William Abner, Crispy Gamer

'EA Sports' incredibly strong fall lineup continues with the release of FIFA Soccer 10, a game that builds upon the strengths of last year's stellar version just enough to make a new purchase worthwhile

What's Hot: 360 Dribbling is superb; Many gameplay refinements.

What's Not: Manager mode remains sketchy.

Crispy Gamer Says:Buy

EA Sports' incredibly strong fall lineup continues with the release of "FIFA Soccer 10," a game that builds upon the strengths of last year's stellar version just enough to make a new purchase worthwhile.

"FIFA 10" isn't the kind of yearly sports-game upgrade that will bowl you over with hot new features. In fact, FIFA's game case only touts four things: joining an online Club, the new Virtual Pro mode, the new Practice Arena where you can design your own Set Piece strategy, and the new 360 Dribbling.

There isn't a whole lot that is "new" in this year's game, and that's OK. The real reason to pick up "FIFA 10" is that it plays a better game of soccer than any other videogame to date.

360 Dribbling is perhaps the most important addition to the game. In the past, "FIFA" (and other soccer games) played on the angles -- meaning players didn't have true 360-degree free movement. As a result, the games always felt fake and stilted. Here, the movement of the player is completely free. No longer do players only turn in sharp angles. Rather, they take wide, sweeping turns or short, choppy steps when cutting. It not only looks much better, but it helps to make "FIFA" a more realistic game.

Another improvement that should have been listed on the back of the case is the overall ball physics. Last year you'd see multiple shots hit the post each and every game; this is no longer the case. In fact, the ball physics look absolutely lifelike. The way the players relate to the ball is a thing of beauty.

Other aspects of the gameplay have been tightened. Fouls are called more often, so you'll see many more free kicks on challenges that aren't slide tackles. Sometimes a hard knocking off the ball will result in a foul. Quick kicks are now in the game, which can catch your opponent off-guard. And the artificial intelligence for teammates is vastly improved; no longer will they stand and spin in place when receiving a pass. There's a lot of stuff like this in "FIFA 10" -- it's not all groundbreaking, but the screws have clearly been tightened.

The Virtual Pro mode is similar to the old Be a Pro mode, but here you can take your low-rated persona and immediately play in matches offline or online, earning experience as you go (even in the practice arena). The game allows you to create and download your "face in the game" on easports.com, if you're into that sort of thing.

Manager mode remains a weak spot. While the fatigue issue from "FIFA 09" is fixed, the simulation engine is still a bit shaky, to say the least. The results don't make a lot of sense at times, but you just can't take it too seriously. Running your team is a blast -- just don't pay too much attention to what's going on around you. If you're into soccer management games, stick with Championship Manager.

Manager mode quirks should in no way keep you from buying this game. "FIFA 10" is a marvelous achievement -- not because of a shiny new feature set, but because EA Canada did the dirty work to make this game play a better, more realistic and entertaining brand of soccer.

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.






Video Games: FIFA Soccer 10 - Xbox 360