Last week, Nintendo Life headed over to EA's UK headquarters for a kick-about with their impending blockbuster 2010 FIFA World Cup. With the world's biggest sporting tournament only a few months away, gamers have been keen to see how they can grab a slice of World Cup glory from their living rooms, and from what we've seen, they might have something special to look forward to.
The game promises to build on the gameplay progress made in FIFA 10, and with some intriguing game-modes on offer and the promise of competing for a place on online leaderboards, 2010 FIFA World Cup might just turn out to be more than just another FIFA game to add to the pile.
Playing the game it's clear that the Wii version is aimed very squarely at community gaming, and gathering round the sofa with the family for a quick blast. There are a wide range of control schemes to cater for people who are new to the genre, with the simplest being with just the Remote. The game handles player movement in this control scheme, whilst you assume responsibility for passing the ball and shaking the Remote on cue to take shots at goal and handle corners. It's incredibly basic, but it is intuitive, and lends the game a real arcade feel – less about complexity and simulation and more about simple, fast-paced action. It's also a sure-fire way of getting everyone in your family involved in the game.
The game will feature all 32 teams from the World Cup Tournament, and a downloadable patch released prior to the tournament's start will ensure that the in-game team rosters are accurate when things actually kick-off in South Africa this summer. EA's vast database of real-life player skills and attributes will all come into play, and will increase the game's tactical element - for example, if your team has a lot of low-stamina players, then be prepared to make substitutions as the game draws to a close.
The front-end menus are large and colourful, easily navigated with the Wii Remote pointer, and presentation-wise the game has a bright, South African-themed party vibe in keeping with the World Cup spirit. Graphically we have to say the game doesn't exactly look great, (as you can see from these screenshots) and the version we played certainly didn't seem to be stretching the Wii to its limit. The framerate, however, was consistent.
We had a quick chat with Tristan Jackson, producer of the Wii version of the game. Read on to learn more about the control scheme, the game modes that are exclusive to the Wii version, and how the game will work online.
Nintendo Life: Hi Tristan. Tell us a little more about the game's simplest control scheme: using only the Wii Remote
Tristan Jackson: When you're just using the Wii Remote, you're responsible just for passing, shooting and slide tackling. You can either use point-and-pass, where you point at the pitch where you want to pass the ball to, or you can turn this off, so you're just timing your button presses to pass the ball where you want it to go. We have a couple of very approachable control schemes, and using just the Wii Remote is probably the most simple - it does the running for you. A shake of the Wii Remote and you'll take a shot at goal, from wherever you are.
Once you're more comfortable you can add in the nunchuck, so that you're responsible for running too. It's a good way to grow from one control scheme to the next.
The game also supports the Classic Controller, will it support the upcoming Classic Controller Pro as well?
Yes, that's supported too. There are some slight differences in the control where you'll flick the right analogue stick at key moments where with other control schemes you'd have to shake, but we were very keen that you weren't losing anything playing with the different control schemes.
What will gamers who buy the Wii version of the game get that other platforms won't?
The Wii version features Zakumi's Dream Team, a play mode in which you'll face off against all 32 qualifying World Cup teams, and when you beat each team, you'll be able to choose a player from that team to add to yours. We want you to build the best team that you can, and the individual player rosters are broken down into three tiers, so the better you perform in a match, the higher class of player you'll be able to poach from the team you just defeated. You can save your dream team to your Wii Remote, so that when you play on a friend's console, you can play with the team you've built up playing in single player. You can also play online with that team.
The other Wii-exclusive mode is Global Elimination. It's a minimum of two players, multiplayer elimination game. Each player can choose up to four teams each depending on the length of the tournament you want to have, and you go around the room challenging other players to matches, with the winner staying on and the loser losing their team from the tournament. It's a last-man standing situation, and you can choose who in the room you want to play, and which of their teams you want to play against. You'll start to see allegiances forming on the couch – if my brother is always beating me I can convince my friends to gang up on him and knock him out of the competition.
Lastly, how will online gaming work? Is there any downloadable content planned?
Currently the only downloadable content planned will be the official World Cup roster, which will be available for download after the game is released and once the final rosters for the tournament are announced. As for playing online, you can play ranked or unranked matches online, and play with friends in the same room against online opponents in co-op mode. Zakumi's Dream Team online is going to be really interesting, to see how people play with their dream teams and who's best. Online is something we really wanted to push. We're hoping to see lots of people trying online for the first time.
..and there you have it. We were pleasantly surprised with what we saw of 2010 FIFA World Cup – it might not be much of a looker, but solid gameplay coupled with a wealth of exclusive game modes and a promising online component indicate a game that's been built for the Wii from the ground up, and not a dodgy port. Here's hoping that when it's released on April 27 it proves to be more than just the latest FIFA.