EA Sports: 2010 FIFA World Cup game
Just when you think that the video game community has seen the best that is on offer, it gets even better. FIFA 10 was a masterpiece of innovation with the new parts not discolouring an already exceptional template, but now FIFA World Cup 2010 raises the bar even higher.
Making a list of things that you would want from a World Cup game, it isn't hard to see why this game ticks all the boxes. Firstly, penalties. For a new World Cup game, they need a makeover to ensure that the frustration (or joy) of taking them remains as realistic as possible.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that penalty taking in the EA Sports' latest is the best I've ever seen. You have the option of a stutter-step, a delicate and cheeky chip down the middle and there is even a 'composure' bar to raise, or lower, your player's chance of slotting it home. An option from the main menu to just play penalties - without the annoyance of having to play 120 mins of football first - is a nice touch too.
Then comes another innovation that makes this World Cup game different to anything else: a scenario mode whereby you get to play matches from the qualifying campaigns and bid to recreate (or re-write) the real outcome. For example, Denmark are 2-1 down against Portugal with just 5 minutes left, can you pull off a stunning 3-2 win as the Danes themselves did back in September 2008? And you can do this for every single Federation, with over 50 different scenarios.
In the actual gameplay, there isn't too much that is different. The attention to detail is of a similar level to that seen in FIFA 10 - that is to say (complete with the FIFA licence) very impressive - but the entire style of the presentation has been given an African makeover.
From the opening screens to the music and crowd scenes (complete with vuvuzelas), the vibrant and frenzied atmosphere we can expect to see in South Africa is captured brilliantly. In the commentary box, Andy Townsend and Clive Tyldesley provide the information to the masses and the likenesses of the players and coaches are perfect.
On the pitch, goals have a tendency to be more spectacular, which is good, and headers and volleys seem to be more accurate as well. The pitch itself has been given a once-over with the details and texture of the grass made more realistic for gamers who will notice the benefits of watching on HD TVs, while everything just feels that bit more polished from the previous version.
Of course, some things never change. For 'Captain Your Country' mode, read 'Be A Pro', the online mode is as good as ever and, of course, there are the ever-reliable news sources that continue to provide the gamer with the most up-to-date stories from the real world of football.
Ultimately, FIFA 10 was so good that nothing was really needed to change in the new version. What was needed was an update to ensure that gamers would have a reason to buy the World Cup game and gain enjoyment from some of the impressive new features that they brought to the table. They succeeded.