There's been a lot of talk on internet fan forums about FIFA 10's presentation and control system, specifically that it doesn't offer the degree of control required for a top drawer footy game, especially next to a Certain Other Footy Game. It's caused a bit of moaning and griping about EA Sports putting casual gaming at the forefront of its Wii agenda.
Certainly next to some of the other versions of the game, FIFA 10 on the Wii doesn't quite have the same painstaking attention to match day detail, and the big game gloss is replaced by comic strip fun throughout. Bleedin' EA Sports and its bleedin' lowest common denominator policy, you might think, but you'd be wrong.
Besides, how daft would it be to try and make, essentially, exactly the same experience as a Certain Other Footy Game developer? Instead, it's aiming for something a little different, while trying to provide a deeper, more rounded experience - despite what those lighthearted graphics might suggest.
The caricatured style of the game actually looks great. It's arcadey in feel and mirrors the code buzzing away beneath it. From the moment you boot up the game, you're bombarded with high-octane images of Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and friends looking square-jawed and heroic, booting footballs as though they want to kill them. As you can see, our pampered heroes are represented with rather sharp edges here. There's no denying that the graphical style here won't be to everyone's taste, but in conveying FIFA 10's never-stand-still, end-to-end philosophy, it's just right. Anyway, when the game's racing along at the speed of sound, it's hard to really pick fault.
Man On!'Over the top' is the creed that EA Sports has followed with FIFA 10. While options at the outset look pretty slim (you've instant, online, tournament, training and manager modes), it's a mantra that manifests itself in a few ways - some good, some bad.
The game's a no nonsense thrillfest, yet it trips over its own bootlaces at key moments, making spontaneity as fractured as the idea of saving for a rainy day in Madrid. So while you slip together a sequence of sublime passes which sees you glide to your opponent's box in the blink of an eye, a sidestep might see a microsecond's pause as the appropriate animation kicks in. Time enough for your mate, if you're playing online or in your living room, to snuff out a promising opening.
If that's frustrating, the shooting itself lightens the mood because, frankly, it's hilariously exaggerated. No angle is too obscure, though with distance the element of surprise lessens, and a nice vapour trail adds to the impact. Never mind the controls or the visuals, the key hook for the Wii version is the conspicuous Momentum bar at the bottom of the screen. As you force the play by gaining territory and possession the attributes of your team will be sharpened. Strikers hit the ball harder and cleaner, passes outside the area ghost through defenders, and if the 'keeper manages to make a save, he'll only parry it. As you send a rocket goalwards, the action goes slo-mo to heighten the intensity, but it's really just for show.
Hit A Howitzer
Although shooting is thunderous, it jars with the action around the rest of the pitch. As soon as you get within range it's as if you enter an auto-aim mode - you will rarely shoot wide or high. Passing and tackling, meanwhile, is much more finite. You decide weight and direction of passes (annoying at first when you hit one to John Terry when you intended to lay one into the path of Deco); tackling only comes off with dedicated tracking and timing. So to score goals as easily as this flies in the face of the effort required elsewhere. Adding to the fluctuating football are Booster Cards, which are earned upon meeting certain challenges set before matches, like conceding no more than six shots on your goal or grabbing a combination of five goals and assists. You then get to choose a pair of random cards which bestow extra powers on your team in the next match, like better shooting, reduced fatigue and slicker passing. As for the controls being an issue, if you don't like the Remote/Nunchuk combo, you can switch to the Classic Controller with its own variants - and that's almost identical to a Certain Other Footy Game's control scheme. Whinges about this being 'too casual' or 'not like PES' are a waste of breath. This is more like Virtua Striker with heavy emphasis on heavy bombardment and less on hard fought stalemates.