There’s a basic problem with FIFA 10 on PC that needs to be addressed up front. EA’s developers don’t believe that PC gamers have machines capable of running the next-generation football engine that powers the game on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Therefore we get a version that feels significantly last-gen, akin to playing on the PS2. So we need to say this right upfront: if you want the best FIFA experience, you’ll want to play it on console. However, EA have at least made some effort to fix the PC version after last year’s dreadful effort – even if it’s only to bring in some of the improvements from the console versions across.
The much-trumpeted step forward this season is 360-degree control, which enables you to make far more subtle adjustments to your directional play. It’s an eloquent answer to the questions of realism raised by FIFA’s eight-directional system, a throwback to an analogue era of single-button joysticks and digital joypads. Now defensive and attacking runs are defter, with the ability to alter your angle smoothly, and shooting feels more natural as a result. Players set themselves up far more realistically now that you can steam toward the goal from any angle you wish.
A more obvious flaw in FIFA 09 was the repetitiveness of its AI opponents, which is where the new Team Styles come in to play. The idea here is that you can exploit your players’ strengths with major tactical changes, above simply retuning the team’s formation. You set your full backs attacking when you need some more attacking options, but also have the team prepared to return to a flat back four if the opposition are pushing you.
By the same token, opposing teams won’t all set out their stall in the same way. Play against a counter-attacking total football side like Arsenal and you’ll be chasing shadows as the world’s most annoyingly talented (well paid, handsome and witty) sportsmen humble your flat-footed cloggers. Take on Blackburn Rovers, with their dependence on a target man, and you’ll find yourself dealing with ceaseless aerial bombardment.
On the pitch, however, our real beef with FIFA hasn’t been addressed. Call us wishy washy, but FIFA just feels like hard work. Irrespective of your style of play, grabbing the ball and trying to fashion a goal-scoring opportunity is rarely as much fun as it would be against real-life Germans, or in FIFA’s main competitor, the Pro Evolution Soccer series. Your players are rarely supported by teammates, and those in shouting distance usually need to be prompted to make a decent run. It’s never as fluid as it needs to be.
All of which sheds an unflattering light on the hoopla around the core game. EA are masters at presenting an experience with myriad options and wonderful attention to detail: there are no fake player names here. The trouble is – when there’s so much room for improvement on the field of play, no amount of extras can put a grin on our mugs.
Sure, the Be A Pro Mode (in which you take over a single star for an entire season) has been extended to include international play, there’s stab at a Manager Mode (even if it pales in comparison to heavyweights like Football Manager and Championship Manager), and we really do appreciate the rapid-fire Season Mode. But PC gamers still deserve more from the actual football bit. And we don’t believe that modern PCs can’t run the equivalent to the console versions.
Oct 14, 2009