FIFA has become the dominant football series on the PlayStation Portable, thanks in part to the release of FIFA 10 last year. Now, less than six months later, 2010 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and while it adds little in the way of meaningful improvements to its predecessor, it does a good job of re-creating the excitement of the competition. Don't expect to see anything here that you haven't before--all the game modes are well-trodden FIFA staples with a World Cup twist, while the gameplay tweaks are minimal. 2010 FIFA World Cup is ultimately a good game that offers an authentic World Cup experience, but perhaps one only for diehard fans of the tournament.
Reflecting the carnival atmosphere of the competition, 2010 FIFA World Cup is more colourful and less serious than FIFA 10.
2010 FIFA World Cup focuses completely on the international competition, meaning you can play only as the 199 national teams that entered qualification. On the most basic level, you can set up single matches between any sides, playing either as the entire team or as a single player. If you want a longer challenge, you can take your favourite team through qualifying and to the tournament itself, with the aim of lifting the coveted trophy. The World Cup carnival atmosphere is captured well--menus are colourfully presented, the in-game visuals are vibrant, and the soundtrack features plenty of South African-inspired music. You can also tweak any aspect of the groups if you want to live out an alternative tournament or change history if your favourite real-life team never made it through to the finals.
The game features World Cup takes on standard FIFA game modes. Story of Qualifying is similar to the old Challenge mode, where you relive famous scenarios from the qualifying stages of the competition and try to meet objectives. These include tasks such as winning a match in the final minutes or ending a team's unbeaten run, and if you satisfy the criteria, you earn points to unlock more matches. More points are available for meeting minor criteria, such as "get no cards" or "win before penalties." You join many matches at the 80-minute mark, so things stay fresh, and you're forced to play with teams that you might not choose to play with otherwise. The only downer is the slightly obtrusive sponsorship from Coke Zero, which sees the corporate logo splashed liberally through the mode's menus.
Captain Your Country is essentially FIFA 10's Be a Pro mode with a national twist. You take control of just one player--either an existing pro or a character you create yourself. You can upgrade his physical attributes by spending experience points on his skills, ideally building up his abilities according to position, such as marking and tackling for a defender, or crossing and finishing for an attacker. From there, you play in a squad of AI-controlled teammates, and it's your job to help the team make it through World Cup qualifying while also earning more points to spend on your player to continue his progression. This game mode can be quite dull because a lot of time is spent simply waiting for the ball, while the default down-the-pitch camera angle makes it difficult to follow the action on a small screen. While it's ultimately a lot weaker than the team-based game modes, Captain Your Country is worth playing in short bursts, and is certainly a different way to experience the World Cup itself.