FIFA 11 Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
For the last few years the long running FIFA football videogame series has been top of the pile. The developers of the series really got their act together just as their main rivals have stumbled and failed to take their game forward. In short, most would have expected to see the gap widen even further this year between the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer series. FIFA 11 however, sees the series become a little complacent with not a lot of improvements off the pitch and if anything hardly any progress on it.
The FIFA series has always impressed when it came to content and the whole raft of modes, official leagues and competitions that the game offers. FIFA 11 only disappoints in the sense that it really doesn’t offer much that’s new. There’s the usual Exhibition mode (with the option to play as a goalkeeper), a Career mode (that incorporates the Be a Pro mode and Manager mode from previous games in addition to a Player Manager mode), Tournament mode allows you to play a cup or league tournament in the league of your choice, Live Season mode returns and finally there’s the Lounge mode. Of course there’s the Virtual Pro feature that allows you to create your own player and use him in both single and multiplayer modes.
It’s difficult to put my finger on why exactly but FIFA has barely made any progress at all on the pitch. Whereas PES 2011 has mostly tightened up its game with an improved passing system and generally better AI (aside from the keepers), FIFA 11 hasn’t. The game claims to have something called Personality+ which basically is saying that players will feel different from each other with some being able to pull off shots and moves that they could in real life. Some shots and moves are easier with some players than with others but this is something the Pro Evolution Soccer series has done for years now and it hardly makes much of a difference to the FIFA experience. The physical side of the game seems strange with players falling over far too easy. The ball pings rather oddly at times too when rebounding off players and players fall over each other and seem to lose their footing with the ball far too easily. This is all rather odd because in FIFA 10 and 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa the gameplay felt right for the most part.
Another new feature is the ability to play as the goalkeeper. It works fairly well, mostly using the two analogue sticks, but it’s certainly not an interesting addition and mostly will only try it for the novelty value and probably not bother with it in the long run. The one advantage of the ability to play as a keeper however is that online games can now support up to 11-a-side making the online experience that little bit extra special. The AI keepers here are fine, which is certainly an improvement on this year’s PES title, and the AI in general is OK.
The presentation of the game as a whole is very impressive. Graphically the series has managed to look better each year on the current generation of consoles and FIFA 11 manages to look that little bit better than it did last year. I like the way you can select what highlights to view after a match rather than having to sit through all of them. The menus are practically the same as in recent versions but seeing as there were no real problems with them it’s no surprise that nothing has changed in this respect. With previous titles I complained about the camera panning around the stadium when a substitution is made. It doesn’t do that this year but you get the same few animations of players backpedalling which are just as irritating. The option to turn off these animations and just receive a text notification of the substitutions would certainly be welcome and help the game flow more quickly. The game commentary and the tutorial videos aren’t subtitled. As a result the tutorial videos are useless for deaf gamers. In every other sense however, the game is fine for deaf gamers with all of the crucial information being shown via text, numbers or icons.
The FIFA series has been improving for the last few years and it’s unsurprising that it’s been the best football game during that time. FIFA 11 sees that progress grind to a halt however. There are a couple of improvements here but you do get the feeling that a lot more effort could have gone into making FIFA 11 a better experience. On the whole it’s a game that keeps the FIFA series on top of the table, but only just. PES 2011 plays a more exciting game of virtual football and manages to surpass FIFA 11 in this respect but FIFA 11 has the edge when it comes to the amount of official leagues and the amount of real teams in the game. It also plays an enjoyable game of football but whilst FIFA is still an impressive game, it’s definitely not a benchmark title and I don’t feel as though the series has moved forward this year, which is a little disappointing.