It's been a while since I've played a FIFA title on the Wii. I tend to do a lot of my sports gaming on the HD systems, but EA's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa really surprised me by being accessible and fun. The title brings together every significant international team from the series and pits them against each other in a traditional World Cup setting, providing Wii owners with a number of control options that are easy to figure out and surprisingly accessible to all levels of players, whether you're a part-time Wii Sports fan or a hardcore Mario and Zelda player. Regardless of your skill level or familiarity with soccer games on the Wii, you'll find 2010 FIFA World Cup to be a pretty enjoyable experience, both on- and offline.
The game offers up a series of different modes for players to check out. Aside from the traditional World Cup mode, you've got an online multiplayer mode, Global Elimination, Hit the Pitch, World Tour and Zakumi Dream Team. The meatiest mode is Zakumi Dream Team, but we'll also take a quick look at the other game types. The modes provide a surprising amount of game time beyond the regular World Cup offerings, giving me the sense that the developers tried to pack this title with a lot of content.
Zakumi Dream Team mode is an interesting way of building up a dream team by poaching players from different teams after you've beaten them. When the mode starts, you pick your opening team from over 190 options, and you're placed in one-on-one matches against an AI-controlled team. If you beat that team, you'll be able to pick from a number of its players and add them to your own team. Along with that, there can be a series of optional objectives to hit in each match, such as making a certain number of corner kicks or achieving a certain number of goals.
You're ranked according to how you perform, so if you simply beat the team, you'll get a bronze medal, but if you manage to knock out the optional goals, you can gain a silver or gold award. If you get a silver, more of the opposing team is available for you to choose from, and achieving a gold award will let you have your pick of the team. Keep in mind that you can only choose one player from each team you face, so if a certain team has a number of players you'd like to snag, you'll need to make a difficult decision. Of course, if you find that your decision wasn't the best, you can replay that team in the future and choose another player. Overall, it's a fun play to mode, and you can take your dream team to the other modes, making it worth your while to check out the Zakumi Dream Team mode.
For the remainder of the other modes, Hit the Pitch is basically an exhibition mode, letting you choose your team and your opposing team for a single match game. Online mode is pretty self-explanatory, letting you do one-versus-one matches in either ranked or unranked modes, or two-versus-two in unranked. Online mode doesn't limit you to Friend Codes, so you can also play matches against random players. It also lists all of the players online, which I'll admit was a little on the low side each time I took my game online. With that in mind, I'm not sure I'd suggest picking up this game for the online mode alone, as I'm afraid it won't have much of a shelf life in the next six months. However, I never had any connection or lag problems when I did find people to play with, so at least it works as intended.
Global Elimination is the equivalent of an offline multiplayer mode that lets four people play together on one system. Each player picks a certain number of teams to play with and then challenges another player to a match. The halves of these games are shortened to two minutes, so the matches go by quickly and players aren't stuck waiting around for their turn to play. It's fun to an extent, but the short matches don't allow much time for interesting back-and-forth gameplay. Instead, it's more focused on who can kick a goal first and then try their hand at a succession of corner kicks for an easy goal.
World Tour mode lets you take on every single team in the game and keeps track of which teams you've defeated via an in-game map of the world. It's not much more than a beefed-up exhibition mode, but it's neat to see the different spots in the map get filled in as you advance past each team. If you were motivated to defeat each one, this mode would take you quite a bit of time to finish.
Last, but certainly not least, there's the actual World Cup mode, where you can pick a team from the 32 qualifying teams, or you can replace a qualifying team with a team of your choice. You have a number of options, including changing the roster, switching around the group to which your nation is assigned, and changing the initial teams you'll play against if you're in a particularly easy (or difficult) bracket. Once you get past the initial rounds in your selected bracket, you'll move on to the tournament proper. It doesn't take a great deal of time to get through this mode, but I was disappointed in the apparently lack of save options midway through the tournament, so I was forced to play through it all at once instead of playing a couple of games and coming back to it later.
The control setups are nice, and while I went with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk for the game, you can opt to play with only the Wiimote, so that the running is handled automatically, or you can play with the Classic Controller if you prefer a more traditional controller setup. I think the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination feels pretty balanced; I was able to do everything I needed within the game without fighting the controls. When moving downfield, you'll control your selected player with the Nunchuk and control passing with the A button. You can shake the Wiimote to shoot and tackle and hit the Z button to get a burst of speed. When there's a corner kick situation, or a lob pass, the ball with light up momentarily, and during this point, you're supposed to shake the controller before your opponent reacts so that you'll get the advantage. It's very simple to wrap your mind around, and I think the game would be pretty accessible to just about anyone who wants to try it. If you have a younger sibling, child, or someone who's not familiar with traditional video games, going with the Wiimote-only option is pretty cool, too; the AI does a solid job of getting you where you need to be and lines up shots correctly.
The player AI is pretty good, and while I'm sure the hardcore FIFA fans will prefer more of a challenge, the medium difficult level was certainly good enough for me. It seems that higher-ranked teams are more likely to get the drop on you when it comes to reacting during corner kicks, and this sometimes feels unfair because I wasn't sure how I could have shaken the controller any faster. That's a pretty minor complaint, though.
If you enjoy FIFA titles, there's a lot to love in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. If you're either new to soccer games or video games in general, the ease of gameplay in this particular game makes it an ideal sports title to try out. The Zakumi Dream Team mode is a neat addition to the series and certainly adds a lot of replay value, especially for the hardcore soccer fans. This is the most fun I've had with a soccer title in quite a while, so 2010 FIFA World Cup is definitely worth checking out.
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