VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 October 2010
Whereas FIFA 10 was something of a 'refinement' for its predecessor, EA's latest outing has taken things to another level as pretty much all the gameplay has seen attention. As a package, FIFA 11 is, in short, the game I've been hoping for for many years. OK - It would be foolish to say its "perfect" (as is done almost every year), but it has taken everything that was great about '10, ditched everything that was annoying (such as the horrible dark menus) and consolidated it into a wonderful package that feels made for the football fan.
[+] New player animations leave behind the robotic feel of past FIFA games, differentiating every aspect of player movement; from jostling with other players, to the way they control balls under different kinds of pressure. Every player appears to have his own unique 'feel' on the ball, from their running style to the way they turn on the spot. You simply have to play it to understand what a more authentic experience this is.
[+] Distribution has been improved dramatically. Making contact with the ball looks more realistic (as is the follow through), but most importantly, the actual action see's the ball move about more life-like with bobbles and bends even on short passes. Whats more, the ball is no longer passed directly to the players feet at the pin-point centre; there is variation in how it travels and where it ends up. This means you can no longer 'ping-pong' the ball - more attention is required to placing passes. Players stretch and even control awkward balls with seemingly real energy. Players can even control the ball into different directions with fantastic variation, meaning one-twos require precision.
[+] Shooting is more challenging, but the new animations allow for more varied ways of placing the ball into the goal without need for additional button-bashing. FIFA 11 has opted that players 'ping' the ball, rather than following through quite slowly as was on FIFA 10. This means you can get shots away quicker, and the kicking styles that go in to the shots are far more lifelike. The chances of ridiculous 45 yard goals are incredibly slim, if that was what your friends had a habit of mastering...
[+/-] FIFA 11 includes a new 'Handball' option that lets you turn this offense either On or Off. It's a fantastic idea and certainly works, but its also certainly not perfect. You can be booked or game play will be stopped for 'Handballs' that are called without even a replay. It does not take into account "ball-to-hand", which is a perfectly legal outcome of real football. This means that if you, say, place a Free-kick into the defending wall, any contact with a hand is deemed a foul, as is bobbling balls during a slide-tackle.
[+] 'Be A Goalkeeper': Certainly not for the faint hearted, but it provides for a very entertaining method of gameplay. This is playable both Online and in its own game-mode.
[-] Slide tackling is so/so, but I imagine practice makes perfect. FIFA 11 has different slide animations depending on your speed, so you don't magically "snap in" even when you're jogging as was the case of FIFA 10. Just be careful of the picky referees, who now even have names.
[+/-] Commentary has been barely updated, but includes some nice new references. Carlos Tevez is also no longer a 'Bulldog' (not surprisingly)
[-] Replays are still the same. In this department, I strongly feel PES has the upper-hand as its replays are simply brilliant - very authentic and, most importantly, at a smooth frame-rate. FIFA's replays and cut scenes are all too often at a slow frame-rate and can stutter quite a lot, whilst not having the same 'broadcast' feel as PES. Time for EA to update.
[+] Career Mode is just wonderful. Completely revamped and offering an unprecedented amount of information about your clubs fortunes; from contact with P.R, to the latest news headlines (fabricated in game). The menus are a slicker, cleaner, and everything is clearer too. In fact, there are simply too many new attributes to list; i'd suggest going to the EA website for all the new information.
[+/-] Custom Soundtracks from your PS3's Hard Drive, though ironically, the one game that finally allows you to play your own music actually has, for the first time since 2003, a listenable built in soundtrack! If you do choose your own music, I would suggest making a new 'Playlist' from the Music section of your XMB menu, then selecting that Playlist in game. Only downside is that you cant control what songs to play when navigating the menus - its pot luck.
[+] Virtual Pro Mode has had further updates, and the new layout of Accomplishments is very nice. Whats more, various Attributes are now available to unlock as you progress, which is enhanced from FIFA 10 as it means you have to work that bit more.
[+] 'Billboard' on the main-menu compares your stats with your friends. This is a fantastic feature if you play regularly with those you know and provides some funny competition as you can scroll across various pieces of information - from your fastest goals, to what Trophies you've recently earned.
The problem each year is that there is simply too much to talk about, and its difficult to do so without waffling on. No doubt future reviews will only back up or add to my thoughts, but as it stands, FIFA 11 is without a doubt the best I've yet to play between 2000 and 2010 (after-all, FIFA '98 was a classic!). It seems to capture the spirit of everything we've come to love from the EA series, and its plainly obvious the people upstairs have listened to everyones feedback, for just about every section of the game will get you thinking how neat an addition it is. Sure, there a few minor niggles and i've only seen a few glitches so far when the loading screen appears before a Match, but these are little things what will no doubt be patched. Whats more, it trumps FIFA 10 in terms of authenticity and feel of gameplay, which no doubt results in a better appreciation when you score good goals.
All I would say on a final note is that the customer shouldn't be fooled into taking 'First Game Perspectives', as the many other number of reviewers have done so here, and often with poor spelling/factual errors. It takes time to adjust to FIFA each year, and '11 is no exception. In an ideal world, the perfect football game would contain elements from both PES and FIFA, but this just isn't going to happen. At least not soon...
Fantastic game at a descent price - worth the upgrade by a mile.