FIFA 10 Updated Hands-On

We scored an updated look at FIFA 10 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, including the new custom set-piece feature.

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FIFA 10 may have been shown to us extraordinarily early this year, but it's clear that the development team still had plenty to reveal about the game when we first saw it in April. One such feature is the new custom set-piece tool, which allows you to prepare detailed team movements for free kick situations. We talked to producer David Rutter about custom set pieces on a recent visit to EA, and we used the opportunity to grill him about new gameplay tweaks, the updated Manager mode, and more.

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Custom set pieces are a brand-new addition to FIFA 10 and will allow you to set up elaborate multiplayer moves to use in free kick situations. We got to play around with this new feature using preview code, and we were pleased with the results. The system works by selecting individual players and then recording their movements, by drawing them out onscreen like postmatch TV analysis. Once you've mapped out the move, you can practice it, tweak it to make it more successful, and then save it for quick access in the game. There will be 32 set-piece save slots in total, and you can assign them to the D pad to activate during a match.

There's an interesting story behind the custom set-piece feature: It was originally a development tool, and EA Canada figured it would be crazy not to open it up to players. At the moment, the feature is a little more than half complete and was prone to crashing as we played around with it. The team was also uncertain about whether custom set pieces will be sharable online in the same way that custom tactics are sharable, but it's something they're certainly exploring. Whatever happens, we're already imagining being able to watch real-life set pieces dissected on television, and then trying them out in-game.

On the gameplay side, the team is boastful about what it has been able to achieve in FIFA 10--its fourth year with this particular engine. The player AI has been tweaked so that the AI players now actively avoid the ball when necessary--for example, if it's going out of bounds after having been kicked by an opponent. Players will also perform what the team calls "reflex traps," which means a player will stick his leg out if the ball's running behind him. The practice arena has also been improved, so you can now set up five-a-side matches or even multiplayer games from the main menu, without any loading.

Manager mode is getting an overhaul too.
Manager mode is getting an overhaul too.

The other major feature upgrade this year is Manager mode, which David Rutter promises will address the authenticity that has been lacking during the past few years. We didn't get to play this mode, but Rutter says it will offer more authentic transfers, believable player development, and the feeling of being surrounded by an active football world. Despite the popularity of online play, with 275 million games played online in FIFA 09, Manager mode is still one of the most popular ways of playing FIFA, so it's a huge focus for the team.

We're sure there's a lot more to FIFA 10 than we've seen so far, so if this preview has piqued your interest in the game, make sure you check out our previous coverage. EA Sports has promised another big reveal at Gamescom in Cologne in August, so we'll have all the details for you from Germany next month.

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