With the latest NDAs expiring, we thought we’d bring you up-to-date with our experiences of FIFA 10. The following account is based on our third opportunity to sit down and sample this season’s FIFA offering (on 23rd June this year), using the very latest build of the game available. Click below to read more, and to see the latest screenshots.
As soon as our hands were on the controller we instantly noticed how the game has been slowed down just a touch from what we had played a month earlier, but that didn’t seem to hurt the response times. The game remains faster than FIFA 08 but slower than FIFA 09. Control was much more fluid, as the 360 dribbling seemed more responsive and accurate than before – frustrating sometimes, especially when you’re trying to get used to it and your own inaccuracy makes you dribble off the pitch! They have taken a risk incorporating a new feature that many in the past have feared to introduce as it could break a game, but they have done it successfully in my opinion. This is a great starting platform for them and this will only improve year on year.
Physical play has been tweaked this season. Last year the bigger player (more physical player) was always at an advantage. This year even if you are getting knocked off the ball, depending on your player’s dribbling attribute you can still keep your foot out to control it whilst being pushed away (Messi style). This is due to players with higher dribble skill having a much larger ball control area – i.e. a certain circumference – that allows them to remain in control even whilst being involved in physical battles. It was much more prominent in this build and it’s a very realistic addition to the physical aspect of game, pitting physicality against skill.
The most talked-about thing since the event though has probably been the ball physics, which have to be seen to be believed. Gary Paterson and Aaron McHardy are going to be constantly tweaking and fine-tuning them up to release, but as things stand it’s hard to see where they can be improved. I’ll try and explain what I’m talking about but without “feeling” it for yourself it’s hard to get things across…
The ball moves across the pitch much more quickly, meaning that – well, try playing PES and then playing FIFA, and the first thing you notice is how sluggishly the ball moves when you want to do a short, BUT QUICK, pass. This has been improved hugely, and the ball now spends half the time that it used to in the air. This was highlighted previously but it was much more significant in this build. Passing is fluid and a lot more realistic, especially when you’re under pressure.
Timing has become a key factor in making a pass. For instance, if you press the pass button when the ball is at the edge of the player’s reach then it will be off-course and weak. Finally, to top it off, shooting has been tweaked since the last build and the ball is now truly moving as it should. When you cross the ball, when it takes little deflections on the way towards the goal, even when you’re just moving forward with the ball at your feet and it’s making contact with the ground, the physics are perfect.
Animations have been improved from the previous build as they seem more fluid, and within a few games it becomes apparent just how many new additions there are. What has impressed us the most about this area though is that whilst implementing 360 dribbling, the development team have incorporated new animations to make the transition from 8 direction dribbling to 360 dribbling seamless and pleasing to the eye. They deserve a lot of credit for this, and graphics on the whole were visibly sharper in this build, but it’s still too early to comment on fully as we’re told this will be one of the last areas they focus on before the game is released.
The fans cried for a more fully-featured practice mode, and the development team have kindly provided one. In this mode you can play anything from 11v11 down to 2v2 (which is being referred to as “Death Mode”), and all numbers in-between – so 11v4 if that’s what you want to do. But of course, with this being mentioned already, you’ll realise this isn’t the “surprise feature” that David Rutter (FIFA 10 producer) was referring to on his Twitter page.
He was referring to FIFA’s latest innovation, and something you won’t be seeing in any other football game this year apart from a manager game or two; the set piece creator. Now as soon as this was announced, our first thought was “this is going to get exploited to death online”, but it’s still undecided whether you’ll be able to access the feature online and even if they do, EA have pledged in the online article below that they are going to keep the cheats out. If they can keep that promise then this really is a great addition for football purists that allows you to truly customise your set plays with multiple player movements and runs in any direction whilst allowing you to control the timing of the runs made. The end result is endless variation and depth to your free kicks and corners, so that you don’t have to rely on predictable AI.
All in all, if there’s one thing that can be said about FIFA as time goes by, it’s this; year by year it is aiming to become the most accurate, and intricate, football simulation available. With additions like 360 dribbling, the learning curve is the steepest that it has ever been – perhaps the steepest in any football game – and this will be the biggest point that seperates the reviewers (it’s even causing debates here at FSB).
You won’t master the game in a few short days and many will say this is a hugely positive thing; others may not. Many sports fans point to the NBA 2K series (produced by 2K Sports) and the NHL series (produced by EA SPORTS) as definitive sports simulations that FIFA – and all sports games – should look up to. There is no doubt that FIFA is very much heading in that direction, building on a successful core, refining and innovating along the way.