FIFA 11 is the latest installment of EA’s popular series of soccer games. It includes a number of great improvements on FIFA 10 that make it a ridiculously realistic simulation of the real thing and a worthy competitor for Pro Evolution Soccer 2011.
Having been blown away by the previous version of FIFA, we found it hard to imagine how EA could possibly improve its slick soccer sim. However, after a few matches of this demo version it’s clear that the changes aren’t merely cosmetic.
The enhancements to the gameplay in FIFA 11 make it feel a lot more like real football. The new Personality+ system means that players move and act as they do in real life. This means, for example, that Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney will charge around after the ball when he’s not in possession; while his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov is more content to stand around waiting for something to happen!
Other tweaks to the AI help to make FIFA 11 the most enjoyable version to-date. For instance, on crosses, it’s now normal to see more than one player coming up for the ball. You’ll also notice that the players are a bit faster than they were in FIFA 10.
Another important change in FIFA 11 is the ability to control the goalkeeper, which feels very natural and adds an extra element to the gameplay.
Handballs are introduced for the first time in FIFA 11. When a defender is positioned in the line of a shot he may stick out his hand to block it. The frequency of handballs is a little higher than it would be in real life, but you can disable them, or define that they don’t occur in penalty situations.
FIFA 11 also features a more refined passing system, giving you more control over ball distribution. The Pro Passing feature lets you measure passes more precisely by weighting them. The repertoire of passes has been beefed up too, and you can now perform swerve passes, flicks, driven lobs and apply backspin to balls.
One of the changes we didn’t like is the new penalty kick system, which is based around a power-bar. Stopping the pointer in the right place is very difficult because it takes a while to respond to your button press. This makes scoring penalties in FIFA 11 a difficult thing to do.
At first glance, FIFA 11’s graphics don’t look that different to the ones in the last version. Once you start seeing replays or close-ups, however, you realize that player likenesses are now more realistic. EA modeled player faces using photographs, and facial expressions are now more varied and change according to the player.
Another neat addition to FIFA 11 is the ability to upload your own audio for use within the game. You can record your own chants, add audio files of actual team chants, and define the music that a team runs out to.
FIFA 11 is still stacked with lots of game modes, including officially licensed leagues, exhibitions, training and Be a Pro. The one significant change this time out is the rehashing of the Manager mode, which is now known as Career mode, and integrates with Be a Pro. This is now more involved in that you start out as a player before becoming a player coach and eventually a fully-fledged manager.
These interesting new features, combined with super intelligent gameplay, make FIFA 11 the quintessential soccer sim.