After a decade of playing second fiddle to Konami's then-awesome Pro Evolution Soccer series, FIFA is back to being the game the UK GR office plays every lunchtime. But why? Surely it can't just be for the luxury of real player names? It's not. But let's look at the new features first.
Biggest changes over last year:
- Improved AI
- 360 degree dribbling
- 50 new improvements in management mode
Fortunately, it doesn't matter that the list of improvements is almost completely invisible when you're looking for bullet points to coo over on the box. It's all in the gameplay.
It's been a classic Roy of the Rovers-style turnaround. The game has come from several goals down to Pro Evolution Soccer to breaking level last year and then smashing home a wondergoal to take the lead. Where PES has faltered since moving to next-gen systems, FIFA has gone from strength to strength. And regardless of the updated player roster that used to carry sales despite underwhelming gameplay, everything here is an improvement over last year's effort making it a worthy game in its own right.
Above: FIFA 10's boxart. Walcott, Rooney and Lamps look mighty hungry
Improved ball physics, tighter dribbling control and the (nearly) completely fixed lofted through-ball defender spasm – it's getting much better. Not perfect, mind, but noticeably better with each new iteration. Hopefully FIFA 2011 will get rid of the pinball games in the penalty area and the way you can lose possession when your player leaps over a horror challenge. We're still certain there's scope for an even better game to come in, but until then, FIFA's king of the park.
Is it worth the upgrade? Absolutely. And if current form is anything to go by, FIFA 11 is going to be spectacular.
This is another example of a once-great series run in to the ground with year after year of minimal progress. It's simply gone stale.
You could argue it's the opposition that's done it. After all, if you want violence, there's the Ultimate Fighting Championship to get under your nails. If you want to see the Divas in a bra and panties match, there's the better-looking Rumble Roses XX to ogle. And the fighting itself is deeper in pretty much any dedicated one-on-one fighter.
But that's not the problem, is it? It's this:
Biggest changes over last version:
- Story designer
- Clothes customisation
- Share customised characters online
- Customise your story and characters and share them online
User-generated content may well have been the buzzword(s) in console gaming over the last couple of years, but shouting about it as a game's biggest (only?) new feature doesn't bode well for the rest of the game. Mind you, who could resist this?
Above: What would you have him say? A: "Really? Did you throw it back?" or B: "I think your expectations are unrealistic". YOU decide!
Is it worth the upgrade? No. Or perhaps just this one time so you can create future updates yourself. You see, the character rosters in these games are almost always out of date even by the time the game hits the shelves due to the real life soap opera of drama and change, so the best character creation mode is desirable.
But don't expect anything major to change in the near future. The last ten years has taught us that, not to mention the average score for the game today is the same now as it was four years ago. Sigh...
What have we learned? Brands can lose their appeal through over-familiarity no matter how different the content is each time (just look at Need For Speed for proof of that). Publishers are damaging long-term brand reputation by milking their most-prized series for short-term gains (see Guitar Hero). The law of diminishing returns is well documented, so perhaps they'd do better in the long-run if some time was left between sequels so gamers really notice the difference when the genuinely new version finally comes along.
With broadband access now fairly commonplace and people familar with the idea of DLC, we see no reason why games shouldn't be given update patches to keep player rosters accurate and add new game modes if needed. Compared to making a whole new game, we'd imagine the cost/profit ratio is highly inviting for publishers.
Burnout Paradise's extra content (bar the Big Surf Island expansion) was all delivered for free, when it could easily have been a few hundred Microsoft Points. Would we have minded? Probably not. Especially if it meant our existing games are kept fresh for a few pennies instead of being made obsolete with a full-price purchase required every 12 months.
The publishers would be happy, the devs would have more time to craft a masterpiece and us gamers would have cheap, fresh content.
Makes sense to us. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
12 Jan, 2010
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