to stay in position or getting fouls reduces your rank while scoring goals, passing successfully and running increases your stature. There are other players on the field competing for this prestigious position as well, so your performance needs to be excellent throughout each match. It's a little bit different than most standard soccer modes and its more challenging in some ways. This is definitely one of the more interesting parts of the game and gives players the chance to see a little of what its like to be on the field, which remains an effective mode of play.

One of the more impressive aspects of the resurgence of EA's FIFA franchise over the past few years is how finely-tuned and intuitive the gameplay has become. Since World Cup titles usually attract a more causal crowd, this edition includes a simplified two-button control scheme that allows novice players to play. This allows you to control only passing and shooting while controlling the players. Instead of focusing on the advanced mechanics, casual players can now focus on the basic moves so they can play. It's probably a little too simple for most gamers, but those new to the sport should have fun. Regular FIFA players shouldn't worry that this World Cup edition has been watered down to create another casual focused title with no challenge. The advanced control scheme is very much in the traditional FIFA mold, and most players familiar with the series should have little trouble getting up to speed. Running, tackling, passing and shooting are controlled with the face buttons with movement assigned to the analog pads. Players can use the d-pad to change tactics. The game's running and passing system is intuitive and you should have little trouble making set pieces and performing special moves to keep opponents off-guard. Most players will find the game easy to play and use. This is due in large part to the excellent control interface. FIFA World Cup 2010 builds on the formula seen in last year's game and while it plays quite similarly, there have been a few tweaks made that significantly improve the feel on the pitch and the flow of each match. Your players seem a little bit more responsive and unpredictable, making their movements feel more fluid, which you can use to your advantage. World Cup 2010 also benefits from improved AI, with the defenses opposing squads create much harder to defeat. They put up quite a defense and combined with the harder, less predictable shooting system makes goals much harder to achieve than in the past. Even stronger teams can be beaten if you fall into the trap of complacency, and you can't take anything from granted here. This added realism makes matches more exciting because they're less predictable; giving World Cup 2010's gameplay a more realistic and authentic feel that reflects the intensity and randomness of international play.

This is probably the most important aspect of the game, and it's here that World Cup 2010 delivers on its promise. It's silky smooth gameplay and intuitive controls make for an excellent soccer title. As in previous FIFA titles, the presentation is excellent with smooth character animations, extensive in-game commentary and elaborate replay modes that allow to relive your greatest moments. The options menu also allows you to make adjustments such as match length, difficulty, and other selections. It's a solidly constructed game as far as this goes, but there are a few niggling problems that might bother some players. You can make the argument that the World Cup modes could have been included in the standard FIFA as DLC, and this is probably technically possible. Another problem is that the 199 teams included represent a fraction of the clubs you'd get in a full-fledged FIFA title which is annoying. However, a realistic gamer probably realizes that this probably won't happen in the real world. Taking what the game offers for what it can, FIFA World Cup 2010 is a fairly good title in its own right. The game's controls and play mechanics are very much in the mold of earlier FIFA games, but there are a few concessions to casual players that should expand its appeal to novice gamers. The presentation takes on added drama with elaborate cut-scenes, but the basic gameplay remains solid and engaging. It's added modes, such as Captain your Country and its extensive online modes means players will have plenty of extra content to delve into, which should prolong its lifespan. FIFA World Cup 2010 isn't flawless, but its definitely an excellent soccer title that effectively captures the excitement and drama of the tournament.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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