FIFA Soccer 11 - ReviewXavier Griffiths , posted on 26 November 2010 / 4,411 Views
FIFA Soccer 10 was far and away the most critically acclaimed and best selling sports game last year. It featured some great gameplay improvements, added great new content, and delivered it all with stylish presentation worthy of the sport it depicts. Fast forward a year and FIFA Soccer 11 builds on the rock solid legacy of its predecessor. The leap ahead is admittedly not quite as dramatic or breathtaking as the jump from 09 to 10, but this year’s game is another strong, feature-rich title that's sure to please virtual footballers everywhere.
Last year’s addition brought a greater sense of physicality to the gameplay that has now once again been improved upon. There are greater variations in the way you tackle, slide, jostle, bump and come into contact with other players. The animations for these maneuvers come off as mostly authentic, a fact attributable to what the developers call Personality Plus. This system entails a greater commitment to rendering the way players dribble, run, shoot, and react in relation to their living counterparts. The change is more prominent for well known players but works as advertised nonetheless. On the whole, the visual animation is strong, the only drawbacks are some less than believable physical reactions and some truly bizarre - although irregular - glitches where players disappear from the screen for maybe a split second.
On the field the gameplay is still terrific. The sense of control is astounding, complemented by a new passing system that allows you to hold down the passing button to connect with a teammate further down the field. It takes time and practice to get used to though, because if not timed correctly the command will result in a wild pass that almost assuredly forfeits possession. There is also the issue of unintentionally passing the ball downfield when you really wanted to kick it hard to a nearby comrade. Many of the things great about the gameplay are simply retained innovation from FIFA 10, and although FIFA 11 implements a few new elements, none of are truly game-changers. That is not a a major concern, though, because FIFA is as smooth and satisfying to play as ever.
The new Creation Centre lets you construct teams, players and strategies on EA’s website for later download to your system. The tools work well and are surprisingly in depth. Although, it would have been nice if the system was built into the game and a bit more streamlined.
Virtual Pro returns, but I was initially disappointed in it. You can’t import your character from last year, and secondly some appearance options are locked out when initially creating your character. Another point of contention is not being able to assign personality traits to your created player that would allow him to behave as if influenced by Personality Plus. It is still addicting (and time consuming) to improve your Virtual Pro from a novice to a star player and the achievement-like reward system definitely helps.
New this year is the Be a Goalie mode, an admittedly bold step for the franchise. For the first time you are allowed to take full control of the keeper to block a shot any way you can. Unfortunately, I don’t find it at all fun to control the goalie and I doubt most people will either. This has to do with the awkward behind-the-goal third person viewpoint and the static feeling of the controls when playing in the mode. With the push of a button you can take control of the passing and shooting of teammates ahead of you but are required to warp back to control the goalie to block any shots by flicking the right thumbstick. With enough practice you can get used to this new style of play but it is not as rewarding as controlling anyone else on the field.
Career Mode offers three ways to play: Player (Control a player), Manager (act as manager), and Player Manager (control a player and act as manager). Largely it plays the same as last year but with a new layout and calendar. Even with the new additions, I prefer the setup of FIFA 10 and wished they had improved the mode in a more significant way. It is still exhilarating to control a single player and guide him through his career, just as it is equally satisfying to serve as manager and refine your team with each decision you make, whether it be managing contracts or investing in stadium upgrades.
Be a Goalie may not be the most elegant gameplay addition but it does finally allow for true 11 vs 11 online matches. Other online additions include a leaderboard that does a fine job of showing how you stack up against your friends. The game also auto-saves the highlights of each and every match, allowing you to upload them to the internet for the world to see. The matchmaking works well and lag is kept to a minimum. If you had fun with the online features before then you should do with FIFA 11 as well because most things are as you remember them to be.
The jump in visuals from FIFA 10 to 11 is subtle, which doesn’t hurt because FIFA 10 looked great. More options for after goal celebrations are available, such as allowing you to run up to a teammate and jump on his back. Somehow the developers manage to continually fill the soundtrack with tracks that are as catchy as they are diverse. However, this year you have to ability to upload your own tunes and customize how and when they play during the game. There are options for unique chants, music that plays after goals, in the menus and through the stadium speakers while playing. As for commentary, Gray and Tilsley return in good (not great) form.
FIFA 11 may not seem as fresh or innovative as its predecessor but it is strong in the areas that count, namely realism, depth, and online multiplayer. The Be a Goalie mode, while a tad slow and cumbersome, shows promise and a willingness to try new things. Football fans have undoubtedly already picked this one up and are likely loving every minute of it, as they should, because FIFA 11 is a really good sports game.
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