“FIFA 11” is the newest edition in EA Sports' annual venture into the world of football or soccer or footbag or whatever you call it in your part of the world. In the last generation of consoles, the “FIFA” series was the jock holder for Konami's “Pro Evolution Soccer” series, formerly called “Winning Eleven.” That did not mean that those “FIFA” games were terrible. It was that the “Pro Evolution Soccer” games were just so amazing at the time. In this generation, however, the “FIFA” games have been drastically overhauled and the “Pro Evolution Soccer” games have become as bland and generic as apple pie.
On the pitch, “FIFA 11” is more accurate than any soccer game that I have ever played before. In previous games, players were given canned animations to mimic their movements. In “FIFA 11,” players accurately move like their real counterparts in real-time. It is similar to the new, realistic physics engine used to mimic movement in the recently released, and stellar as always, “NHL 11,” which was created by the same developer, EA Canada.
The basic controls have not changed much over the years. There are advanced controls that allow players to perform crossovers, spin moves and other moves. Player's tendencies and movements are now recreated utilizing full 360-degree dribbling, a first in the series, and Personality+, a system which recreates player's movements and abilities. This allows standout players like the infamous Cristiano Ronaldo to fake dive, flip and spin around his opponents.
Career Mode, “FIFA 11's” new mode that combines the Be a Pro and Manager Mode from “FIFA 10,” allows users to become a player and/or manager for any of the club teams available in the game. To start, users create a player, including their size, weight, position and skill level. Every decision the user chooses will affect the outcome and skill level of the player. During matches, there are tons of challenges to accomplish that will increase the character's stats. For instance, a few of the tests include blocking shots or scoring a goal from over 18 yards away.
Keep playing well or else he will get benched. Once he is benched, he will not play very often, making it very hard to gain a starting position again. When I started playing on the Professional skill level playing for Chelsea, I lost my spot after playing a few friendlies and the first Barclay's Premier League game of the season. My next start was not for a while. It took longer to become eligible for a game than it took for the Grand Canyon to be formed. Eventually, I made a few starts. Against Manchester United on my second match back, I had a 9.5 match rating, one goal and was player of the match, but the e-mail I received after the game from the coach said that even though I was greatest player in the game (Which is an understatement. Chelsea vs. Man U is a slugfest that is always fun to watch.), I still had to ride the bench. To me, if a player did that well against one of the best teams in the world, I am pretty sure that he would be playing more often.
Besides these little things like that, the mode is more engaging than watching Lindsay Lohan's decent from greatness. Another interesting twist in Career Mode is that you can choose to play as the whole team like in a traditional game or choose to play just as your character. Playing just as your character brings more realism to the game. There is an element of strategy involved when playing the game this way. If you know a lot about soccer strategy, you can use this knowledge to exploit other teams and their weaknesses. It is a real treat for the true diehard soccer hooligans who debate whether Lionel Messi or Ronaldo is currently the best player in the world.
Arrows guide the character into the position he is supposed to be in. They are way too small when the camera pans away from the character unless you have the superior vision abilities of Superman. Maybe they should have enlarged the arrows or possibly used a color coded system that changes color when not in the right position possible. Besides that, Career Mode's strategic element is near perfect.
EA Canada is more known for developing the “NHL” series, which does make sense since the land of Tim Horton's donut-eating, low murder-count country is more obsessed with hockey then I am with “King of the Hill.” It is amazing to think thought that a developer from a country where soccer is not even the second most popular sport (Hockey is number one and American football is number two), would be the ideal team to make a game based off the sport. It just shows how endeared soccer is throughout the world and is truly the world's sport. More importantly, it shows how good EA Canada is as a developer.