Here's what I posted on the EAUK forums after I played in June
FIFA 10 - First Look
The moment all you rabid footie fans have been waiting for is finally here. The unveiling of FIFA 10, and a first look at the game from a HANDS-ON perspective. Everything you are about to read is truth at the moment. Please be aware that the game is roughly 60% complete, and changes can, and most likely, will occur. As for now, enjoy the following...
After listening to feedback from numerous forums, worldwide gamers, and websites, the FIFA development team has been hard at work producing the most realistic football simulation to date, FIFA 10. We are, “Building on the success of FIFA 09 by continuing to focus on what matters most to our fans.” - Dave Rutter
After getting some hands-on, I must say, Rutter is clearly telling the truth. Simply put, I got home from the FIFA 10 Event and now find it difficult to play FIFA 09 knowing what FIFA 10 has to offer. Back to actual gameplay in a few...
The development team’s Number 1 priority for FIFA 10 is gameplay. Although, FIFA 09 wasn’t all that shabby, the team has listened to feedback and incorporated many suggestions into FIFA 10's development. Seven main concerns are as follows:
Urgency - Adding over 50 new movement cycles and a new urgency AI logic that drives more responsive player positioning. This includes concepts such as marking and space threat to improve the authenticity of our players movement keeping them focused on the ball and moving at a speed appropriate to the context of the action.
Details include improved player orientation when collecting the ball and an ability to keep the game balanced and in motion.
Trapping – Improving player’s intelligence by giving them an awareness of where the easiest, most natural trapping position is. Increases responsiveness as players are able to get the ball on the ground and under control easier and faster.
Details include improved control over the ball, improved ball distribution, and a reduction in missed traps.
Positioning – Introducing more advanced defensive positioning concepts such as position priority which allows defenders to multi-task resulting in more intelligent covering logic. Positions are covered when dangerous spaces are left by an out of position teammate. In attack, players will analyze space more effectively, curve their runs in an attempt to stay onside, create passing lanes and drive for more variety in attacking options overall.
Details include more intelligent (ie curved) player runs when both attacking and defending. Attackers make smarter runs to create space and defenders now take the smartest (fastest) route to defend an oncoming attack.
Passing – Improving the analysis of space and the threat of putting the ball in that space. This leads to an improvement in through ball passes that will give the receiver more options and allow him more time to outrun his defensive marker.
Details include fluidity when both making and receiving a pass. Utilizing space more efficiently makes the game play more smoothly.
Shooting – Refining our context sensitive shooting system using a tool that allows us to recreate in-game situations and ensure that the different error factors have the correct effects on the ball trajectory, thus creating varied, authentic, logical shots.
Details include real world physics. Tweaking and tuning Reynold’s and Magnus values allows FIFA 10 to achieve the best and truest ball physics ever. Also fixed is the problematic and frustrating “hitting of the woodwork too often”.
Defending – Improvements to slide tackle targeting (ie giving more reach to good players and trying to avoid tackling through the dribbler), press marking, and adding better effort clearance logic (ie sliding to block crosses, overhead kick clearances) will give the defender more options. Counterpointed by a less forgiving standing tackle will make defending a more tactical skill in FIFA 10.
Details include improvements to slide tackling, press marking and effort clearances. Holding down the standing tackle button will no longer result in an instant steal. Defense is more tactical than simply pressing and holding tackle.
Goalkeeping – A myriad of improvements and refinements including: Improving the GK’s perception of where he can intercept a loose ball, the urgency at which he should do so and his movement style. This results in a more responsive and more powerful rushing system. New animation warping technology will allow us to control the GK’s save momentum and ensure that his saves are realistic to create variety in scoring as his positioning and momentum will play a greater factor in his range of saving.
Details include a major goalkeeper overhaul. Overall keeper intelligence has improved. Gone are the half-line kick-off goals. The keeper now has the abilities to get down low on low, hard shots, and to tip or punch chipped shots. He also has the ability to dive, get up and still react to another shot on goal. Overall keeper movement is much more fluid.
In addition to these improvements, the development team has responded to feedback from over 250 million games played. Sifting through suggestions made directly by FIFA gamers, improvements have also been made in the following areas:
Animation – Improvements have been made in sprinting and movement animations.
Rules – Improvements have been made in player runs to alleviate the off-side’s epidemic, and the advantage rule has been tweaked to allow play to continue when necessary.
Immersion – Creating a total football experience. Continuous play now including quick free kicks. A Practice Arena to hone your skills. Realism like you have never seen on the pitch…
Although refining fundamentals is a KEY component of the development team’s priorities, innovation is something that is never overlooked. Improving a franchise is often more difficult than establishing a franchise, and FIFA is ever-improving. Check out these 3 new innovative additions:
360 degree dribbling – The first-ever TRUE 360 degree dribbling system in a football game that gives you finer control in dribbling and allows you to find spaces between defenders that previously did not exist.
Skilled Dribbling – Animation warping technology now gives skilled dribblers the ability to face the defender and use the highly responsive lateral dribbling to skip past the defender.
