Following our brief hands on with 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa earlier this year, we recently sat down for an extended session with the game in the hope of answering the question on every FIFA fan’s lips: will it be worth the price tag? The announcement of a World Cup game so soon after the release of FIFA 10 has led some to suggest the game will be nothing more than a cosmetically-enhanced money spinner, with nothing to justify a full price release. Well, the naysayers will be pleased (or slightly less displeased) to hear that FIFA World Cup will be worth your hard-earned. Of course, if you’ve played the last major football event title, UEFA Euro 2008, you know this already as EA Sports has form for using these titles as a testing ground for gameplay tweaks and new features, and FIFA World Cup is no exception.

Let’s get the gameplay enhancements out of the way first. The touted 100+ gameplay tweaks may not have a profound effect on the way FIFA World Cup plays but they do combine to create a faster, more responsive game of football. It seems a little bit quicker to trap and release the ball, meaning you’re more likely to craft some tasty passing movements and, in conjunction with the improved AI, it makes for a more fluid game of football. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect taking hold, but your team-mates now seem to make more intelligent runs, creating space for themselves inviting you to play a through ball. The AI works both ways, with better positional play in defence too. For example, the opposition AI is no longer as susceptible to the lofted through ball down the line which has always proved to be a dead cert in previous FIFA titles.

It seems as if many of the tweaks have been made to fix annoyances in FIFA 10. Keeper behaviour is less erratic, it’s harder to lob them from in and around the 18 yard box and, mercifully, they now seem capable of dealing with front post crosses. They’ve also got out of the habit of hoofing the ball upfield at every opportunity and will throw the ball out much more regularly. EA has also tweaked the penalty-taking mechanic too, adding in a composure meter. As well as directing your shot, you’ll also have to hit the sweet spot of  the meter to avoid a Chris Waddle-esque orbit-ball. It’s clearly designed to convey some of the tension and atmosphere of the world’s most famous footballing competition and this is a theme that runs throughout the game.{PAGE TITLE=2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Hands On 2 Page 2}Presentation has been ramped up considerably in FIFA World Cup in an attempt to capture some of the “carnival atmosphere.” From a visual perspective, that means you can expect team-specific crowd shots during games, improved player likenesses and lovely textured pitches. You’ll also see team managers pacing their respective technical areas throughout the game. It may not sound like much, but it all combines to create an experience which is more like a TV broadcast than ever before. FIFA fans will also be glad to know that EA has finally got rid of the Martin Tyler and Andy Gray commentary track and replaced it with a much-improved Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend effort.But the presentational improvements go beyond the matches themselves and extend to every aspect of the game. One of the main criticisms of FIFA 10 was that the dev team didn’t do enough to make you feel part of a footballing world. Whether you were playing Manager Mode or Be A Pro Seasons, it still felt like you were playing in isolation, with no real feeling that there was football going on outside of your own matches. This has been acknowledged in FIFA World Cup and it’s clear the dev team understands that it’s important to know what’s going on around you. Accordingly, in the World Cup mode you’ll see tournament and team news on the central hub, as well as hearing score updates from the commentators in the matches.This becomes even more prevalent in the excellent Captain Your Country mode, which returns from UEFA Euro 2008. You can create a player, import a created player from FIFA 10 or take control of an existing player and there’s a compelling sense of progression in the game. You’ll begin as a fringe player, trying to perform your way into the first team, getting feedback from the coach throughout as well as being placed in a group with three other rival players. In the CYC matches themselves, you’ll see performance indicators for you and your rivals, giving you a welcome real time performance rating. At half time and full time, you’ll also get a much more detailed statistical breakdown of your performance. CYC/BAP is clearly evolving into something more compelling with each iteration of FIFA and what began as another game mode is quickly becoming the core single player experience in the game.

EA has also seen fit to squeeze in a couple of extra game modes this time around too, in the form of the Story of Qualifying and Story of the Finals modes. The first allows you to replay crucial moments from the World Cup’s qualifying stages challenges you to rewrite history, One involves beating France as the Republic of Ireland following Thierry Henry’s infamous handball incident. The Story of the Finals mode is even more interesting and will allow you to change the course of the finals via free DLC challenges. If, God forbid, England happen to lose on penalties again, you’ll be able to download a challenge and get some catharsis by changing history. A nifty feature, made all the more appealing by the lack of price tag. If we had any worries about value for money in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, we don’t any more. 

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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