By Alfred Siew, a freelance writer
|» Price: $50.90 (PC), $64.90 (Xbox 360), $71.90 (PS3), $60.90 (Wii)
» Genre: Sports simulation
» Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
» Rating: 8/10
FIFA 10 is the most realistic football game I have played so far.
Now in its 17th iteration (the first Fifa game was in 1993), the yearly release comes with the most impressive ball physics and realism you will find in such a game.
The stadiums may be the same, the commentary from Martin Tyler and Andy Gray just a little less repetitive and the graphics only marginally better.
But the star is the gameplay, which truly brings all the uncertainty of a real match.
The ball can get stuck under the feet of defenders, as they desperately try to clear their lines. It hits a teammate when you try to get a shot off.
The uncertainty is also there when you are off the ball. You have to closely track an opponent on the ball and only get in your tackle at the right moment to nip the ball off.
Mis-time the tackle and you give away a foul. Tackle from behind as you would with previous Fifa games and you will likely get a warning from the referee. This forces you to focus a lot more on every tackle you make.
At the same time, players' moves are much smoother, with true freedom of movement.
Instead of an invisible grid that restricts how you twist or turn, you can now do so freely in 360 degrees.
This means you can throw off a defender more easily, thread a pass through his legs or take him on for pace if there is space to be exploited.
At the same time, there is a lot less of the circus stuff, like juggling the ball past three or four world-class defenders. Instead, you have to turn fast and look out for teammates making a run into space.
Players - especially star players - are also realistically portrayed not just in their looks, but also in their moves.
Arsenal hitman Robin van Persie, for example, moves so smoothly past defenders with his body feints and quick feet that you are reminded of the real player himself.
There are also some improvements over Fifa 09 that I have to mention. The most important: when you take a goal shot in Fifa 10, the ball is less likely to balloon over, unless you keep the power button depressed for way too long.
But what I still do not like is how often your shots hit the post.
Still, on the whole, the in-match gameplay in Fifa 10 is obvious.
For multiplayer buffs, Fifa 10 has online challenges that are great, but be prepared. You should have a few wins under your belt before attempting to take on real, human opponents.
Pace does not count for much unless you are rampaging down the flanks against a central defender who is slow.
Fifa 10 takes a bit of getting used to, especially when it comes to passing. No longer can you zing a pass straight to a player - the computer opponent keeps track quite well of your players, so they will cut off any poor passes.
Having said that, the play is more dynamic now, so your players do move around a lot more to give options for a pass.
Make sure you string a few passes across the pitch, drawing the defenders out before making that killer pass to open up for a scoring chance.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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