System: Playstation 3 (also available on Xbox 360, PC, Wii, DS, PS2, PSP, and iOS)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: September 28, 2010
I am a casual FIFA player. I have played a handful of editions over the years, dating all the way back to the Sega Genesis era. While this year’s game, FIFA 12, is set to be released at the end of next month, I decided to take a look at last year’s FIFA 11.
Right away I was impressed with the amount of options available. There’s no doubt about it — FIFA 11 is stacked. Besides the standard exhibition mode (which allows you to play as an individual player or goalkeeper as well), other offline options include Tournaments, Live Season, Lounge, Ultimate Team, and a modified Career mode. The latter two modes are most noteworthy.
Ultimate Team is a unique strategy game in which you can buy/sell/trade player cards in an attempt to build the best possible team. Career mode has merged the staple features “Be a Pro” and “Manager Mode” together, and this time you can select whether to be a player, manager or player-manager. This is where I have spent most of my time with the game, and it is ridiculously in-depth.
Online play is as bountiful as ever, and still has a great deal of players even to this day. Be warned, however, if you plan on buying this game used you will also need to purchase a separate pass if you wish to play online.
The actual on-the-field gameplay is fluid and easy to get the hang of. One thing I noticed right away was how much more physical the style of play is than what I remember. There are a wide variety of tackling animations, and some of the interactions can get downright nasty. Passing is usually pretty solid, although I did have occasional problems with the computer sending the ball to an unintended target. One issue that bothered me was a lack of urgency from my AI teammates. Every now and then, the opponent would lose the ball and I would have a teammate who would be standing nearby completely miss the opportunity to go after the ball and attack. Little quirks like these are not major issues, but they can certainly be annoying when noticeable.
FIFA 11’s presentation is also worth mentioning. The graphics are slick, the animations smooth, and most players match their likenesses visually. Martin Tyler and Andy Grey are reliable on commentary, as always. I was also impressed with the indie-centric soundtrack, which includes the likes of Caribou, Ladytron and The Black Keys. This is more up my alley than the AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne-heavy Madden 11.
For sheer amount of depth and options, FIFA 11 cannot be beat. On top of the game modes/features previously mentioned, the game includes 31 licensed leagues from 24 countries, as well as 39 national teams. With so many teams, players and game modes, it’s difficult to grow tired and/or bored with the game. If some of the on-the-field quibbles were cleaned up, FIFA 11 would be an absolute knockout. As it stands, however, it is pretty damn good but not quite up to the level it can be.