With over one million games sold in the UK alone, in its first three weeks of sale, FIFA 10 is already a record breaking game. Gamers across the world have been looking forward to its release for months, and they will not be disappointed with standard it brings.
Improvements in the game come without tinkering with the general template. FIFA is now too advanced to worry about anything but small modifications and this time around they are numerous, but all designed to vastly improve the game.
The major move is the introduction of 360 degree dribbling. Previously, players in games like this would work on an eight-point axis, limiting their runs to invisible straight lines on the pitch. Now, each player feels like an individual entity, with the ball flying around like it should.
Indeed, the ball physics have been given a once over. Through balls, bounces and lofted chips behave more like reality and the definition of the ball means that it is actually easier to control. The creation of players is smarter. A Premier League player oozes technique and control, while the physical side of the game shines through if you choose to compete in a League Two encounter. There is more urgency in the players' style too, where you will see desperate lunges attempting to keep the ball on the field, clever off-the-ball runs and improved positioning from defenders.
Goalkeepers - an issue with every football game in history - also have a new feeling about them. Reliability has been improved, but the basic human characteristics that set them apart from outfield players have been kept.
EA takes great credit in the authenticity of its match engine and there's a similar 'wow' factor this time around. The detail is simply stunning, while the polish, detail and professionalism that embodies the presentation of the games is unprecedented. FIFA is made better by the acquisition of official licences and, this season, we are treated to every team and every player in their right place - including the Dutch national team!!!
Live Season 2.0 allows has all the data updates you need and there's an addition of something called Virtual Pro that allows you to create your own image and grow them as a professional player - a dream many gamers will have. Manager Mode has also been improved to remove the unrealistic scenarios of the previous incarnation and there is there traditional setup for the Be a Pro season along with a host of gameplay modes.
One of the main new additions is having the ability set your set-pieces up yourself. While the creator tool is likely to appeal to the hardcore gamer only, the move is unprecedented in football gaming and could prove lethal in the right hands. It certainly adds something different.
If you are going to make any negative comments about this game, you would have to point to the sound. The commentary team of Martin Tyler and Andy Gray have unfortunately been left behind the other advancements, as you still get some of the same tired phrases trotted out by the two pundits. That said, you are treated to a host of new effects in player calls, fan chants and even stadium announcements.
Overall, the game is not a massive improvement on FIFA 09; but then it didn't have to be. The small adjustments that had to be made, have been made, and the look and feel of the new game is such that it feels updated. Certainly the addition of the 360 degree dribbling makes FIFA 10 feel more real, while it has not lost any of the smoothness, fluidity and class that set previous editions apart from their rivals.
The problem that the EA team now face is how to improve upon this version for the next release; although, for now, they should sit back and bask in the realisation that they have made the best football game ever.