Reviewed: March 9, 2010
Released: February 25, 2010
In 2007, EA released UEFA Champions League 2006-2007. It had a new mode called Ultimate Team which was a creative trading card based system where you would earn points for games played and other achievements. Then you could use those points to buy virtual packs of cards to build your team. I didn't think I would like that part of the game, but it ended up being the best part of UEFA that year.
Now EA has brought Ultimate Team to their other sports games and strategically removed it from the shipping version of FIFA 10 to try and recoup the millions they are “losing” in the used game market. It also adds a little shelf-life to their product, but let's be honest, EA is in this to make money and what better way to do that than charging 400 Microsoft Points for a DLC that used to be included in the products. Wise move...
Reportedly EA sold more than 100,000 copies of the DLC for FIFA 09 and even more virtual packs of cards. But most likely those sales are across the pond and not so much in the USA. But the results are EA is making a lot of money and keeps cranking out FIFA soccer games every few months in various forms. So now we have FIFA 10 Ultimate Team as a DLC on Xbox Live. Ultimate Team allows you to build, and manage your teams and compete online against literally thousands of gamers across the world. You build your team by playing matches and earning coins based on how well you play. The better you play the more coins you will earn to purchase packs or pick up new items available for trade.
Manage your team by building chemistry based on your players preferences and the connections within your tam. Use your entire club of players to find the most suitable players for each of the 15 teams you have the ability to create. Unlike older versions of Ultimate Team, FIFA 10 has greatly increased the significance of team chemistry. So saving up your coins and buying all Gold level packs doesn't necessarily guarantee your success. Building a team of superstars (and their super egos) doesn't make them want to play together. So little things matter – even the nationality of the players.
The squads screen is where you build and manage your team. Team building is about getting the best player you can, and then getting them to play well together. You have to always consider your star ratings and your team chemistry. A team with good chemistry will play like they are at the top of the English Premiere League, but a team with bad chemistry will play like they are in Major League Soccer.
Players like to play in their preferred position, but they can play in similar positions if they chemistry is good with players around them. They also have a preferred formation. Players look for connections with other players. So playing with the same club, league, or country will be significant to establish a link with others. You can manage up to 15 teams. Manage your team by keeping them fit, happy, and under contract. Improve your team through training which gives them a boost for the next match. Morale and fitness items can affect the entire team. The effects of any item are boosted even more by the staff you have picked for your club.
Once you have your teams, you can enter tournaments in either a Featured, Online, or single player mode. Featured tourney's are only open for a limited time but have the most rewards and most varied entry requirements. Requirements like “lineup with 4 players from same country” may require you to make some adjustments to your squad. Single player tournaments are played against the CPU and online tournaments are played against other users from around the world. Each tournament has a round multiplier which give you a varied amount of coins for each round. The team that performs the best in the tournament gets the “Team of the Tournament” prize with added coins.
The most time consuming (and probably most fun for people like me who have a large trading card collection from my childhood) is using the coins to buy packs of cards. The store has cards in either bronze, silver, or gold packs. Bronze packs are a good value for increasing your depth. The normal bronze pack (12 items, mostly bronze, 1 rare) is 250 coins while the Premium Bronze Pack is 450 coins but has 3 rare cards. The silver pack (1,750 coins) is 12 items, mostly silver, 1 rare while the Premium Silver (2,500 coins) has 3 rare. The best packs are Gold with 12 items, mostly gold, and 1 rare for 3,750 coins. The premium gold pack has the 12 items but 3 rare for 5,000 coins. These prices are “deal” prices which are normally higher (gold premium is normally 7,500 coins). The deals come and go so get them while you can. You can either use your earned coins or trade in your Microsoft Points for packs of cards which can add up to some real money if you are looking for a quick all-star team.
The easiest and most expensive way to build your team is buy going to the trading area. Similar to what you would find on eBay, you can search for specific items or players, or buy and sell your items. You have a trade pile where you deposit all the cards you don't want, and a watch list with things you are interested in buying. It's easier to get what you want, but it's also a lot more expensive compared to just buying packs of cards. For example, Messi is rated at 91 and would be a great addition to most any team, but he is being auctioned for 220,000 coins! You can buy an awful lot of gold packs for that amount of coins and maybe improve your whole squad – plus you might get lucky and get Messi in a pack. Occasionally you will find a deal here and there, but usually you are far better off buying packs of cards.
Your club houses all the of the items you have earned in your FIFA 10 Ultimate Team career. Within your club you also will have your badges, kits, stadiums and balls you have earned. Your entire staff is also available for review. All the trophies you have won are also stored here.
FIFA 10 Ultimate Team is a fun addition so the great FIFA 10 game. But I suspect EA would make more money by offering it for free to get more players who will spend Microsoft Points to get a few Gold Packs of cards to make their fast all-star teams. Unfortunately I don't know many people who will spend 400 points on a DLC when EA has their World Cup game coming in a month.