FIFA used to be the console equivalent of a 0-0 draw, but the past few years have seen it emerge again as the dominant football game on the market. Last year's FIFA 10 was an enjoyable arcade-style take on the sport, and 2010 FIFA World Cup is a very similar game but featuring all the teams, arenas and pageantry of the upcoming tournament.
If you've been away from FIFA for a few years, you might be surprised to see the players have taken on a more gangly appearance, leaning away from the increasing realism of its HD versions and into a slightly caricatured graphical style. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and some of the player likenesses are vague at best, but the animation is fluid and everything's clear and brightly coloured. In fact, one of the game's strongest points is its lively presentation, with nice touches like a crowd rising at the bottom of the screen in anticipation of a goal and plenty bold colour splashes.
Using the Remote and Nunchuk or Classic Controller gives you plenty of precision over your players, although the pointer mode is not recommended as it doesn't compare to the finesse and striking visual ingenuity of Pro Evolution Soccer's system. Shooting by shaking the Remote also presents problems: if you're using pointer mode it obviously interferes with your play, and there's no control over your shots' power, making the most crucial element of the game feel overly simplistic and unsatisfying.
Other important aspects are let down by motion controls too. Each set piece uses the Strike It system, a combination of one button press and a Remote shake that removes any sort of precision or strategy whether you're attacking or defending. Although it makes free kicks undeniably exciting, there's no sense of skill involved, and it turns corner kicks into shallow training ground-style exercises. Removing the need to specify a direction or even style of delivery is obviously a means to speed up the game, but it makes setpieces feel like a chore rather than an opportunity.
That said, there's an undeniable energy about the game that makes it easier to forgive the lack of variety in dead ball situations. Building your momentum meter with quick passes and unleashing a powerful shot is satisfying, and you'll score spectacular goals like they're going out of fashion. The commentary is engaging and varied and there are enough Wii-specific touches – such as cheering with the Remote and Nunchuk to play sounds through the Remote speaker – to put a forgiving smile on your face. It may not be a game of many layers, but the surface has plenty of zip about it.
EA has done well with the Wii's online capabilities in the past, and 2010 FIFA World Cup continues this tradition with smooth, lag-free matches and good implementation. Although there's no sign of the Captain Your Country mode from its HD cousins, and the ability to relive moments from the tournament itself will not be available on Wii, being able to take a friend with you for some two-on-two play is great fun. As with the rest of the title, the emphasis is on quick-fire fun and the online play delivers.
If you're not online, the single player modes are decent too. It's worth mentioning not to play the tournament on anything below medium difficulty, as easy mode is far too easy for most players, but the most challenge is found in Zakumi's Dream Team. An odd mix of challenge-led matches and manager mode, if you win a match you can poach a player from the opposition to join your squad, with the idea being to amass the ultimate team and conquer the world (of football, at least.) The range and number of challenges help to keep this mode interesting, particularly when teamed up with the game's awards that offer unlockable content for meeting certain goals.
It's safe to say if you're after an accurate and strategic football simulation, you're not going to find it in 2010 FIFA World Cup. Setpieces are simplistic and the instant appeal of the arcade style wears off after a while, but there's still enough fun here – particularly in multiplayer – to make this a decent game for fans wanting to get involved in the tournament at home.