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FIFA 11 Hands On

On Friday I went to EA’s UK office to get all close and personal with FIFA 11 ahead of it’s Autumn release. I played the E3 build, which just like in LA was held behind closed doors with no photography or filming allowed. I can however tell you how it plays and what I thought of it I shall do that now, in great depth.

First impressions first is that the game feels slower, especially when compared to the recent World Cup title. Players need more time to control the ball and play an effective pass so there is no more “ping pong passing” out of defense with more skill and care needed to progress up the pitch. It also takes longer to shoot with players needing to size up the angles and adjust their feet to strike the ball. Long balls can still be difficult to play especially ones that your teammate can run onto, they usually go have to wait for the ball to come to them rather than meet it. This is also apparent when crossing with players standing still and waiting for the ball including the keepers.

Defending feels controllable with the best defenses not split by a through ball so easily and forwards being too powerful to force off the ball. Good defenders now have a larger area with which they are able to tackle in compared to lesser defenders who would struggle to win the ball against advanced strikers. There is also a new symbol when you secondary press the ball showing which player is responding to your command.
Goalkeepers are much improved showing some good athletic saves and higher skilled keepers can even change their body shape when diving the wrong way to still pull off the save. Like in 2010 FIFA World Cup they don’t rush off their line anymore making them less susceptible to being lobbed although it’s not impossible as I still managed to do it. Unfortunately they still often let deflected shots roll wide for a corner instead of gathering them up when they are right next to the goal, slowly rolling past.

Free kicks have seen a little change with the power bar hidden in multiplayer so you can’t tell how hard your opponent will take their free kick and they are a lot harder to score compared to the ease of FIFA 10. You are limited in terms of options when taking a free kick, you still can’t kick it backwards or loft a long ball into the penalty area with any real conviction for your big men to head either and you still have trouble playing a short ball in multiplayer games without giving it away. The power bar is also hidden when taking free kicks in multi player although in local multi play it made them harder! The penalties from the World Cup have been retained, a more than welcome addition as I thought it brought a new found skill to penalties and a reasonable margin for error so it’s great to see them present.

The big improvement this year of course is the Personality+ which aims to add variety to different players on the pitch so Messi will be able to run with the ball better and Xavi will continue to never play a misplaced pass. It doesn’t just stop at attributes though as Peter Crouch is now massively tall and thin whilst Tevez is shorter than most but stocky. It works brilliantly, you can really tell if your centre back is Lucio or Sol Campbell by how well they control the ball. It even means that the AI can even do skill moves on you, which came as quite a surprise when I thought I was comfortable with Adebayor in possession when he suddenly spun round with the ball past my defender and scored! Personality+ even comes into play off the ball with player work rates for example; Rooney will track back with pace whilst Berbatov will continue to stroll around not doing much…

The celebrations have been given an overhaul since the ludicrous break dancing of the world cup and there are now player specific moves which are accessed by a universal command. Along with the new moves is a new camera angle which is much more realistic and closer to the players. The teammates that join in are also geographically correct so no more centre backs celebrating with you’re striker who just scored a break away goal.

Considering how early FIFA 11 is in development it’s impressive to see the changes made and how already it plays a superior game of football compared to FIFA 10 and the World Cup games. Unfortunately I can’t talk to about any new teams/leagues or game modes but I will make sure to announce them on here as soon as I can, the trophies do look easier to obtain though with play 100 games online replacing the 100 wins from FIFA 10. So FIFA 11 has more in common with FIFA 10 rather than the more recent World Cup game but its a good thing, the speed of the game is pretty much perfect and has EA definitely nailed the core of the game already its just enhancing and fine tuning that’s needed to create another fantastic entry in the FIFA series.