The multiplayer mode is basic, with head-to-head wireless ad hoc support and an online mode that is exactly the same as what was offered in FIFA 10, which itself was stripped of the online leagues that were featured in the previous game. That said, online functionality goes above most portable sports games, with ranked play, lobbies that allow text chat, and leaderboards that track overall progress. The online mode is currently well-populated and is functionally robust, with few lag or connectivity problems, and you have the ability to avoid players who regularly quit matches early. There's also a squad update feature, allowing you to keep up to date on roster changes in both offline and online game modes.
Most of the player likenesses are pretty good.
There are some small tweaks to the gameplay in 2010 FIFA World Cup, but they're minimal. A new feature called "golden moments" rewards you for controlling the flow of the game, and there's a momentum meter at the bottom of the screen highlighting your progress. If you build up the necessary momentum, you can use the D pad to unleash a specific boost, choosing from general, keeper, offensive, and defensive. The general boost adds a small performance gain to all of your players, while the others are much more focused, offering a major boost for your keeper or top five defensive or offensive players. This feature adds a bit of excitement and unpredictability that feels right within the World Cup theme without drastically unbalancing the game, although seeing your opponent use the keeper boost in the dying minutes of a game can be annoying. More substantial are the new corner kicks and free kicks, which allow you more control over the spin and direction of the ball after you've taken the kick. Using an onscreen guide, you can direct the arc of the ball more accurately, which makes free kicks more effective but not unfairly so, because you still need a world-class player for pinpoint accuracy. Aside from these small additions, though, this is much the same game as FIFA 10.
There are many other small features that help flesh out the game, and lots of items are available if you delve into the menus. You earn points across most of the various game modes, with which you can buy new items in the store, such as balls, stadiums, and classic teams. You can also take time out and head to the practice arena to try out the new corners and free kicks. There are nice presentational touches, such as a spinning globe on the main menu that changes colour to show the teams you've beaten from around the world. The soundtrack contains 25 songs and mixes upbeat pop, such as Florence and the Machine, with traditional African music, such as Rocky Dawuni, and if you don't like the music, you can drop in your own MP3s from a Memory Stick. The game also provides facts in the loading screens, including World Cup trivia in exhibition matches and scouting reports before tournament games.
With an authentic World Cup experience layered over a great gameplay foundation, 2010 FIFA World Cup is well worth checking out if you're a fan of the competition. That said, it doesn't try to reinvent the wheel; most of the game modes are adapted from existing ones, while very minor changes to gameplay mean it plays a very similar game to FIFA 10. This lack of innovation results in a game that isn't essential, especially if you own FIFA 10, but if you must have an accompaniment to the World Cup, then you'll have a lot of fun with the official game.