FIFA 11 Review: Solid Soccer Fun Gets Even More Realistic

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FIFA Soccer 11
EA Sports
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP
ESRB rating: E for Everyone
System reviewed on: PS3

Like many titles from EA Sports, FIFA 11 presents owners of last year’s game with the decision of whether or not to shell out another $60 for this year’s version. New to FIFA 11 this year are a revamped career mode, the ability to play as the goalie, full 11-on-11 online matches, an overhauling of the graphics and physics engines, and a more authentic passing system.

Career mode lets you create your own persona and take the field over a 15-year stint as a player, handle on-the-field and back office operations as a player-manager, or simply orchestrate things as a non-playing manager. I found being a player to be a fun way to play a dedicated position, but I wish the career aspect would have run a bit deeper. Specifically, it would have been cool to create a player and have him get drafted and traded until he eventually worked his way up to a big name team. As it stands now, you create your player and place him on whichever team you want.

As for on-the-field gameplay, it’s impressively slick. The controls are responsive and players move realistically, especially when jockeying for position and sprinting towards a loose ball. The new passing system is much more true to life than previous efforts; you’ll need to put just the right amount of touch on each pass to make sure it gets to your teammate safely. No more hitting the pass button and watching it magnetically roll to its intended target.

The new be-a-goalie feature is about as exciting as being a goalie in real life. You’ll spend much of the match waiting for a quick moment of action and you can issue positioning instructions to your teammates when there’s nothing going on, but that’s about it. The experience is pretty spot-on, actually.

So each game certainly plays like a realistic soccer match, with plenty of exchanges in possession until you’re able to break into the open and put one in the back of the net. People who find soccer boring may find that this game doesn’t do much to change that opinion, while soccer fans who enjoy all the subtle nuances of on-the-pitch positioning and strategy won’t be disappointed by the game’s representation of the sport. You’ll have to put thought into each match as you’re playing it—holding down the turbo button and hoping for breakaway after breakaway won’t work here.

The game’s overall presentation is a mixed bag. Graphics are great, for the most part, with faithful stadium and player renderings, but the in game commentary from Martin Tyler and Andy Gray is pretty weak. Not only does it sound virtually unchanged from last year, but it’s just kind of dull overall and it gets washed out against the stadium noise. The stadium noise is done well, with plenty of chants and cheering that crescendos into total vocal exuberance with each goal. So there’s that.

All in all, FIFA 11 is a solid upgrade over last year’s effort thanks to the realistic physics, improved graphics, and the new passing system. Career mode could stand to be a bit deeper and the commentary still leaves a lot to be desired, but just about everything else can be seen as a step forward.

Techland Score: 8 out of 10

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