Hands-on: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

Every four years the sports world is graced with the largest soccer tournament on Earth. This year the World Cup will be played on African soil and to celebrate the games we're taking a look at EA's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.


Every four years the sports world is graced with the largest soccer tournament on Earth. This year the World Cup will be played on African soil and to celebrate the games we're taking a look at EA's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

There's something special about EA's FIFA World Cup games. For the most part the action is relatively similar to FIFA 10, but perhaps it's the overall presentation and sense of realism that allow the game to assume its own identity.

Sure, there are a few new features in 2010 FIFA World Cup; you can now play the entire tournament online and there are some new penalties that get called during the action. A few trite coach cutaways aside, FIFA World Cup really does nail the feeling of excitement associated with the world's greatest sports tournament and is ultimately where the game shines the most.


Those looking for something completely unique from a gameplay standpoint may be disappointed as there aren't too many improvements found here. You may spot a few new replay angles here and there, but the game doesn't up the ante as much as we saw in 2006's Germany World Cup game.

We definitely feel 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is among the most accessible of games simply because of its international appeal and the amount of coverage the actual tournament gets here in the US. Casual soccer fans who may not be in line to buy FIFA each year definitely should give 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa a look as it simplifies the soccer experience unlike the traditional yearly FIFA effort.

EA Sports has learned through its market research that its World Cup-branded FIFA titles tend to appeal to less hard-core video soccer players who are simply inspired by the World Cup to buy the game. Thus, EA tries to make it more accessible to novice players while not offending advanced types. An example of this option is the new two-button control scheme that simplifies the whole passing and shooting situation for those who aren't ready to deal with a layered control scheme.

The folks at EA told me the gameplay has been tweaked from the standard FIFA 2010 game. While I didn't notice much difference when I was playing--it remains one of the most realistic looking sports games out there--you're basically getting a preview of FIFA 2011, which comes out in October. That said, there are some big changes in penalty-kick taking that require some getting used to (I missed more than I made at first). Since penalty kicks are a big part of the World Cup once you get to the knockout rounds, it helps to get this right pretty quickly or you'll find yourself cursing your penalty takers and throwing your controller on the floor in frustration.


You get your Be a Pro style feature in the Captain Your Country mode, which has you starting out as a B-Team player and working your way up the ranks (you can play with three other friends, who can control different players on the same team). And the other real differences involve the online play--EA's billing this as the first-ever full and authentic FIFA World Cup online tournament. Also, to add a little corporate sponsorship flare, EA's teamed up with Coke for some new "exclusive" user-controlled post goal-scoring celebrations (you get codes from Coke products). I find these sort of tie-ins irritating but they seem to be becoming more common.

Just so everybody's clear, you don't get access to club teams from around the world. This one's all about the national teams (I do look forward to the final U.S. roster, which will surely be different from the roster that ships with game but can be updated). I played mostly with the U.S., which more often than not made it out of the first round but encountered trouble in the Round of 16, where it always seemed to be up against Germany. I will probably shift to Brazil pretty soon.

A lot of people are asking whether it's worth buying this title if you already own FIFA 2010 and I'd say it's hard to resist. While it's not a big leap forward by any means, there's enough here for FIFA addicts to dig into to go out and buy this thing.

What do you guys think?

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