PS3 Review – FIFA 11

A year ago, EA Sports released FIFA ‘10 to receive a staggering amount of interest that can be seen no plainer than in the sales it generated; beating its predecessor by 48%, and racking up an accumulative of over 10 million copies sold worldwide. Now, EA’s most popular sports franchise across the globe returns for its umpteenth installment, FIFA 11. As is the case with each previous titles of the football series, the anticipation for FIFA 11 has easily succeeded its predecessors. All for good reason too: since FIFA 06, EA Sports has managed to ramp up development and the sheer quality of each FIFA title, and the trend has not stopped with FIFA 11. Meeting the lofty expectations set by last year’s installment, as well as exceeding them is no small feat, especially considering the millions of fans worldwide who are all eagerly expecting more. But it seems after countless iterations, EA Sports still has plenty of players ready to lace up their cleats.

FIFA 11 sees the introduction of various new features which takes the game’s authenticity up a notch. These include Personality+, the 360° Fight For Possession inclusion, Career Mode (the replacement for Manager Mode), and the highly anticipated addition of “Be A Goalkeeper”: FIFA 11 has got it all. Creativity and fluency will be noticed right off that bat when you’re rushing through the menus desperate to pick your favorite team, and see how the game plays on the pitch. And the best part? You’re more than likely going to love every last minute of a full 90+ minute football match.

Gameplay has been improved so much that FIFA 10 will quickly fade from your memory, and feel nothing less than clunky in comparison. One of the game’s producers stated the EA Sports team will be adding what they call the Iniesta touch. Technical players are now able to easily get away from an opposing player on the other team via a few quick movements. The new touch sees a quick flick with the analogue stick to instantaneously turn away from defenders; giving immediate satisfaction to the player. It clearly has greatly improved the overall dribbling system from past titles and will certainly make the average player more than content since you’ll be able to ping the ball to a good player while being confident he’ll be able to use his quality to easily go past a player. Some of the world’s best players such as Andres Iniesta, Steven Gerrard, Lionel Messi and many more are shown with their true advantage; having their real skills simulated perfectly in the game.

Another feature which has greatly benefited the game’s overall gameplay is the all-new Personality+ feature. The newly introduced feature takes player authenticity to the next level. It gives FIFA 11 an attribute that sees in-game players’ abilities, as mentioned with the dribbling system above, reflected within the game. Personality+ is valid for every player, for whatever position they play in, and it shows a difference for each player on the pitch. Personality+ has been, literally, integrated everywhere in FIFA 11. A few players who’ll you notice that showcases this new feature is, for example, Steven Gerrard where he’ll deliver pinging balls as well as creating an opportunity from out of nothing. Another notable mention is Didier Drogba who will use his strength to hold off defenders whilst turning to smash a 30 yard stunner into the back of the net. Likewise for defenders, such as Nemanja Vidić who will eagerly anticipate whilst predicting and reacting to the ball once it’s in possession with an opponent. The level of complexity within FIFA 11 sees individuals behave and perform as true players.

Goalkeepers also benefit from Personality+. The real-life individuality of the keeper will ultimately mirror his style in game. Dive attributes will establish the keeper’s ability to reach for further shots and reflex attributes decides the keeper’s reaction times. For example, Liverpool’s Jose Reina will showcase his real life attributes such as punching the ball out of a crowded penalty box. This brings up the new feature in FIFA 11 called Be A Goalkeeper. For the first time in the series players will be able to play as the goalkeeper in multiple modes; an exhibition match, career mode or online. Upon playing as a goalkeeper players will see the game in a third-person view perspective. Goalkeeper specific controls help add the spark to the new feature. Although quite simple, the goalkeeper controls will keep players occupied enough to not get exhausted of the feature. AI goalkeepers, on the other hand, now can perform a variety of saves. Players will see them coming out on various occasions to punch the ball away, and their reflexes take a significant step up from FIFA 10 as well.

Personality+ is a big presence in the new Pro Passing system – specifically designed to get rid of the ‘ping-pong’ passing effect which was in FIFA 10. Ping-pong passing is where players are given the opportunity to pass the ball quickly wherever you’d want it making it too easy for a player to boss the game around without any real skill injected. Pro Passing fixes this and sees the birth of a fantastic new function. The sense of achievement when getting a scoring chance or scoring a goal is a change players will notice due to the Pro Passing system. The new feature gives the player a power bar which represents the pass. For example, if you were to pass around 30 yards to a team mate but the power bar only represented a total of 25 yards then, although the pass can get to the player, it opens up the opportunity to intercept the ball. Cleverly, a HUD element has been integrated where it will show the player how much power would have been necessary to preserve momentum for a better chance the next time around. Another notable improvement, especially with the Pro Passing system, is that you won’t get many chances at first-time passing – it’s more difficult. Instead, taking a slight touch by stopping the ball should give a better outcome then to keep passing it around.

