|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 27, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
I'm a soccer nut. The World Cup, for me, is the pinnacle of sport on Earth. So naturally, when I found out I was getting a World Cup-specific FIFA to review, I was ecstatic. Heck, I had a great time with EURO 2008 from EA, so 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa had to be even better.
Unfortunately, it fails utterly. This is, plain and simple, a rushed, re-skinned cash-in that does nothing to move the franchise forward and even fails to bring more than a token amount of the magical atmosphere that surrounds the world's most beloved sporting event. Thankfully, the game does feature the same excellent gameplay found in FIFA 10, but this is no reason to pass on that title in favor the World Cup-themed version. Unless you've got a lot of cash to throw around, you'll be better served saving your money and creating a custom tourney in FIFA 10 that's reminiscent of the World Cup structure.
When all is said and done, this game should have been a $15 or $20 DLC offering. At the very least, it could have retailed at a deeply discounted price. Alas, this is not the case. You'll have to shell out full price to get your hands on this title, and I'm telling you, it's a rip-off. The presentation is poor, many player likenesses are curiously awful, a multitude of bugs are present, the fanfare is essentially non-existent, and the cookie-cutter supporters are a joke. Moreover, the only mode that is fresh is the Story of Qualifying feature, the rest are essentially doppelgangers for modes found in FIFA 10 and other predecessors.
You can now play the fully licensed 2010 FIFA World Cup. But, as I mentioned previously, you might as well just create a custom tourney in your favorite soccer game because there isn't enough presentation chops here to make this mode truly compelling; flashes to plotting managers, 2010 World Cup venue fly-ins, confetti-covered sidelines, and glimpses of face-painted and jester-capped fans are the only tastes of the World Cup you'll get. To my utter surprise, there wasn't even "the hypnotic drone of the South African vuvuzela" described in the manual.
Then there's Captain Your Country, which is simply the Virtual Pro mode with the mundane twist that you're controlling your created, imported, or real-life pro in order to earn the right to wear your country's captain's armband instead of rising through the ranks at your favorite club. Nothing really new there. (In case you haven't played Virtual Pro in previous FIFA iterations, you'll play through games as just one player, concentrating on positional play and making the most of your opportunities. While this is a neat concept, it doesn't really work in soccer games because it is dull not having full control over all 11 players.)
Then there's the Online FIFA World Cup feature, which allows you to compete against the world in a World Cup tourney structure. You'll be asked to affiliate yourself with a specific country and then a specific team. The more games you win, the more points you'll accrue for your chosen country in the Battle of Nations competition. After the real World Cup finishes, a winning nation will be declared the best FIFA gaming country in the world. While this is a cool feature now, after July 12th, once the champion is crowned, there will be no real reason to come back to it. Plus, we've seen this before, too.
The only truly unique mode in 2010 FIFA World Cup is the Story of Qualifying option. This allows you to play in a myriad of real-world scenarios that capture some of the best moments from World Cup Qualification. That means you'll have to make a comeback in the waning minutes, hold on to a lead after going a man down, etc. Depending on how well you handle the situation presented in the scenario, you'll be rewarded with points toward your FIFA gamer score for achieving certain predetermined objectives. As you complete these scenarios, you'll eventually unlock events from the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Further, once the World Cup Finals commence, new events will become available, allowing you to take on the best new moments from the upcoming tournament.