If you like football you're almost certainly looking forward to the World Cup next month. Hell, even if you don't like football you may get caught up in the whole thing. But, if you're English, it's bound to end in heartbreak. It doesn't have to be like that, though. With the World Cup 2010 video game, things can be different.
You decide who's in the England squad and who makes the first XI
Remember when Sven-Göran Eriksson brought Theo Walcott to the World Cup and didn't use him? That was crap, wasn't it? What about this year? Think Sunderland goal machine Darren Bent deserves a place on the plane to South Africa? What about Aston Villa speedster Gabby Agbonlahor? Should Jermain Defoe start up front with Wayne Rooney? What about the "Gerrard and Lampard can't play in midfield together" dilemma? England coach Fabio Capello can't please everyone, but with FIFA you can certainly please yourself. Each international team has a number of reserves you can substitute in for the default squad players. Waiting in the wings for England are the aforementioned Bent and Agbonlahor, diminutive Man City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, Everton utility man Phil Jagielka and West Ham battering ram Carlton Cole, among others. Best of all, not only can you decide the 23 players who go to the World Cup, but the starting line-up as well. Take that Emile Heskey.
Portugal don't have to be in it
England were knocked out by Portugal in the last two international tournaments. We can't seem to beat our Mediterranean rivals. There's not much we can do about that in the real world - no doubt Portugal will beat us again in some heart-breaking penalty shootout - but in the virtual world it doesn't have to be that way. In FIFA, not only can you turn the difficulty down to ridiculously easy and knock 20 goals past their hapless keeper, you can go one step further and scratch their name from the World Cup entirely. When setting up the 2010 FIFA World Cup mode, you can change the fixture type from "real" to "custom". From there, you can decide which 32 international teams are in the World Cup. The best way to beat Portugal at the World Cup is to make sure they're not in it. Get in.
You can turn injuries, offsides and bookings off
You don't have to be Mystic Meg to know that one of our lot is going to get sent off at the World Cup (probably Wayne Rooney), the ref will disallow a perfectly good England goal for offside (probably scored by Wayne Rooney) and someone will suffer a horrible injury in the opening group match against the USA, ruling them out for the rest of the tournament (probably Wayne Rooney). In FIFA, you can simply turn all these horrible real life frustrations off in the "Rules" options menu, leaving Wayne to jump in two footed without running the risk of getting sent off, breaking his own metatarsal or being flagged offside.
England can win
Let's be honest with each other: England probably won't win the World Cup. Spain are basically Barcelona without Messi, and Argentina are Messi. This is the depressing reality of real life. Every four years we as a nation dare to dream that this time we may just do it. If Wayne Rooney's fit. But it's all irrational nonsense fuelled by silly hype. We're just not good enough. In FIFA though, we are, because you're in charge and you can set the difficulty to ridiculously easy levels. So yeah, play the 2010 FIFA World Cup mode and go nuts. The lengthy celebration scene isn't in the game for nothing.
You can be in it
You'll never play for England. You're too fat, too old, too lazy and too crap at kicking round bouncy things into nets propped up by posts. This is the great depression of the male sex; life is not a movie, or an inspiring rags to riches tale or any other ridiculous false hope type thing you see on Sky. Life is watching football on the telly with a can of cheap lager in one hand and a Domino's pizza slice in the other. But in FIFA it's different. In FIFA, you can play for England with the Captain Your Country Mode. You can create a virtual pro that has your height and build, has your name, and even has your face, making it look like you're actually playing for your favourite team in the World Cup. Eat that real life.