2010 FIFA World Cup Impressions

Posted May 5th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Over the last year or so I’ve really started to take more of an interest in soccer, and though I’ve found myself enjoying the FIFA franchise it has been to a somewhat limited extent. I’ve spent most of my gaming time with Online Team Play which has provided for the cooperative play where I could concentrate on a single position and learn the game in the process. The actual standard mode hasn’t been all that compelling to me.

In the past I’ve had a tendency to enjoy the off-year FIFA titles more than the yearly ones and World Cup in particular. So it wouldn’t be a huge surprise in that respect, but I have been taken aback by just how much fun 2010 FIFA World Cup is. There is an addictive quality to it that has become increasingly rare out of sports titles the last few years.

There was a discussion going on the Facebook page a few days ago about how the game fits in with the FIFA series. World Cup is clearly designed to be faster paced, more open and more forgiving, and that seems to have great appeal to those who maybe aren’t hardcore FIFA gamers or even big fans of the sport. In some respect it serves as a bridge to the yearly FIFA franchise. Gamers feel comfortable and have fun with a World Cup or UEFA game and then move on to purchase the FIFA titles yearly.

I have had a stunningly great time playing World Cup thus far. My impressions aren’t based on breaking down gameplay elements. It’s just about the fun that I have experienced and how I’ve gotten hooked on a game that I wasn’t so sure I even cared that much about before I gave it a shot. The very first match I played against the CPU was thrilling despite a 0-0 final. I then started playing online, and despite being mediocre at best, I’ve had a great time taking on random opponents in ranked games.

The atmosphere of the game is great and really sells the overall experience. The difference in playing in different stadiums, in different weather conditions, at different times of the day is more pronounced then in arguably any sports game to date. Graphically everything is sharp, but my main complaint comes from the cut scenes and replays which do not run fluidly. That includes the entire build-up prior to each match and the cut scenes and replays that appear throughout. They have a poor framerate which can be distracting. What they offer up is great but with them not being smooth it somewhat damages the sense of immersion that comes from them.

The online ranking system is brilliant, and has me invested in playing ranked games more than I would have otherwise. Instead of just having leaderboards (meaning all I care about is tracking my win-loss record) there is a divisional setup known as the “World League Ladder”. That tracks your record over 10 game spans awarding three points for each win and one point for a draw. The points system seems to have motivated me to play more, and makes winning or evening finishing in a tie a much more rewarding feeling.

I was surprised to find that Online Team Play was not included in World Cup. However to this point I actually haven’t missed it. I’ve been hooked on playing online ranked games. Even though some of my opponents have been clearly superior I have enjoyed playing them out. There is something about this game that allows for enjoyment even in losing situations. Plus the pace of the games is seemingly perfect.

Each online game has gone on average for 20 minutes. That is just about ideal for online play. There is less urge to quit out while losing so that benefits everyone online. It also means that someone can sit down and play an online match in a limited amount of time. We’ve seen Madden 11 trying to trim back non-gameplay elements to provide for a more compact experience. FIFA has the benefit of being almost constant action through the always running clock keeping it all tightly wound in that 20 minutes.

Even though the time invested in a particular match is just about 20 minutes, there is no sense of being rushed with the actual gameplay. The halves are six minutes, which sounds really short, but actually provides for plenty of opportunities for both sides. I’ve played just as many 5-1, 4-2 type games as I have 1-0 or 1-1. I must also add that I’ve yet to come across any lag online, each match has played flawlessly.

There is still a lot I haven’t even gotten to yet including the actual World Cup tournament and “Battle of the Nations” online tournaments. Below is the second half of one of the online matches I’ve played.

It seems like everyone playing 2010 FIFA World Cup is loving it based on the comments being made on Twitter and on the Facebook page. So, for those of you with World Cup, what do you think of it so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments!