Let’s cut to the chase shall we; FIFA 11 is the definite football experience on any videogame console. After spending most of the noughties dragging its heels behind the competition, FIFA finally got its act together in the last couple of editions, culminating in last year’s FIFA 10, a game that redefined the franchise and reaffirmed our faith in the football videogame genre. FIFA 11 reiterates the critical intent of FIFA 10 without actually changing any of the core gameplay elements. But don’t think this is just FIFA 10 with a new number stamped on the front cover. FIFA 11 packs enough bite to justify a purchase even if you already own a copy of FIFA 10.
Everything and anything new about 11 is subtle, subtle enough for you to eventually notice it but also subtle enough as to not dramatically alter the reinforced FIFA 10 playing style that’s embedded in your mind on your fingertips. Personality+ is arguably the most significant introduction to 11’s ranks, a feature you can bet your bottom dollar will grow and expand in every annual edition yet to come. Put simply, Personality+ raises the realism stakes but a notch. Thanks to a thorough and comprehensive database of stats and player attributes, certain players, namely the ones we are all most familiar with, will genuinely perform like their real life counterparts. They will take risks, glory hunt, head into the box for corners or sprit down the wings from the defence. Players like Rooney have tremendous strength and is particularly deadlier than most from 25yards. Steven Gerrard is particularly effusive at crossing. Personality+ is a neat little additional, but it’s still very much in its infancy. Visually the game is as impressive as last year. Character models are real to life and some of the animations are truly exceptional. Dedication to realism beats at the heart of FIFA 11.
The sheer physically of the game is a real highlight for 11. Players are dogged and resolute with or without the ball and literally fight for every yard of space. No more dashing past defenders or circling players while lightly jogging. You have to work harder in 11 and when you do eventually crack a defence open and best defenders, it’s all the more rewarding. Passing and shooting have also been given an added impetus. A quick jog around the now compulsory arena mode indicates that every shot you take on goal is much different than the last, no two shots are the same and players will instinctively shoot from similar positions in different ways. Passing can be deadly in 11 with the addition of a power gauge that essentially determines just how much pace and power you want to put onto your connecting pass. It’s incredibly accurate and extremely accessible. You will get the hang of this from the outset. Sure, sometimes the game doesn’t quite understand what you’re trying to achieve with a pass and your effort will end put wayward but this isn’t exactly a consistent issue.
Where FIFA 11 genuinely breaks new territory is with the ability to actually play as a goalkeeper both offline and online. It’s actually quite an enjoyable feature but only in short bursts. You can control your keeper’s movement with the left analogue and diving with the right analogue. The game ‘predicts’ the direction of an incoming shot and also directs you where to stand for you best chance of making that all important save. It’s innovative and different but you won’t dedicate your life to it. It can be quite an insular and alienating experience for you while you wait for your opponents to attack the goal, so patience is a virtue. Mind you, you can actually shout instructions at your players downfield from between the sticks so it’s not a total exercise in tedium and boredom.
FIFA 10’s accomplished Career Mode graduates to 11 and receives more of a visual revamp than anything else. The presentation of the menus and the level of information, data and statistics they throw at you is more manageable than last year. There’s a new creation centre that allows you to create players and teams online and share them with other players through a web browser. There’s also a comprehensive replay theatre.
Online, FIFA 11 is as reliable as ever. It’s robust and accomplished and is problem free for the most part. There are no real additions to online modes, although 10 v 10 has been expanded to 11 v 11 thanks to the addition of the playable goalkeeper.
FIFA 11 reaffirms the strength and quality of the FIFA franchise. It is the definitive football experience on a console. What more could you ask for? Buy it.
TGL Score 9/10
Format(s): Playstation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, PC, DS, Playstation 2, iPhone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: 1st October 2010