It seems odd to be talking about football at a time when it has been indefinitely suspended, but there’s an important milestone to celebrate for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa video game tie-in. For anyone struggling with the maths, ten years have passed since its release, hence I’ve decided to reminisce about EA Sport’s successful spin-off from the regular FIFA series and exciting tournament that followed.

FIFA World Cup South Africa video game

The actual FIFA World Cup South Africa gave us a psychic octopus who could predict the future, an unpredictable match ball that caused chaos for goalkeepers, and yet more proof that the Spanish national team were ridiculously talented. Unfortunately it also led to the torturous sounds of the vuvuzela horn during every match and the shattering realisation that England still weren’t up to the task after being knocked out by their arch-nemesis Germany. As a tournament it was enjoyable to watch, but the sporting event actually occurred a couple of months subsequent to the game and that’s what took the responsibility for satiating the masses in the build-up.

For those of us in Europe, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (which I will henceforth to be abbreviating to FIFA World Cup SA) arrived on 30th April 2010 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and PSP. It was released in-between EA Sports’ main titles FIFA 10 and FIFA 11, so as well as creating hype for the World Cup it also served as a way for the developers to try out some new gameplay features. As someone who plays a lot of FIFA each year, there’s no doubt FIFA World Cup SA was a breath of fresh air.

Upon launching the game the incredibly addictive and uplifting title track from K’naan, “Wavin’ Flag”, sets the tone for a jolly good time to be had. There are a plethora of game modes to suit whatever mood you’re in, with the ability to try and win the World Cup being the pinnacle of the experience; especially online as you battle real people on the road to success. The fact that it features the official squads for 199 nations means the chance of representing your country is almost guaranteed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re from France or Vietnam because it’s got you covered as long as the nation took part in qualifying.

That’s even more apparent in my favourite mode, Captain Your Country, with plenty of teams to choose from – although I only had eyes for England. The aim is take a created character through the ranks of an international team and lead them to glory by performing well consistently. It offered decent longevity as there are many matches to play in including qualifiers and friendlies. I knew I’d little chance of ever seeing Steven Gerrard doing it for real, so it gave me great pleasure to bang in a ton of goals and claim the trophy with the armband on. 

Despite personally possessing an innate ability for scoring goals, the new defensive systems implemented by the A.I. controlled players often made it quite tough for most people to break down the opposition. This ensured the majority of matches in the early days were intensely tight affairs and instilled an inherent belief that a win was rarely out of reach. As is usually the case though, exploits were soon found and you’d witness goals galore online from then onwards.

The Story of Qualifying was the only other mode that stood out back in the day, with a wide selection of scenarios present to partake in. It featured loads of qualifying matches and extras, which focused on the finals in South Africa, were added at a later date. Essentially it allowed you to recreate and rewrite history by taking control of a team mid-match and completing objectives. For example, you may be thrown in to pull off a comeback, scrape a last-minute draw, or score a crucial penalty. If you wanted a quick fix, these scenarios were ideal and provided a challenge.

FIFA World Cup SA remains one of the best World Cup games to date, but that’s generally because the offerings since have been disappointing. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil flopped due to a lack of creative ideas in both the game mode and gameplay departments, which led to the end of standalone games for the prestigious tournament. Sadly, that meant the only content we saw relating to the 2018 FIFA World Cup – hosted by Russia – was a free update to FIFA 18. While it was free, I couldn’t help desiring a full game to really get on the hype train to Moscow.

I adored 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and wish for an official instalment to accompany the Qatar World Cup in the future. For now though, we’ll just have to share our fond memories of the joys delivered by the FIFA game based on the South African event. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us whether it was a hit for you, or if it missed the mark entirely.

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