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FIFA Soccer 11


Second Verse, Same as the First
Just a few short months ago, I took a look at the EA soccer title that accompanied the World Cup; 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The game wasnít tremendously different than FIFA 10, but that certainly wasnít a bad mark to the series. FIFA 10 was extremely exceptional and I was pretty enthused to see how EA Canada built the next game in the franchise, FIFA Soccer 11. One of the first steps they took with improving the presentation is added a feature to high-profile players called Personality Plus. Clearly, you need to be a soccer fan and familiar with all the popular players to get the full effect of the personalized animations for the main superstars, but itís a nice touch to give them a bit more authentic feel. The remainder of the presentation is similar to FIFA 10 and captures the essence of what makes the game the most popular sport in the world.



One of the larger changes to the core gameplay is an altered passing system. The passing button can be held down for longer passes down the field. The longer you hold the button, the farther the ball will be kicked to the player furthest down the field. Alternatively, a quick tap of the button will indicate a short pass. Itís difficult to get used to if you have been playing the World Cup title for the past few months. Many times, I found myself holding down the button by accident and losing possession of the ball due to an errant pass. Other than the passing change, the remainder of the control remains the same. You still have the 360 degree control of ball movement as well as the special moves that allow for continued possession down the field.

Thereís a ďnewĒ career mode, but itís really just a hodgepodge of Manager mode and Be a Pro mode. It really doesnít hold a candle to the Football Manager series and the Be a Pro section doesnít even allow you import a player from the previous game. There is an actual new mode called Be a Goalkeeper though and itís dreadfully boring. I canít imagine why EA thought this would be an entertaining inclusion. You spend all of your time standing between the goalposts waiting for something to happen.



The amount of real time statistics has increased during a match. The online modes are unchanged. You can enter into a soccer league or play an entire match with every player controlled by a human player. Granted, if you get stuck with a group of people that all think they are on offense all the time, itís going to make for a lopsided victory for the competition. I played in several matches, both by myself and with friends. The game is lag free, even with a large number of human players in the match.

Graphics

  • There isnít a dramatic amount of change from FIFA 10 (or the World Cup title for that matter), likely because the new physics engine in last yearís game was definitely worth keeping. As mentioned earlier, there are a larger amount of player animations specific to the high profile players, but the lower tier players all pretty much move identically. The game itself is silky smooth and load times seem moderately better. Character models are fluid and crowds are well defined for a Playstation 3 title.

Audio

  • I wasnít a fan of the low-key performance by Martin Tyler in the booth, namely because he canít quite grasp the right energy level for the most dramatic points in the game. Perhaps I got used to the better pairing of Andy and Clive in the World Cup game. Frankly, I was bored by Tyler. The on-field sound effects are solid as usual and the crowd chants are stellar.

Conclusion

While EA Canada threw some new features our way like improved passing, FIFA Soccer 11 felt more like a roster update of the fantastic FIFA 10. That doesnít make FIFA 11 a bad game, just one that hasnít improved greatly over the previous yearís version. If anything, itís the best soccer game available. Is it worth an upgrade if you own FIFA 10? Perhaps if you are dying for a roster update. If you have already been playing the World Cup title released earlier this year, itís hard to justify an upgrade. That being said, any soccer fans new to the FIFA series from EA should pick up FIFA Soccer 11 as itís the best version available.

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