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Review: FIFA 10 - Ultimate Team (DLC)
by Tom Acres

DLC Information

Basic information
Ultimate Team
DLC for FIFA 10
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Released: February 2010

PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Following on from last year's highly successful Ultimate Team add-on for FIFA 09, EA Sports have unsurprisingly decided to do the same for FIFA 10. Last year's version was a surprisingly addictive spin on the FIFA formula with an emphasis on collecting and trading cards and then taking your team of stars onto the pitch in single player and online tournaments. This year, it's a much deeper and rewarding experience (especially for owners of the FIFA 09 Ultimate Team). It's also half the price of last year's version, coming in at 400 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 and £3.99 on the PlayStation 3.

So far, all fingers point to a very worthwhile piece of DLC for one of the UK's most popular games, and it certainly doesn't disappoint.

Before I delve in to what's different from last year, let me take you through the basic concept of Ultimate Team in case you missed it in FIFA 09. It's a bit of a mix of Manager Mode and Top Trumps, with the on-field gameplay of FIFA 10. Everyone starts the game with a packet of random cards, all of which are of the lowest quality level (bronze). You'll get some players, a few kits, a badge, a stadium and maybe some gamechanger cards such as stamina boosts and skill enhancements that can be applied to players prior to a match. If you own FIFA 09 Ultimate Team then you get the added treat of 2 gold packets which will give you a much easier start. From then on, the focus is on gaining coins from winning matches and selling or trading cards and using the coins to buy better players and other cards.

You can then take your team onto the pitch in single player and online tournaments to compete for trophies and lots and lots of coins. Your team can be customised with different badges, kits, and stadium, and you can also name your team. Unfortunately, you cannot import your Virtual Pro from FIFA 10, a somewhat disappointing omission seeing as that created players could be used in last year's Ultimate Team.

So, what differences are there from last year? For a start there's a tonne more players, kits, badges and stadiums available to use. The number of players available for use this year has been widened to include around 7500 from 29 leagues. These can be obtained in packets using either coins or by purchasing them with real money. The packets come in bronze, silver and gold variants, and each level also has new premium packets available with the very best players from that variant of packet. So if you want a chance of snatching the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi, then you're going to need to invest a lot of coins in a premium gold packet.

You can also trade cards with other players - a system which has been much improved from last year. The search filters are much more specific and in-depth, so you can find that perfect player. This is important because players have more traits that you need to watch out for. Putting players in the wrong position, or in a formation they don't like, will lower their performance. Also, if they're playing alongside clubmates, countrymen or players from the same league, then their performance will increase.

All of these traits I've mentioned come into play via the new chemistry system. This was experimented with a similar system back in the PlayStation 2 days in FIFA 06. However, this time the players are linked with each other, so deciding what formations to use and where to place the players lends a little more weight to the overall chemistry of the team. You'll also need to be aware of how well your squad members will interact with the the team-mates who are placed in close proximity to them. Obviously it won't make much odds if the striker and the goalkeeper don't get along, but if your two centre backs have poor chemistry then you could be in some trouble.

This system doesn't just affect players though. This season, the off-field staff have been expanded to include coaches and physios as well as just managers. Someone like Arsene Wenger would help a lot if you have a lot of Arsenal players or French players, but would probably struggle with a team full of Welsh League 2 players. Physios can be used to help players recover from injury quicker and coaches can help players adapt to fit into new formations to improve the team chemistry.

Like last year, all your players and staff need to be kept using contract cards. Unlike last year however, they don't just disappear when their contract runs out. They'll hang about until you offer them a contract or you can discard them and gain a small compensation fee. This is just one of the changes that makes this year's DLC much more user friendly than FIFA 09's.

Your assembled team can then take part in tournaments. EA have introduced featured tournaments for special events such as St Patrick's Day and some also have restrictions on entry, such as having to ahve a certain number of English players. Once you're on the pitch, anyone who's played a good amount of FIFA 10 will feel right at home because nothing has changed.

There have been some changes to the Ultimate Team that confuse and frustrate though. Weridly, EA have decied to take out some pretty cool features. I've already mantioned the lack of Virtual Pro support, but they've also removed the cool album feature which allowed you to see all your cards in a cool collector's album format. Strangely enough, EA has placed a cap on player training - it's no longer possible to train a lesser player up to a 99-rated superstar.

Whilst all of the omissions do indeed frustrate and really rather baffle me, the improvements to the tournament system and better trading system more than make up for it. The new introductions of more players and the chemistry system also make this a much better offering than last year. It's also at the pocket friendly price of £3.99, so anyone with a love of FIFA 10 should certainly check it out.



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- Tom Acres

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