Sports games take a lot of flack from gamers and reviewers and such. If you don't do something that is hands down better than the previous year's game, then you shouldn't even bother putting it on a store shelf. But it isn't always the easiest thing to do, outshining the previous installment. However, despite the difficulty, a few games have been able to succeed. NHL 10 was better than NHL 09, as was NBA Live 10 over NBA Live 09 and now FIFA 10 can be added in the group as well.
With sports game, gamers are always wanting some big, mind blowing new addition or stunning graphics to enhance the game. While FIFA 10 doesn't quite have those large improvements, it does manage to improve on every traditional aspect of the sport.
The first and foremost difference in the game is the tempo and feel of the game. FIFA 10 is immensely smoother and faster paced than it's 09 counterpart. While the play in FIFA 09 was very smooth and fast to begin with, FIFA 10 just takes it to the next level. The player movement is much more fluid than the 09 game and the added features to what you can do on the field also helps a lot. For example, physical play has been given an upgrade. In FIFA 09, you could bump and push a little to get the ball, however in FIFA 10, physical play is much more intense. Now you can actually fight for the ball for longer than 3 seconds, pushing back at your attacker. Also, player sizes are also used better. A large veteran defensive player can easily throw a light weight attacker off the ball, granted he can keep up with his speed. Another great feature is what I like to call the "jump over" maneuver. In 09, when a player attempted a slide tackle, if they got the ball or were close to it your player would either fall or stumble and lose possession of the ball. In 10 your player, if the slide tackle is poorly executed, will pass the ball around the defender and jump over him, continuing the play. This was slightly prevalent in FIFA 09 though FIFA 10 has greatly improved on the feature.
The AI intelligence has also been greatly improved. Defenders will now clear the ball better than just randomly booting it around. They will attempt to put the ball in logical locations given the opportunity. The goalie AI has also been greatly increased. Goalies now do a much better job of getting rid of balls and making the save. Goalies now jump and punch the ball out if necessary and are better on stopping second chance goals. If your goalie blocks the shot back into play and the attacker goes for a follow up shot, your goalie will work harder to get into position and dive back to block the shot. The improved goalie AI is definitely a refreshing take on the goalies of 09. While good, the 09 goalies were severely limited in their abilities.
Dribbling has been given a nice upgrade. There is no more eight-direction dribbling like that seen in FIFA 09. The eight-direction dribbling greatly limited your abilities. Now you can move in any direction as well as switching the ball from your strong to weak foot depending on your angle and you can also pull off even more spectacular dribbling moves, should you be brave enough to attempt them. If you take this and add it to the improved physical play, you get a feeling of soccer authenticity that almost uncanny.
The Virtual Pro mode is a fantastic feature. It starts off sort of the same way as the previous Be A Pro mode (which is still included). You make a player and customize his attributes to your play style and sculpt his looks to your liking. You can even upload a picture of your own face and design a character that way as well. Virtual Pro differs from Be A Pro in one major way. Instead of being confined to a Be A Pro match where you are stuck using your noob player, you can now use our created player in any game mode. He can be used in the all new practice arena and work on drills and scrimmages, take him in a Play Now match, or take him into manager mode. You can also take him online and play in a Pro Club Championship with tons of other Virtual Pros. Along with the player creation is the ability to create custom set pieces and player runs. Creating your own unique play is a definite plus and will make for some very interesting and competitive player v.s. player matches.
Graphically, FIFA 10 has made small yet noticeable changes. Stuttering during instant replays has been fixed and the framerate also holds up better in Be A Pro gameplay. You also want to play this game with the volume cranked up to 11 because the crowds are loud and proud for their teams. Not quite as good as the real ones and not quite as violent, but still very entertaining.
Speaking from personal experience, this game is hands down one of the best sports games on the market. Its stand out improvements over last year's installment coupled with the amazing new features are what really drives this game into the spotlight. If you are a soccer fan or a fan of FIFA 09 then there is no reason whatsoever for you not to play this game. Definitely one of the must have games on this year's holiday wish list. You can get your hands on FIFA 10 right now if you live in the UK but if not then you have to wait until October 20th when it is released nationwide for the Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, PC, PSP, Nintendo DS and PS2.