#4 of 2009: FIFA 10

Posted December 28th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

The ranking of games in the best of 2009 list is based primarily on the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title. Some other factors include whether advertised features were fully delivered on, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is a personal take on the games. The analysis is weighted largely towards those which I had the most fun with while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the others.

One might argue that the true test of how good a sports game is would be whether it’s enjoyed by those who may not have interest in the actual sport. Some games have shown the ability transcend and actually lead to these people becoming fans of the sports they pick up through gaming. That is one side of the argument. Others would say a simulation style game is to be judged on how well it represents the particular sport. Really it is a combination of the two that makes a game special.

In the last couple years the FIFA franchise has provided the rare offerings that have achieved both due to the accessible nature, realistic gameplay, and online offerings. Worldwide FIFA 10 became the fastest selling sports game of all time and sales grew in the US again this year enough for it to chart in the NPD Top 10 for the first time. I had even more reason to enjoy it after getting caught up in the unexpected fever around the Seattle Sounders. However the game also had its share of problems that have been hot topics in the community.

Online play continued to be excellent in both performance and variety of modes. It is hard to believe when compared to some other sports games that one played worldwide could host full Online Team Play matches that were so smooth and consistent that they felt as if they were being played offline. EA released some online data that revealed over three million online games are played daily which is remarkable to consider.

The game released overseas before hitting the US which meant a bunch of problems with the game were discovered early on and a patch was provided relatively quickly to address some of them. Manager Mode seemed to be plagued by the most issues and even to this day is described by many as being broken.

Interestingly for the first time an excuse that “size limitations” has been given that prevent any further patching. The statement was given in reference to the 360 and thus the PS3 won’t receive another patch either. No other game has ever used this explanation for why further support would no longer be given.

The numerous issues with the game are a clear point of discontent within the community. I can’t say I’ve come across many of the cited problems but then again I don’t dig into FIFA like the hardcore fans do. It was worth noting in the article though that the general sentiment from the hardcore crowd has actually been somewhat slanted towards disappointment and frustration. That might be surprising to many who haven’t been following the developments post-release though it could probably said to an extent about every game released this year.

One of the disappointments I had was with Game Face. This feature had been used successfully in previous titles but was an annoying and frustrating process and many issues were had throughout. Hopefully in the future they are able to streamline the process and provide a better final result.

A cool addition this year for those who like tracking data was with the website FIFA Earth. The site provides all sorts of up-to-the-minute information and can be broken down into various categories. At the time of publishing the number of FIFA 10 online games that have been played was nearing 160 million.

Additional content will be added once again this year when FIFA Ultimate Team arrives in February. Unlike Madden 10 though the Ultimate Team won’t be free. It will be 400 MS points on the 360 or the equivalent $5 on the PS3 but compare that to the 1200 MS/$15 they charged with FIFA 09. So this could still be a very good deal in the value it provides if it extends the enjoyment of the game for an individual.

FIFA 10 continued to provide a great deal of enjoyment despite my relative lack of knowledge surrounding the sport. I’ve always especially appreciated the Online Team Play in FIFA because of the stationary responsibilities and the teamwork it requires.I’ve never felt intimidated due to that which is important in establishing new fans. The FIFA series has helped along my budding interest in the sport which is a sign of how good the last few have been.

#4: FIFA 10
#5: The BIGS 2
#6: NBA Live 10
#7: Madden Arcade
#8: NCAA Football 10
#9: NBA 2K10
#10: Fight Night Round 4
The Worst of 2009