After one play-session, I’m very impressed with FIFA10. Traditionally I always like new football games, so I’m not hanging out the bunting just yet. (If anyone buys FIFA10 based on my early enthusiasm, and then subsequently comes to regret it, it’s nothing to do with me, guv.)
FIFA10 is phenomenal. About halfway through my 5-hour session I puffed out my cheeks and shook my head. I was flabbergasted at how good it was.
A lot of the amazing things were the new additions. The 360-dribbling was very obvious to me for the first time. And now you can get a rainy, muddy pitch with surface water. Spray is sent up by the bouncing ball and players sliding around. You have to be extra-careful with your passing. I hadn’t heard about this new effect, and I was amazed by it.
Not all of the 5 hours was spent playing. Half an hour or more was spent just exploring all the new features.
Virtual Pro is frightening. I uploaded my Gameface, which did look like me. The resulting player looks a bit less like me. But it’s still a reasonable likeness, albeit from about 15 or 20 years ago. It’s almost as if it’s a very close generic face rather than the actual Gameface. Still, it works.
I dropped my Virtual Pro (VP) into the Coventry City team. Your VP instantly becomes your Arena player (pictured right), and you start earning Accomplishment points (i.e. levelling him up) straightaway there in the Arena! There’s so, so much more to it —I could be typing here until midnight.
I went on to play an Exhibition game with Coventry, with my VP in the team. Believe me, it is the eeriest feeling to see yourself on the pitch in a football game. I captured some video of ‘me’ running along in the game. I watched it back just now, and almost ran out of the room screaming in superstitious dread, as if the game had stolen my soul.
The set-piece creator is intriguing. You’re pretty much left to yourself to work it out. I don’t know how effective it’ll be in the longer term. I reckon they’ve made it deliberately not-very-effective. Just my first impression, which can change. For corners, I like the idea of getting all my players to drop back outside the area and wait for a ‘Paul Scholes volley’. I’ll be working on that later tonight.
The practice arena options are superb, and very welcome. Finally you can play 5-a-side (or any-a-side, in any combination) in the Arena. Full practice of free kicks, with a proper wall and everything.
As for the action out on the pitch, in the actual games… I found the core gameplay refreshed, tightened up. It felt very, very satisfying. My speed concerns from the demo are largely gone. Slow really feels slow. It can still speed up when the action gets frantic. But I was often playing at walking pace in midfield even against top teams, just knocking it around, looking for an opening—on Professional and World Class too.
Finally I think I see what 360-dribbling is all about. And it affects more than just dribbling. It’s also about passing. With the increased sensitivity of the analogue stick’s aim, semi-assisted passing now feels a lot like manual used to feel. Now on semi, if you want to pass to a team-mate directly ‘above’ you on-screen, your aim has to be spot-on. A few degrees to either side of ’12 o’clock’ and the pass goes astray. Semi-assisted passing has never been like that until now. You used to be able to get away with sloppy aiming, helped by the ‘assisted’ part of ‘semi-assisted’. Not any more.
Here’s a decent goal from my first session—Steven Gerrard with a hard, low shot:
I haven’t got time right now to talk about player indivduality in FIFA10. I think it’s much improved, long with team individuality. I played a custom World Cup where my three group opponents—Ireland, Spain, and Bulgaria—all played differently and presented three very different challenges.
So much has been written on the forums about long-range shooting being easy, or glitchy. It used to be a common libel against FIFA that you could score from distance at will. Now there’s a strong case being made on the forums that those days are unfortunately back again. Do goals from distance in FIFA10 have any intrinsic value? It’s an open debate right now.
I’m still not happy with how effective the secondary pressure button is on next-gen FIFA. If any gameplay mechanic was ripe for a good old NERFing, it’s that one. I shudder to think what kind of football is being played online. This beautiful game is probably unrecognisable. I read someone yesterday comparing FIFA online to Rugby, with players totally focused on chasing each other down all the time. It’s funny because it’s true.
But those are minor notes of discord. I spent most of session 1 on FIFA10 wondering if I’d somehow been given a different game from everyone else on the various forums. I think it handles brilliantly. It plays a lot slower—the Slow setting often feels very slow indeed. After my first full game with long, luxurious 6-minute halves I understood 360-dribbling and the whole shebang a lot better than after many attempts at the demo.
My session 1 *1st Impressions only* score would be 9.5/10. Maybe even 10/10. I’m not kidding. [EDIT, added to remove confusion: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW SCORE. This post is NOT a review of FIFA10. It just reflects my enjoyment of this first session.] I had the same ecstatic reaction to FIFA09 last year, so even I’m taking it with a pinch of salt right now. But it feels good to be blown away by a football game, and I am.
Great stuff. I’ll be having another session later, and many more over the weekend. At some point I’ll have to start a Manager Mode career, to see if the bad things I hear about it are true. Monday’s post will be my 2nd Impressions of FIFA10. How different will they be?