Importantly, FIFA World Cup is well balanced. Yes, pace, quick counters and wild attempts on goal play a bigger part this time but good build up play, an ability to hold up the ball and picking out passes long and short are still firmly a part of this beautiful game. Ultimately tactical variety will prevail and that's the difference between FIFA World Cup, PES and even previous FIFA instalments.
Players are also more manoeuvrable this time around. FIFA 10 felt more fluid than any football sim before it, but it's only when you play World Cup 2010 that you realise that EA still had more to do.
Movement in FIFA World Cup feels much tighter, with players able to twist, turn and collide with other players only to recover and carry on. Add this to the original 360 dribbling feature and skill moves (LT and the right analogue stick) that feel more responsive and you'll find that, with the right player, you can really work in tight spaces, switching directions quickly as you zip through your opponents defence.
You know this works well when you surprise yourself with a seemingly impossible manoeuvre. Take a player like Cesc Fabregas and, with a flash of inspiration and a bit of luck, your thumb will take over as you dodge tackles from all angles instinctively. Pat yourself on the back, that's your skill coming through, but if you were to go back to FIFA 10 you'd find it harder. This is the first system that has allowed such close, intricate control.
Further to the fluidity of the game engine is the way in which 2010 FIFA World Cup keeps the player and the ball as two separate entities, moving away from rigid animation triggers. This means that there are always subtle differences to every pass, tackle, attack and goal and any of them can be interrupted at any point to suddenly put the game on a completely different course.
The foundations of this were present in FIFA 10, but World Cup finishes the job, with every aspect simply looking and feeling more reactionary and on the fly. Associated with this is freedom of movement on a very fundamental level. In the past players would find themselves stuck on a set running path against an invisible wall often. This engine characteristic, which has always been present to some extent in every football sim to date, is now virtually nonexistent.
Away from the pitch there's a generous helping of features with three main game modes aside from a basic exhibition match. Obviously there's only one tournament available here and the World Cup, whether played online or offline, is given a real sense of occasion with colourful introductions and fantastic South African stadiums.
Players are given the opportunity to take any one of the 199 international teams from the World Cup group stages, the finals or through a full World Cup. The players themselves are subject to form, fatigue and injury, and a menu system geared to look like a sports news website is the final touch to a really immersive tournament mode.
'Captain Your Country' returns and works very much like FIFA's Be a Pro, taking a player from the fringes of their national team, playing in B team friendlies and progressing to the World Cup final as the teams captain. If you choose a real life first team player rather than creating an original footballer, you'll still start off in the same situation but your manager will be looking for you to prove yourself after a bad spell of form.
This new mode is more forgiving than its FIFA 10 equivalent. Be a Pro often requires your player to be in the perfect defensive position one minute and spearheading the perfect attack the next, deducting points quickly if you don't meet the grade. Captain Your Country requires less of the player at such short notice and rewards more than it takes away, which means you can relax and focus a bit more on the pitch rather than the points indicator.