FIFA Soccer 10 Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

FIFA Soccer 10 Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Déjà Vu

Soccer is a very complex sport to adapt to a handheld gaming console. There’s a hundred different things to map to the controls, and even the consoles rely on complex control schemes to pull it all together. So immediately, the odds are stacked against FIFA 10. And yet, year after year EA gets better at it, and while it’s still not perfect, this year EA has fine-tuned the formula even further, and the result is a fantastic soccer game on its own. But it’s still not a definitive “must-own” experience. That said, those who bought FIFA 09 for the PSP should think twice about whether or not the new features introduced in FIFA 10 are worth buying a whole new game for.

FIFA Soccer 10 screenshot

There isn’t really a big new feature into which fans can sink their teeth. This iteration in the series is mostly just fine-tuning to a formula that was already fairly polished. As a result, most of the changes herein are things that many players may never even notice. Some of the changes include better goalkeeper logic, finer dribbling control, more realistic player growth in manager mode, and better animation technology.

If those kinds of things excite you, then by all means run out immediately and buy this game, because you’re going to be in heaven. FIFA 10 is certainly the most technically adept soccer game available on the system, but it’s possible that the series has reached a plateau on this system.

One of my favorite inclusions is relatively small but a nice thought, nonetheless. Pre-game scouting reports show up during load screens and will give you a quick tutorial on what to expect from the team you’re about to play. It will show you the team’s star player and where he plays as well as key scoring and defending strategies that the team is likely to use. It’s a nice thought that helps more casual football fans to get a finer understanding of the game.

FIFA Soccer 10 screenshot

There are certain issues that are inevitable when attempting to build a soccer game for the PSP. Narrow field view is assured due to the small screen, precise control is virtually impossible to map to the analog nub, and ball control options are always going to be limited because of the small number of accessible buttons on the PSP. In addition, EA has not addressed the long load times that plague this series’ portable efforts. It can take up to four minutes just to get a single match loaded. And that’s just if you want to quick start an exhibition match. It’s even longer if you’re loading a save file or restarting a season. On a system that’s supposed to be designed for fifteen minute play sessions this amount of down time is an eternity, and it’s something that EA desperately needs to work on.

Thankfully, these are some of the only issues that FIFA 10 has. Otherwise, the game plays very well. Perhaps most importantly, the AI is really quite fantastic. Enemy defenders play smart zonal defense during early parts of the game but also seem to actually change their style if they’re losing or tied late in the game and will start to play more aggressively, pressing and attacking strikers.

FIFA Soccer 10 screenshot

Equally as fantastic are the graphics and animations, however, keep in mind these improvements are also iterative – there’s no quantum leap here. The graphics are better than the last game, featuring clearer textures and an all-new animation system, but it’s nothing to write home about.

The same story rings true with the audio. While the voice acting is great from the announcers, and most of the broadcasting pretty accurately simulates what it’s like to listen to a soccer match, there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before. It’s mostly the same old dialogue that’s repeated just a little bit too much so that it’s noticeable once in a while. The track list is pretty vast, but it seems to be catering mostly to European gamers, although occasionally you’ll hear a reggae song or some Latin American pop.

FIFA Soccer 10 screenshot

The gameplay is what truly matters, though, and FIFA still delivers with some of the most complete gaming options available for any sports game. The fantastic Be a Pro mode has returned from the last game, which places you in the shoes of a single player for the entire season. You play games as only that player, and you level up by playing well, winning games, and completing goals in each match.

The only issue with this mode is that matches can get somewhat boring. When you’re only allowed to control a single player, you’re really forced to choose between your own fun and your team’s well-being. You can call for the ball all the time and take control, but your team is likely to suffer. And conversely, if you stay in position and let your teammates handle the ball most of the time, then you’re going to have a downright awful time. It’s possible to find an agreeable medium, but it would have been nice for EA to have addressed this in the new version.

There are also multiplayer options via ad-hoc and wireless connections, although we had trouble even connecting to EA’s server much less finding a lag-free match.

The fact is, FIFA 10 just plays way too much like FIFA 09. And when you consider that last year we said that FIFA 09 was way too much like FIFA 08, you start to realize that this series has been doing nothing but lateral motion for the better part of three years. Since then, there have been no significant steps forward for the series, and we’re hoping that the next iteration will be a better effort. Still though, it’s worth noting that if you haven’t played either of the last two iterations, this is a great soccer simulation, and it’s worth a place in your library.

FIFA 10 still looks great, although it’s not a huge improvement over the last two games. Some players still look nothing like their real selves. 3.6 Control
Soccer is somewhat tough to control with the PSP, but FIFA 10 handles it pretty well by implementing a simple control scheme that cuts down on control pad clutter. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There is a rather expansive soundtrack with a wide range of songs, most of which are at least decent. In-game commentators are good, responding well to on-screen events, although they often repeat themselves a bit too much. 3.5 Play Value
FIFA 10 is still a great soccer game like its predecessors, but the problem is that it’s just not different enough. There’s a lot to do in the game, and tons of licensed teams and players, but series veterans will feel like they’ve been here before. 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • More Responsive Gameplay – Various areas of the game have been enhanced to allow for a more fluid experience. Heading and crossing have been improved, player switching is now more effective, skill moves are now easier to pull off, players now have the ability to auto-evade slide tackles in certain scenarios, and quick free kicks have been added so the user can keep the game tempo going.
  • Be A Pro: Club and Country – Take your player from the beginning of his career to the peak of international stardom in the new revamped Be A Pro mode. Grow your professional player at the club level and work your way into your national team in one of the most grueling challenges of any professional players’ career.
  • Updated collision system – New collision avoidance system means that players are less likely to get in the way and collide with team mates.
  • Improved teammates support – Team mates are now more intelligent, providing a greater level of support. Support runs are now more effective, and there are increased passing and crossing options as a result.
  • Improved goalkeepers – Goalkeeper AI intelligence has been improved, so that keepers now make more authentic decisions, with improved variation in shot stopping and deflections. They are quicker off their line in 1 on 1 situation, and behave in line with their overall team styles.

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