Video Game Review: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa [PSP, 2010]

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa [PSP, 2010]

2010 FIFA World Cup
System: PSP
Developer: HB Studios
Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: April 27, 2010

Last year’s World Cup tournament is what finally made me a full-fledged soccer fan. Team USA’s improbable draw with England, England’s subsequent collapse, Landon Donovan’s unbelievable goal… I got sucked into World Cup hysteria. Capitalizing on the event, EA Sports released a special FIFA edition specifically for the tournament. Craving some portable soccer action, I picked up the game for the PSP.

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa provides 199 of the 204 national teams that entered qualification, and it offers several different modes of play. Beyond the standard “pick a team and play a single game” option, there are modes to play through the full World Cup tournament (including the various qualifiers), a “Captain Your Country” feature, and a “Story of Qualifying” option.

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa [PSP, 2010]

Captain Your Country is intriguing, as it is basically a spin off of the “Be a Pro” modes that are all the rage in sports games these days. In this, you create a low-level player who is promptly placed on their national team. Your goal is to build up this player to greatness while leading his country to victory.

My personal favorite is Story of Qualifying, which allows you to relive a lot of great moments inspired by the road to the World Cup. There are some truly memorable scenarios presented here, such as the Luxembourg/Switzerland encounter where Luxembourg shocked the world by winning 2-1. In this particular example, you play as Luxembourg in the 76th minute with the match tied 1-1. You get points for winning the match, conceding no more goals and/or by winning by two goals. There are dozens of scenarios like these from all over the world, and it’s a lot of fun trying to get maximum points in each one.

2010 FIFA World Cup [PSP, 2010]

The core gameplay is easy to pick up and play, as the controls are standard for the FIFA series. Players move around effortlessly, and each team has their own unique style which comes across surprisingly well on the pitch. I did have some occasional problems with manually switching the players, and sometimes the AI determined I wanted to pass to a different player than I intended, but for the most part the on-the-field experience is more than satisfactory.

EA also succeeded in bringing the South African experience into video game form. The infamous vuvuzelas are ever-present (though they can be removed via the in-game options), and the soundtrack is a pretty diverse collection of music from all over the world. Clyde Tyldesley and Andy Townsend are competent on commentary, although they do tend to repeat themselves during the actual tournament. The country’s stadiums are brought to life, and a helpful map shows all of their locations. The graphics are typical PSP fare. It can be hard to see some of the players on the top half of the screen, but for the most part the game looks good enough.

As far as portable soccer games go, I can’t really compare this to anything else. However, I have greatly enjoyed 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa since it does an admirable job of maintaining the crazy atmosphere while also providing a surprising amount of depth in terms of gameplay. While there are occasional quibbles with the control, these are not major disturbances and they do not disrupt what is an otherwise fun experience. For those looking to relive last year’s memorable Cup, this is a great gaming option.

8/10

Quick & Dirty #7: Kaboom, Kill the Irishman, Scribblenauts and more

It’s time for another roundup of what I have seen/played lately.

MOVIES

Kaboom [2011, Araki]
Kaboom [2011, Araki]
One of the worst movies I have seen in a while. With a convoluted sci-fi plot as its base, Kaboom meanders all over the place by including random and unnecessary casual sex encounters. Actually, these sex scenes are all the movie has going for it in terms of entertainment. The rest of the movie is a scrambled mess with weak dialogue and wasted acting talent. Araki tries too hard to be David Lynch here and ultimately comes across as a poor imitation. 3/10

Kill the Irishman [2011, Hensleigh]
Kill the Irishman [2011, Hensleigh]
Crime drama about the life of Danny Greene, an Irish-American mobster who was both directly and indirectly involved with a ton of car bombings in 1970s Cleveland. Ray Stevenson delivers a solid performance as Greene, and there are some solid supporting roles from Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer as well (though it must be stated that they aren’t on screen nearly as much as the trailer and promo material would suggest). The movie doesn’t try anything new and it could have used much better development for certain characters, but it’s still a decent enough gangster movie. 6/10

Me and You and Everyone We Know [2005, July]
Me and You and Everyone We Know [2005, July]
I dug this quirky indie dramedy, but not quite as much as Roger Ebert, who named this as one of the top ten movies of the last decade. There is a lot to like about this movie, including John Hawkes and some great performances from the child actors. While some of the sequences fell flat, there were some genuinely hilarious moments such as the online interactions between two children and an anonymous stranger. I felt like the Miranda July tried too hard with some of the proceedings, but I still liked the movie’s eccentricities. 7/10

VIDEO GAMES

2010 FIFA World Cup [PSP, 2010]
2010 FIFA World Cup [PSP, 2010]
I got sucked back into World Cup fever after the USA Women’s team’s excellent run this year, and ended up picking this game back up. It brought back a lot of memories, and I have had a blast guiding the men’s Team USA through the tournament. I am looking forward to trying out the “Captain Your Country” mode in which you create your own player and lead them to greatness. The game’s got a pretty diverse soundtrack, and the vuvuzelas add to the atmosphere (for better or for worse). I am digging it, as it is pretty good as far as portable sports games go.

Scribblenauts [DS, 2009]
Scribblenauts [DS, 2009]
This little game intrigued me when I first heard about it back in 2009, but I just now got my hands on it. The concept is pretty cool, no doubt, since it allows you to type in any word you can think of to solve puzzles. I just started playing and have only completed a handful of the first level’s puzzles, but I am enjoying it so far. Some of the controls seem a little touchy, such as climbing up ladders and using items from that, but that’s not a huge issue. I look forward to digging into some of the more challenging levels.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories [PSP, 2009]
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories [PSP, 2009]
This is the first Silent Hill I have played since the original PSOne title. Apparently this is a “re-imagining” of said game, although it feels a lot different than I remember. I like the psychological aspects of this, but the lack of combat reduces the scare factor quite a bit. I am enjoying it so far, but it’s not blowing me away.