Shooting has never felt more satisfying. Scoring from sharp angles is much easier, realistic spins improve upon the authenticity of the physics of the ball, and it feels that a player can score from a sensible distance. Adding to that are specialist long range shooters (identified by icons on their profile badges), who will shoot the ball with sheer power. Most noticeably may be the smallest of improvements: while soaring towards the goal, the ball arcs down with an appropriate touch of gravity. This gives a greater sense of prediction and adds to the realism FIFA has been building with each installment. Crossing in a ball from corners can be scored via an improved header system. This system sees in-game players reaching back as far as they can to accurately header the ball, as well as out muscling defenders to smash one into the back of the net. Headers now feel much more realistic and satisfying once converting a well-crossed ball to a goal.

Visuals are, once again, stunning. Some of the players’ looks resemble the exact of their real life image and it really shows; gone are the days of guessing if your player really is Allesandro Del Piero, or a similar looking stand-in. Upon scoring, the interactive cutscenes shown are impressive. However, EA Sports have done the celebration system a little different by adding interactive celebration events. After scoring, you’ll have to dodge your own teammates if you want to get around to performing a celebration. If you don’t get out of their away soon enough then you’re treated to a premature celebration and your team mate will wrestle you to the ground, jump over your head and more. Teammates can even grab onto your shirt, but you will be able to sprint free from their grasp, and go on to celebrate. This clever system is bound to cause a ton of good laughs, not to mention sour feelings when you’ve just scored against a friend.  In-game chants and customizable audio are also new features to the series: upload your own music onto your console, and the crowds will sing the way you want them to. Players can also set their team’s entrance music – a welcomed feature indeed.

FIFA 11′s online multiplayer mode sees a slight revamp, too. Electronic Arts has introduced an Online Pass system to enter the online multiplayer mode; these passes comes with a brand-new copy of the game. Alternatively, players can opt for a seven day online trail. One noticeable addition which will relive a lot of gamers is a time limit on the options screen before you go into a match. Before one could spend minutes in the menu so it’s nice to see a restriction put on the time. The inclusion of Be a Goalkeeper makes FIFA 11 the first in the series to allow 11-vs-11 online play. The Be a Pro mode – where players will take control of a single player – will give players the enticing opportunity of going against 11 others online. Global leader boards have also received a nice touch with players being now able to compare several achievements; in total 32 leader boards including who has the longest winning streak as well as who has achieved the fastest goal. A nice addition which may keep you hooked if you want to beat your friends’ score.

EA Sports decided to cut the manager mode – a mode which was riddled with countless bugs in FIFA 10 – and instead, Career Mode has made way. Career Mode essentially combines the Be a Pro and Manager modes into one clever single player experience. You can play the games yourself by creating a pro, jump straight to being a manager or even be a player-manager – there’s a good amount of variety which will be likened by the FIFA faithful largely due to the frustrating Manager Mode in FIFA 10. Something which frustrated (or not) gamers in FIFA 10’s manager mode is you could make transfers for any players from any club. Thankfully, the way to do this has been improved; an improved emailing system helps you keep on top of your transfer activity and negotiating sees you taking the process of talking to the player as well as the club to secure a deal.

The other perceptible additions to FIFA 11 include consist of a new handball mode – although this will be turned off by default. Players can now watch highlights after offline and online matches and also, thankfully, save any chosen highlight such as a 30 yard screamer you scored against your rival online onto your hard drive or upload it onto EA Sports’ website. A new Web-based mode entitled, Creation Centre, will give you the opportunity to build new players and teams. Players can then customize their kit as well as appearance and then play it in the title. You can also share your custom built team online. Finally, during the game’s pre-match loading arena two players can now play together – one being the player and the other being a goalkeeper.

FIFA has, once again, taken a strong leap forward in the form of FIFA 11, with realistic gameplay, dazzling visuals, various new inclusions such as 11-vs-11 online play to name a few. A large portion of FIFA veterans, as well as new players, will undoubtedly be blown away with FIFA 11′s realism and satisfying gameplay; it’s staggering to notice the amount of polish and improvement the latest iteration of FIFA has received, but it’s something you really must experience in order to truly understand. Once you stick FIFA 11 into your console’s disc tray, don’t count on taking it out any time soon, as EA Sports’ latest effort has been magnificently crafted into the best football game in existence.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Much improved gameplay mirrors the real game

Visuals are impressive with only a few minor flaws

Career Mode adds plenty of replayability

10 out of 10