Those more interesting developments include the new Virtual Pro feature. This is, in essence, Be A Pro (which still exists), but released beyond the confines of Be A Pro: Seasons and given far more depth. Your Pro, who can also have your own likeness through a neat picture Game Face upload system on FIFA 10’s website, can feature in any match in any part of the game, including online. And, though you assign your player to a club when you create him, you can take him to whichever club you’re playing with in each game mode.
EA has also done away with the old collect and distribute points approach to player development, introducing Accomplishments instead. Accomplishments comprise numerous small deeds, such as scoring with your weak foot, scoring in consecutive games or keeping clean sheets, each of which have a reward for the corresponding skill. Accomplishments are split into categories in the same manner as player stats and the variety is quite impressive.
Initially I wondered whether this system would develop attributes fast enough, but in fact it’s perfectly balanced. It’s particularly effective because a player’s physical development is governed first by the physical attributes of your player – a tall player will be slower and better at jumping, a small one faster and more skilful – but also on how many games you’ve played and the number of man of the match awards. As such, unlike before, you can’t just pour points into the acceleration and sprint speed attributes for an easy advantage. It forces you to seriously develop your player and also encourages experimentation, since many of the accomplishments can be tricky and some are even secret.
This new system helps enhance the Be A Pro: Seasons mode, as well, which despite being very fun still feels as though it has potential to be unlocked. Hopefully in FIFA 11 it will receive a little more attention.
Instead it’s the Manager Mode that has seen most of the development. EA has improved the transfer system, making it more realistic and essentially more difficult, while also eliminating some of the more ridiculous transfers that used to occur. Player fatigue is also better managed, while an Assistant Manager mode can take over the intricacies if you just want to get on and play. It’s still no Football Manager, it shouldn’t be anyway, but if you’re intent on taking your team from the depths of the league to the Premiership, the Manager Mode does the job well.
This improved Manager Mode is joined by the well tested and unchanged online modes and Live Season (no longer sponsored by Adidas) to complete a truly daunting package. There are still plenty of little things that could be improved, but FIFA 10 sets a standard as peerless as PS2-era PES, making it comfortably the best FIFA ever and more than likely the best football game ever made, too.
FIFA 09 already had a very robust game engine and a great selection of game modes and FIFA 10 builds very well on its success. 360-dribbling is the standout new feature, but Virtual Pro runs it very close and the improved Manager Mode is no less welcome. Konami has some work to do, because FIFA just got even better.