Let’s face it, playing FIFA 09 in the face of all the FIFA 10 news is getting harder. After starting a final Manager Mode gane as my beloved Tranmere Rovers (as well as fitting in a few online games along the way), I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the flaws. Poor reaction times and floaty shots in-particular have made the time until October seem longer than ever.
This time with FIFA 09 has served a purpose though; I put together a list of my gripes with the game, along with important questions asked repeatedly on the FSB forums (and various other FIFA-loving forums across the web). Eventually we had a list of seven key questions that needed answers. Now, courtesy of the FIFA 10 team, we have them.
[FIFASoccerBlog] First off, a question for the Online Team Play guys. It’s been said that 5v5 play will be available again in FIFA 10, but will you be able to set a specific amount of players pre-game (e.g. 4v4, 6v6, 8v8)? Or is it a flat-out 5v5 or 10v10 option?
[FIFA 10 Online Producer Christophe Labrune] You can choose up to 5v5, which is a cool alternative, however we only allow it in unranked. We really want to encourage up to 10v10 online, with players specialized at each position. Note that in ranked Online Team Play, there can only be one “any” player now.
Please note that 5v5 does not mean 5-a-side. It’s still 11v11 but with 5 human controlled players. Hope that makes sense.
[FIFASoccerBlog] Would you say dribbling has been improved, at least for the more skilful players? Public opinion is that beating a man is near-impossible in FIFA 09 due to response times, whereas in PES it could be argued that it’s actually too easy (to the point where you feel like the ball is on a string).
[FIFA 10 Gameplay Producer Aaron McHardy] I think the new dribbling in FIFA 10 is probably our most significant feature. I’m sure you’ve heard all about 360 dribbling and how it changes the way you play, but the balance in dribbling is something that I am quite happy with.
This year you are able to beat players with the regular dribble (not just skill moves), but not to the point where it breaks the game. We achieved this not just by making improvements to dribble responsiveness, but also by working on things like momentum in tackling. This year I feel that it is easier to catch a defender off balance, and get around him if his momentum is going in the wrong direction. Last year it often seemed that we allowed the tackler to break momentum and make some unrealistic tackles which swayed the balance in 1-on-1s in favour of the defender.
Further to this, we’ve done some work in our jostling system to make those shoulder to shoulder battles for possession more organic. Last year, at times it felt like dribbling with physically weak players was very precarious because as soon as a defender got close, they would be pushed off the ball. The work that was done in our jostling system this year gives dribbling the ball with physically weaker players a bit more variety. This coupled with the increased ability to avoid jostling defenders with the use of 360 degree dribbling makes for a bit more of a dribbling friendly system. However, it’s still no cakewalk. With improvements to the slide tackle, jockey, running jockey, pressing, jockey pressing etc., I am quite happy with the balance that we have found in dribbling for FIFA 10.
[FIFASoccerBlog] Does power still equal height when you shoot? In FIFA 09 it was incredibly difficult (and usually random) to be able to hit a hard low shot – it was always either a weak low shot or a hard high shot.
[FIFA 10 Gameplay Producer Aaron McHardy] Yes, the power bar still governs the elevation angle in FIFA 10. However, there are some changes that we have made to the balance that make shooting in FIFA 10 a bit more exciting from outside of the area. One thing that we did, was tune the rate that the elevation angle increases from 22-35(ish) yards. I think it was a bit high in FIFA 09, which made it difficult to keep long shots from going over the bar. We’ve also increased the amount of power that players rated with 90+ shot power can put on the ball. This means that if you have a player with a really hard shot, they can get more power on a shot from distance with lower elevation. So I do think it is possible to be a menace from distance, but be sure to get yourself into a good position before you try it. If the situation is not right, your shot will likely have a bunch of error, and it could end up in row Z.
[FIFASoccerBlog] Linking in to the question above, will you see more long-range goals? Not a silly amount but you see them more often in real life than you do in FIFA 09 (watching Match of the Day you’ll usually see at least one per week). Goalkeepers always seem to have long-range shots covered in FIFA 09.
[FIFA 10 Gameplay Producer Aaron McHardy] See the answer above. On top of this, we are working on the balance of the goalkeeper at the moment (see below) to ensure we get just the right types of shots going in from distance.
[FIFASoccerBlog] The general opinion of FIFA 09’s goalkeepers amongst friends is that they are a bit superhuman at times (with the odd save where replays show their hand didn’t even touch the ball, but deflected off thin air) – we were glad to hear that goalkeeping is being worked on but it sounds like they may be even more difficult to beat. Would you say they will let in a few more well-placed shots now, or would you say it’s about the same?
[FIFA 10 Gameplay Producer Santiago Jaramillo] We spent a lot of time this year to make the goalkeepers more balanced. We are analyzing their reaction time, the speed of their saves, and many other components to make sure they are not able to save shots that would be physically impossible to save in real life. On the other hand, the goalkeepers in FIFA 10 will act more intelligently and be more difficult to beat in certain scenarios that were almost a guaranteed goal last year, namely the one-on-ones. Last year the goalkeeper would always stay on his line – giving the attacker a lot of the goal to shoot at – until he decided to rush towards the ball, which would be too late most of the time. In FIFA 10, we have added logic so that the goalkeeper narrows down the angle more and forces the attacker to make a decision early. There are many other such revisions this year, all aimed towards a more intelligent, but also more human goalkeeper.
[FIFASoccerBlog] In FIFA 09 the way that lower-league players are represented seems to be that they’re as slow and cumbersome as rhinos, with a very weak kicking power. Will they be implemented in the same way this year? Playing a Manager Mode game with a lower-league team is incredibly frustrating because in reality, you don’t find that lower-league players are all slow and/or can’t kick a ball hard, it’s the *skill* that is lacking.
[FIFA 10 Development Manager for Data Collection David Grant] This is something that we are aware of and we are working to address the issue. The main problem for us lies around availability of data; for all leagues it is very hard to get an accurate rating for a player if you have only seen him play a few games. We have increased our community of data reviewers this year and we hope to address this issue with most leagues with the additional feedback.
[FIFASoccerBlog] Finally, what would you say was your best moment with FIFA 10 so far? What moment have you witnessed in the gameplay that’s made you think “wow, this game has really come along since FIFA 09”?
[FIFA 10 Gameplay Producer Aaron McHardy] A free flowing Chelsea move that my Gunners seemed that they would be unable to stop. It resulted in a break from about 35 yards out, and I seemed to be doomed. Gael Clichy took off running as fast as he could from a position near the sideline 5 yards on the wrong side of the ball and a breaking Drogba appeared in the centre of the pitch. Drogba rounds the keeper with a fake shot, the keeper bites and is caught wrong-footed, an off-balance falling Drogba fires a ball toward the back of the net, Clichy throws himself at the shot and gets a leg on it. The ball settles in a somewhat dangerous spot, and Kolo Toure comes in to safely clear for a throw. We all jumped out of our seats! Then the throw in, it’s taken long, there’s a flick on and an outlandish back heel attempt from Drogba… Almunia parries, and Toure again clears to safety. At this time, I am actually holding my chest because of the palpitations…
Huge thanks to David Grant, Santiago Jaramillo, Christophe Labrune, Aaron McHardy and David Rutter for – yet again – sparing enough time to listen to us.