Is it merely a stopgap until FIFA 11 arrives later this year or can this World Cup title stand on its own merits? The answer is definitely the latter. 2010 FIFA World Cup is a cracking footie sim, with intuitive gameplay, classy visuals and decent sound quality (with commentary from Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend).
While you can’t take control of your favourite club team, the game does offer a whopping 199 national teams to select from and guide to World Cup glory (although even the most experienced of gamers will have trouble leading the likes of Vanuatu to silverware). For most players in this country, however, the chance to right the wrong of the Henry handball and send the boys in green to South Africa is probably the most satisfying aspect of the entire experience.
That said, if the gameplay wasn’t up to scratch, that would be a pretty hollow victory, and it’s here that the World Cup sim really excels, with your team-mates responding pretty intuitively to the manner in which the game unfolds. Nowhere is this more enjoyable than in Captain Your Country mode, which does exactly what it says on the tin, putting you in the muddy boots of one player, whose ultimate aim is to lead their nation to glory. While this can be frustrating, as you don’t get to have as much influence on the game as you might like (and the temptation to run around like a 10-year-old after the ball is hard to resist), the reward of getting on the end of your winger’s cross and sending your fans into ecstasy is worth it. Plus, the sight of J. Walshe lining up beside R. Keane for the anthems almost brought a tear to this old gamer’s eye.
While there aren’t as many playing modes as regular FIFA fans will be used to, this is a hugely enjoyable game in its own right, with enough match facts to keep the most ardent armchair statistician content (from assists through to tackles completed, shots, save etc), and the graphics (from the stadia to player and manager likenesses) are superb.
The fact that we’re not going to be there next month for the world’s greatest football tournament is a real shame, and while it might not be much consolation, we can at least relive the glory days and the might-have-beens with this quality World Cup sim (and you can lay the Andy Reid controversy to bed, at least virtually).