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E3 09: Everything you need to know about FIFA 10

EA changed a lot of football fans opinions in 2008. For the first time, their impressively licensed but unrefined soccer series was polished to the point where many gamers finally now see it as the equal to Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer. If FIFA 09 was a Chelsea under Abramovich-style revolution, then FIFA 10 is an exercise in Everton's incremental team-building. We were at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium for the world’s first hands on of this year’s version. Below are all the new features you must know about. The new season starts here.

360° dribbling

Unlike last year’s game, where players could really only turn in eight directions, FIFA 10 has a new dribbling system that gives you much more control. While it might sound like a cynical buzz word, the new system feels a lot more refined than the dribbling in any other football game, giving you a completely organic turning circle of 360°.

During our three matches with Chelsea and Manchester United, we could genuinely appreciate how much more subtle and varied player movement was with the ball at our feet. Animation for different players is very individual, too, and Chelsea's fleet-footed Joe Cole turns much more fluidly than lumbering defenders like Alex or Vidić.

Your AI teammates now play like seasoned footballers rather than clueless computer cycles

Thanks to a new positioning system, players now behave more realistically than ever before. During a video presentation we were shown examples of players making smarter runs – like Ronaldo making curved runs into space for a through pass, rather than just following the path of the ball.

A.I. teammates also defend much more intelligently as a team now. For instance, holding midfielders, like Michael Essien, often stay back for corners while their centre halves go up for set pieces. So if the opposition hits his team on the counter attack, and John Terry and co. are out of position, Essien can make up for it by tracking the attacker's run and stopping the move.

The manager mode is much more realistic

Aside from the ill-advised choice of using Luis Felipe Scolari as its frontman (who might well be replaced pre-release considering he was given the boot by Chelsea not too long ago), manager mode looks much more comprehensive than last year. Not only are results and league outcomes replicated more closely to real life than before (no more Arsenal in mid-table mediocrity, then), but transfers are also a lot more in-depth and realistic.

So what does this mean for the the likes of Burnley and Birmingham fans? Well, there'll be no signing Torres or Kaka for a kick-off, as it's harder to convince big name stars to sign for less high profile clubs. Managing a minnow-esque club requires dedication and patience - you have to build a competitive team over time - but any trophies won on a shoe string budget are that much more satisfying for the work needed to lift them.

The transfer system will now be updated on a week by week basis to match clubs real wheelings and dealings. A.I. clubs are also more on the ball now. Opposition teams actively monitor your transfer activity and enter into bidding wars to prevent you from signing new players. They rotate their stars according to match importance too, so you can expect to play against weakened sides in the early rounds of cup competitions.

Finally, the way players grow and improve has been vastly expanded. And factors like what club they ply their trade for affects how quickly their stats improve – so your new signing will develop more quickly at Man City than Morecombe.

• You can play 11 vs. 11 practice matches with no loading in the arena mode

• New urgency A.I. means players react and adapt to situations more quickly and are now better at marking and pressing the opposition.

• Through balls are less effective to reduce the number of goals scored on the counter-attack.

• Goalie saves are more realistic – they conserve their energy according to the power of the shot, meaning they won’t throw themselves through the air for weak daisy-cutter efforts anymore.

• The time it takes to complete a crossfield pass is halved from around 3 seconds to 1.5.

• Animations for trick stick moves are shaved, meaning it takes far less time to pull off pirouettes and step-overs.

• Karem Benzema’s the new cover star. But Rooney and Ronaldhino are still fronting the game with him for the European version.

• Tackling is more refined – sliding tackles have greater range but standing tackles are less powerful, making for a more balanced defensive game.

• Players now adjust their bodies more realistically, making it easier and quicker to trap passes.

• The referee now lets play flow after fouls more often to allow for advantages.

June 03, 2009

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