XBOX Reviews

FIFA 11 Review

Each year we are presented with a new football video game from EA’s FIFA franchise. The wait this year was made slightly less painful with the release of the World Cup videogame, which impressed many. It’s important for the series to constantly make large steps forward, as the battle between FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer continues to evolve. So, does FIFA 11 have enough improvements to keep its fans firmly with the series? Both FIFA 11 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 have some impressive new features on offer, you won’t be disappointed!

FIFA 10 was a great game. With FIFA 11, EA have totally revamped what FIFA 10 could offer, as well as adding some new features. FIFA 11 is a much more finely tuned game, and actually looks amazing.

I always thought; why can’t EA make it possible for players to take control of the goal keeper in online matches – well, now you can! This means you are now able to partake in 11 vs. 11 online ‘Be A Pro’ matches, instead of 10 vs. 10. I should advise you might want some serious offline practice with this new feature before playing as a goalkeeper online, it requires some skill! This new mode is called: ‘Be A Goalkeeper’.

The gameplay now requires more patience and craft; this is something you are sure to notice. Previously you could take Agbonlahor, Lennon, Walcott or any other speed merchant and simply race past defenders like they didn’t exist, time and time again. It’s still possible to use their pace to your advantage, but requires more intelligent thinking and build up: it’s more realistic. AI goal keepers are now far more intelligent, which makes scoring far harder. Taking penalties uses a new system, the same system FIFA World Cup offered, making it more of a challenge. Refereeing is smarter and works better.

Remember Manager Mode? Well, EA have scraped this mode and replaced it with an entirely new mode named ‘Career Mode’. It’s much more authentic and allows you to take on a 15 season career as a player or manager. A new simulation engine makes the whole experience far more realistic, with a new transfer engine. Presentations are also impressive.

The physics engine performs very well, every shot looks and is different, making the whole experience far more varied. The same goes for tackles and goal keeping. Passing is somewhat less automated; you can no longer just tap a button and expect it to land perfectly. You now need to consider the power you want to put into a pass as well as the direction.

Personality + is another new feature introduced to FIFA 11. This feature helps to make each player on the pitch play as they would in real life. For example, I support Aston Villa; Ashley Young will be the player on my team, who will have all the tricks and skills, Agbonlahor the speedster, Downing the free kick specialist etc. This mode hasn’t quite lived up to its expectations, not quite advanced enough, but it certainly adds a nice flavour to gameplay.

FIFA 11 offers a visual delight; it looks as good as it plays. Players look more detailed and realistic; more animations are also on offer. Player celebrations also use an improved animation system, it fits in far better. Something that does need further addressing is the crowd visuals – they still don’t look quite realistic enough and have that squared appearance, something that I hope will finally be overhauled in FIFA 12. The menu hasn’t changed much in recent previous versions, FIFA 11 brings a better looking menu system, which is simpler and operates better. Shadows and lighting both look awesome. Pitch textures also look stunning. Weather conditions are integrated better with gameplay. However, it would be nice to see wind captured within weather conditions (effecting the balls movement), perhaps something that might feature in FIFA 12.

Replay Theatre is a new feature, which allows players to save their favourite goals and selected highlights to their hard drive or to the web to share with others. You can save highlights from online games, which is done by accessing the menu at the end of a match. This is a brilliant new feature, scoring that 40 yard goal can now be captured!

The audio effects help to capture the perfect atmosphere, crowd chants combined with high quality commentary complement gameplay. Team and player stats are now integrated with commentary, as you’re playing they might bring up either teams best passer, or, which teams having most possession.  A variety of music tracks are also played as you scroll the menus (as usual) some include: Rules Don’t Stop, Splitting the Atom, I Can Talk, Fire With Fire and Sun In My Pocket. You can even customise music and chants.

Ok, so here comes the ultimate question – should you consider checking out Pro Evolution Soccer 2011? In short, yes. A year back we would have said a big NO. However, PES has vastly improved this time around and in summary: PES is likely to give you slightly better visuals and a different style of gameplay, opposed to FIFAs featured packed ‘likable’ gameplay.

Don’t expect a totally new game with FIFA 11; it has many similarities to those in FIFA 10. However, this game improves on virtually every aspect of what was a very good game; FIFA 10. What you get in FIFA 11 makes it a must have title. Why? Passing has been improved; it’s up-to-date and looks terrific, nice improvements to Career Mode, plays a treat and other minor welcome tweaks. In my opinion, FIFA remains the king football video game for another year at least. Until October 2011, FIFA 11 should be your football video game of choice; it really is ‘the beautiful game’.

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