‘Winning Eleven’ no more: ‘FIFA 10’ takes the football crown

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‘Winning Eleven’ no more: ‘FIFA 10’ takes the football crown

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There was a time when the FIFA series of soccer video games failed to live up to the experience offered by rival Konami’s Winning Eleven franchise, which was before the PlayStation 3 offered die-hard soccer fans realistic game play. We gamers once scoffed at the FIFA series, which offered decent graphics but couldn’t deliver realistic game play - at least not to the extent of Winning Eleven, which Konami now calls Pro Evolution Soccer in Europe and the United States.

But that has changed since “Winning Eleven 8” was released in 2007. Gradually, FIFA shed its shallow arcade feel, beginning to capture the nuances of the pitch. Today, the FIFA franchise has surpassed Winning Eleven in virtually every department - a difficult thing for a longtime Winning Eleven fan like me to admit.

With “FIFA 10,” the series has started setting the standard in its genre.

For starters, FIFA looks much more realistic in terms of player information. That is partly because EA Sports has taken the trouble to acquire official licenses from most every significant soccer league in the world, something Konami has failed to do.

Attention to little details is another area in which FIFA excels. For instance, the crowd in the background is much more diverse looking, adding to the overall experience. Superb music and sound effects, plus fluid running commentary, will help gamers forget they’re looking at a computer simulation. In short, the presentation of FIFA 10 is just unmatched.

Winning Eleven was never strong in the presentation department, but gamers forgave those shortcomings because the gameplay was so excellent. But that formula isn’t working on the PS3 anymore. Konami’s utter failure to use the system’s strong graphics engine to its full potential has become so difficult to ignore that it’s almost an insult to the player. Meanwhile, the FIFA developers have worked hard to build thrilling gameplay to match their series’ strong graphics.

Player movement is very smooth thanks to incredibly fluid 360-degree control, while the AI is no pushover either. Winning a game at the easiest level is a piece of cake, but anything beyond that requires a true understanding of strategy, and some passing and hard work on the gamer’s side. If you don’t move your players to create space and passing lanes, the chances of winning a match are slim, because defenders will be positioned to foil your play.

All this adds up to make FIFA 10 the best soccer game on the market. Winning Eleven may have ruled my heart back in the day, but I’m willing to leave behind old loyalties to play this varied, challenging and fun newcomer.

FIFA 10

Developer: EA

Genre: Sports

Platform: PC, PS2, PS3(reviewed), Wii, Xbox 360

Rating: 9 out of 10


By Brian Lee [africanu@joongang.co.kr]
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