After a steady rise in quality over the last few years, FIFA 10 added yet more welcome new features and game modes while refining the core gameplay. It’s a tough act to follow for FIFA 11, but thanks to more realistic gameplay, new game modes, and more features, this is the best and most comprehensive FIFA game yet. The main improvements are refinements to the gameplay, rather than revolutionary new game modes as we’ve seen in previous years, but they’re significant enough to make EA Sports’ latest offering well worth the upgrade.
The changes to this year’s game aren’t all immediately apparent, but they are welcome and make the game deeper and more realistic. The biggest change is the physicality between players–whether it’s a winger holding off a defender, or two players tussling in the box, FIFA 11’s players are constantly fighting each other for the ball. This increased tactility has an impact on the gameplay, adding an emphasis on player strength and speed, making player interaction more brutal, and producing some nice touches that add to the realism. For example, if you perform a crunching tackle, the tackler will sportingly tap the downed player on the back as he runs by to collect the ball. There’s also much more variation to the passes and shots; you won’t see the same shots being taken repeatedly, while positioning, footedness, and environmental factors such as rain all have a real and notable impact. Scoring is also more difficult than before; improved goalies are harder to beat than in FIFA 10, and shots, particularly those lobbed over the keeper, are harder to get in the net.
Much more emphasis has also been put on individual players and how they operate within the team, thanks to the new Personality Plus feature. This is a system of attributes that affect players’ skills, from how accurately they pass the ball to how quickly they can control it from the air. Topflight teams boast players with skills across the board, and to get the most from players you need to know how to play to their individual strengths. For example, a player like Wayne Rooney has an inherent ability to score from short range, whereas Steven Gerrard is a much better long-distance shooter. The system works well, and you can feel the difference between players as you control them on the pitch. This personality system also extends to celebrations–you can now hold down the A button to do trademark post-goal dances from famous players, and if you’re online, you can also interact with the goal scorer with new team-based celebrations.