IGN Review of FIFA Soccer 10
Putting complex sports games on Nintendo's Wii is a tough process for developers. Not only do they have to try and make the title accessible to the system's more casual audience, but they also have to stay loyal to those fans who expect their sport to be properly replicated. It's an issue that FIFA 10 is clearly still struggling with, but even with those issues the game manages to provide solid, simplistic arcade fun.
The first thing that you'll notice when you pop FIFA 10 into your disc drive is that the amount of game modes has been ratcheted back considerably from other console versions. Manager Mode is now known as Battle for Glory and presents a few of the trimmings that you're used to, while adding a few Wii-centric features as well. You can still transfer players and check up on stats, but the feeling of actually being in control of a hugely important European (or elsewhere) club has been largely removed. Thankfully there's a fun Wii feature that casual soccer fans will appreciate. Before every game you'll select one of three "Manager Moments" which act as goals for the upcoming contest. If you successfully complete your goal, you'll be rewarded with attribute points for your entire team. I think it would have been better to add the attribute points to specific players, but the sweeping improvements will suffice.
Not only do you get needed attribute points to better your squad, but you'll get valuable game booster cards. Once you've completed enough of your Manager Moment goals, you'll be rewarded with a game booster that does things like improve your players' health, speed them up or increase the effectiveness of their shots. You can either spend the cards immediately or save them up in order to create a hugely powerful super game booster. I think the booster system is a great addition that feels totally at home on the Wii. I wish that FIFA 10 on Wii featured a Be A Pro style career mode as game boosters seem perfectly tailored to it.
Elsewhere you'll find Tournament Mode where you'll battle for one of the many cups that the different leagues vie for each season. There isn't a whole lot to this mode beyond the series of games that you'll play, but at least there's the carrot of a real world trophy waiting for you at the end of the tourney to keep you going.
There's also a solid online mode that allows you to play ranked or unranked matches against one other person or two-on-two soccer in an unranked game. The mode performed well enough but doesn't go beyond the standalone matches that we've seen from other games. Every mode in FIFA 10 on Wii performs well, there just aren't enough, especially when you compare it to the heap of activities that are available on other consoles. I'd feel much more comfortable recommending FIFA 10 to a more hardcore soccer fan had it included some sort of fully-featured career mode. Sadly that isn't the case.
Once you hop onto the pitch you'll be treated to a game that is totally unlike FIFA 09 on the same system. Gone are the PS2 port graphics and they've been replaced with a cartoony visual style that is much more in tune with the feel of the Wii. Player details look a bit rigid but they move well and are comparable to their real world counterparts, despite the stylized look. Sadly there are some framerate hitches that crop up, mainly on instant replays (a problem that has plagued FIFA for some time on other systems).
The core gameplay still feels a bit old hat, especially when you spend some time with other versions of the game. Movements are still constricted to eight directions and the physical interactions are limited on the field. While these aren't problems, it's worth noting the changes in realism. Thankfully things have been tuned reasonably for the Wii. My biggest problem is the way through balls are handled. Both standard passes and crosses can be modified into through balls but that can only be done by holding the button down. I wound up getting through balls that were too short or too long or weren't through balls at all. It's a very annoying way of handling such a critical element of the game.
Other soccer mainstays have been totally revamped to fit in with the Wii's mentality. Penalty kicks, free kicks and corner kicks are a mini-game of sorts. For penalty kicks and free kicks you'll need to press B to shoot the ball and then you'll need to shake the Wii remote as your player gets closer to the ball. It's disappointing that you don't have control over the direction of your shot. Instead the quality is determined by when you shake the Wii remote. To defend the shot, the opposing player will need to shake his remote when the ball glows green. The better the shot, the shorter the amount of time the ball will stay green. Corners are handled similarly, but all you need to do to send the ball in is press a button and then shake the Wii remote at the proper time. I got way too many goals off of corner kicks because of the ease of the mechanic, especially when playing online where timing is key and can get messed up with the varying latency of a connection.
Other action on the pitch is more traditional. Shooting is done with a shake of the Wii remote, passing is button-based as are special dribbling moves with the use of the d-pad. Moves and shot types can be expanded to become flashier with the use of booster cards but never get to the point of being overly arcadey. What does get overly arcadey is the momentum feature. Basically there's a momentum meter at the bottom of the screen that builds and will eventually start glowing green. Once that happens just about any shot you take will be super-powered and is prefaced by a Matrix-y slow-motion effect (sound effect included). The effect is fun and gives life to the game the first time you see it, but after a few matches you'll grow tired of the same thing over and over again. Hopefully next year they'll find a way to switch it up but keep the same impact of gaining momentum. I also have a problem with how you build momentum in a match. Instead of having the momentum continually build as you make your way up the field, I would've preferred it to increase as you launch shots at the goal. Not only would this be more realistic, but it would also make the feat of launching a slow-mo shot all the more special.
If you don't want to deal with the complexities that the sport of soccer brings, there are numerous control options for Wii gamers to try. There's the standard (and my personal favorite) of the remote and nunchuk together, there's the option to use a classic controller, or a Wii remote by its lonesome in either advanced play or the family alternative of All Play. All Play is probably the worst of all of these offerings, followed by the advanced play with the lone remote. All Play is infuriating because the AI is charged with deciding on where to pass the ball and it rarely makes sensible decisions. Playing the advanced version with just a remote is a little tedious because you have to use the IR sensor to point where you want to pass the ball. For the best experience, keep both controllers in your hands.
The sound on the pitch is kept at a high level by the duo in the commentary booth. Their quips are occasionally off the mark and they don't seem as generally varied as on other consoles, but they're entertaining and insightful for the most part. Crowd sounds are a little less exciting than I'd like, but they still service the action well. For whatever reason EA Sports decided to kick its usual soundtrack offering to the curb and instead offers an odd assortment of techno beats that you thankfully won't have to hear for very long.
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