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Score: 6.5 / 10
When the Wii first launched in North
America, it came packaged with a full-fledged game/tech demo known as
Wii Sports, showcasing the revolutionary motion controls through a
series of short but ultimately satisfying sports games. Baseball,
Tennis, Golf, and Boxing rounded up the Wii-cific (another term coined
by yours truly) content, offering a quick fix of what the Wii could do,
and open up possibilities for future, lengthier titles.
Yet something was missing from Wii Sports, and that would be soccer (or
futball, depending where you live or how hip you consider yourself);
While not the most ideal sports title to play with a hand-based motion
control, soccer fans were no doubt curious to see how their preferred
sport could be handled on Nintendo’s wee little Wii. Ever eager to show
that they’re the ones ‘in the game”, EA Sports has
delivered with FIFA Soccer 10. But does
this latest title make proper use of the Wiimote, or does it feel like
kicking with two left feet?
There’s no need to get into the story of FIFA, because there isn’t one;
if you’re looking for info on the history of soccer or what FIFA even
stands for, check out Wikipedia. For the rest of us spastic gamers, all
you need to know is that one team must out-goal the other through a
series of single matches or a multi-bracket
tournament until one victor out as king of the quick kicks (or whatever
emasculating term soccer players use). The gameplay is the most
important factor here, and as a whole it certainly satisfies.
FIFA follows the basic soccer interface, with two teams on an open field
fighting for the ball and making their way to the opposing team’s goal.
The game sports two control styles, Advanced (which uses both the
Wiimote and nunchuk) or Pointer (which solely uses the Wiimote).
Advanced is simple enough to grasp, focusing more on the nunchuk’s
analog stick to pass the ball between fellow teammates, but Pointer is
where things feel a bit more Wii-spific (has it caught on yet?); Using
the Wiimote to manually control the direction of the ball works
surprisingly well, and targeting which of your teammates you wish to
pass the ball to is as fluid as a PC mouse. What isn’t quite as
responsive, however, is the on-screen strength meter, which is used by
holding down a button to determine how far you’ll kick the ball. All too
often, you may overshoot your pass, thereby missing your open teammate
and having the soccer ball make a beeline to the open field….or even
worse, into the hands of an open rival.
Don’t expect the AI team to stand back and let you execute all the
waggling passes and kicks; have one teammate dawdle with the ball too
long and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a group of legs ready to
lasso your ball away. Fortunately, you’re also equipped with a few
defensive measures to wrestle the ball back, most notably a slide tackle
that can be executed with a shake of the Wiimote. Don’t abuse it too
much, however, for if you kick an opponent in the shins, you may get
flagged, thus giving your rivals a free kick toward your goal.
Fortunately, Wiimote shaking can also be used to keep a missile-guided
ball from zooming past your goalie; just before a ball hits the goal, it
will turn solid green, giving players a split second to counter the pass
with a shake. This indicator can also be used to score a penalty kick to
the opposing team’s goal, as a perfectly timed Wiimote shake can result
in a perfect kick nearly impossible to intercept, or a lousy shot that
could be blocked by a fat high school kid failing gym class.
For futball players needing an extra hand or two, the game also features
unlockable Boosters, which are equippable bonuses that can raise certain
stats, such as increased speed, or to learn new abilities such as trick
shots to really throw goalies for a loop. Most of these Boosters can be
obtained from the game’s Manager Mode, which allows players to
experience life as a game manager struggling to take his team to the
top. Before each game, you can choose to make a pre-game boast, such as
promising to win the game by a certain score, or to keep the opposing
team from making a certain number of goals. Each boast is worth a
certain amount of points, with the most challenging claims offering the
greatest rewards should you manage to make good on your trash talk.
Visually, it’s obvious enough that the Wii can’t replicate the kind of
graphics found in EA’s HD sports titles, but FIFA 10 is (almost)
competent enough; player characters are rendered in a colorful, almost
cel-shaded style and carry a number of unique, often awkward win poses.
What isn’t quite as tolerable is the architecture, with the stadium and
trees looking very drab and devoid of any shadowing or lighting. The
audience members sitting in the sidelines are also very plain, looking
like a bunch of cardboard cutouts from three console generations ago.
The sound holds up much more, with the usual thunderous applause and
claps, along with a constant (but also repetitive) commentary from
snarky Scottish sports casters who delight in telling you how much you
suck should you fail a match.
While it doesn’t quite hold up to the sports titles found in more
powerful consoles, the quick-placed play and the easy-to-use controls
make FIFA a fun distraction for the casual crowd, and even for gamers
who hear the name “Zidane” and think of the main character from Final
Fantasy IX, instead of the guy who considers head-butts as compliments.