Freedom in Physical Play – Wider dribble touches and new collision sharing allows for a varied, less predictable and extended fight for possession between the dribbler and the defender.
Out of all the aforementioned improvements, additions, tweaks and tunes, I was most impressed and excited about the development to the Manager Mode. It’s been a bit repetitive in the past, and I was looking forward to hearing what the team had to say. To make Manager Mode more authentic, the team has added 50 or so improvements. They are broken down into 4 major categories:
Match Realism – 1) Based on team strengths and weaknesses, 2) Fidelity down to players, strengths of lines, formations, and 3) Authentic Team Standings based in minute to minute game calculations.
Authentic Transfers – 1) Logic-based on multiple decision points (ie not just, “Not enough $$$”), Finance, prestige, career prospects and other players play a role, and 3) Competiton from AI clubs.
Believable Player Development – 1) Players’ growth curves based on multiple factors, 2) Playing environment affects growth, and 3) Growth against potential affects player demands
Surrounded by Football World – 1) AI rotates formations/squads based on match importance, 2) Real-time transfers week by week 3) Summaries and highlights of transfer events promote bidding wars.
Enough of the technical jargon. Hands-on. That’s what you all want, right? Ok. Here goes…
Over the 2 days of hands-on play at EAC, I played as much as I possibly could. Every chance I had I played. I played while eating. I played while drinking. I even thought about playing while I used the washroom. I played as much FIFA 10 as I could so that I could offer a truly honest impression of how it played. When Rutter said we are, “Building on the success of FIFA 09 by continuing to focus on what matters most to our fans…”, I feel as though he really truly meant what he said. I can see the FIFA 09 foundation shining through, but the game as a whole feels differently. At only 60% completed bugs were present, and things were broken, but the game felt right. I know the direction they want to go, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Manager Mode is a huge part of my FIFA gaming life, so I’ll start off with that. Although we did not get to see Manager Mode in action, we were shown a pretty decent overview. The team has added about 50 or so key improvements to the existing MM to stave off repetition and change the overall feel of MM. For once, it would nice to do more. Interact with your players, hear about what other clubs are doing, and have a sense that you are managing a club, not just playing games over and over until you win every cup and max out all your players top 99. For FIFA 10, a few factors play a role in growth: Mental, physical and skill level. As a player get older, his mental knowledge of the game increases, his skills stay roughly static, but his physical attributes decrease. Combining all 3 factors makes for more realistic growth, and hopefully every player cannot achieve a 99 after only 2 seasons. I’m very anxious to test out the new MM…
Game speed is something that I noticed right away. It has definitely been slowed down a bit. I’d say it’s safe to say that it’s somewhere between FIFA 08 and FIFA 09. It’s not as slow as FIFA 08 but it’s not nearly as fast as FIFA 09. Players now have more time on the ball and the buttons still seem very responsive. Midfielders now have a purpose in the game and that is to move the ball around, build up attack and also defend in case of a bad pass or interception! I was really digging the speed and anyone who wanted a slower FIFA 09 without sacrificing responsiveness will be happy.
Physicality is stressed as an integral part of the game. No longer is it simply defender or attacker wins, but there exists a longer fight for the ball and jostling for position is essential. Due to the increased physicality physics there will be many animations for jostling. In the air battles are rougher and players will be seen getting knocked over. Expect to see battles.
Passing looked off to me, and we were assured that it wasn’t even close to being finished. It seemed as though passes were put a bit too far in front of the receiving player, but again, passing was only about 60% complete.
Shooting was also not fine-tuned. The development team was hard at work trying to get the physic’s values to where they needed to be and wanted our feedback to help. I feel as though shooting in 09 was a tad too easy, and I knew when I was going to score before I even struck the ball. That’s fine and dandy, but it’s highly repetitive. More variation is key, and when do you ever see 15 shots ALL on goal in real football?
Defending was a lot of fun. It seems as though it’s much more manual this year vs last year. Gone was the hold down tackle until you stole the ball, and I really liked the change. Defense was much too easy in FIFA 09, and I prefer a challenge of a more manual approach. Looks good so far.
Goalkeeping was by far the most tweaked characteristic. At first, I couldn’t get by the damn keeper to save my life. He made smarter reads on angles, tipped my chipped shots and rushed me if I got too close. His positioning was better, and he made extra dives when out of reach of a ball. He was a beast…
I’ll end with gameplay, as I saw some things that were really nice. Quick free kicks and warnings before cards have been incorporated directly into gameplay. When I first saw my opponent reach his hand down to touch the ball during gameplay, I almost fell out of my chair, but he was really just setting up a quick free kick! Unreal! My team was out of position, and I had to scramble to get back. No more cutscene needed to see the ref run up to a player for a warning/carding. I got tackled, and the ref ran right up to the player and showed a yellow. That was really satisfying, haha. Like I mentioned previously, the gamespeed was slowed down, and I felt like I had a lot more time on the ball. Players made smarter runs, the 360 dribbling dope as %&#@, and I really can’t wait to get more hands-on for that alone. I did some skills and they were effective, but I was much more interested in core gameplay, So far, it’s looking like FIFA 10 is going to crush FIFA 09. But in a good way....