I have been following this series since the release of FIFA 2000. After the huge success of FIFA 2010, following quite a few significant developments, I was wondering what was there to be improved! The first thing you would notice about FIFA 11 is that its size is just lower than its predecessor, but considering the fact that the graphics are far better, it’s a great job done by EA.
As an intense follower of the series, I am more accustomed to the classic keyboard controls, which last appeared as default in the 2008 version of the game. The first significant difference is that the controller system is X-Box oriented! It did take some time to figure out the controls, but once you do it, you can easily configure it. Secondly, the in-game controller is inaccessible until the 1.01 patch is up and running.
Moving on from the controls, the first difference one would notice is the opening animation of Kaka going out into the field, which, I admit, is very high quality. Next, you enter the ‘ARENA’. The Arena is the practice mode, which appears before the menu, and you can practice as a player (by default ‘Kaka’, but I recommend changing it to Lampard or Gerrard) one-on-one with the goalie (‘Cech’, which can’t be modified) by default. Any other skills, practice matches and set pieces can also be performed here. The tracks are, as usual, very diverse, but concentrate more on the ‘fun’ part of football!
Considering gameplay, the first significant change from its predecessor is the reappearance of the one-on-one practice of the Arena as the game loads. Once the load is complete, the Arena changes to the stadium where the match is to take place. And then you are ready to start the match. Also, the team reacts much better to custom tactics and change of team mentality. Now, when the match starts, you notice that the opposition is much stronger as compared to FIFA 10. The attackers shoot at the first sight of goal and the defenders are much stronger. These two changes are actually for the better as they make the game even more realistic! Wing play has become very tough in this case; as the full backs run as fast, if not faster, as the wingers. Shooting from the distance has been taken to a new level with an improved finesse shot. The power shot produces great results as well. Blocks by defenders have significantly improved, with sliding tackles in front of shots resulting in the ball being deflected more often than not. Unfortunately, the handball has been removed from this game. In addition to that, the referee gets involved in the play quite often, which at times can be annoying (although the crowd takes your side when this happens). Goalkeepers advance in a much better way in case of emergencies and the number of red cards against goalkeepers has reduced significantly. It does take a few weeks, if not months, to master this game, but once you do so, you will never want to drift back to an earlier version of the game!
Custom celebrations have been introduced in this instalment with many advanced celebrations (my favourite is the dance: On the face!). The commentators are Martin Tyler and Andy Gray. The commentary to spontaneous situations has improved as compared to older versions. The all new manager mode is very tough to master. Consider this: the easiest manager mode in FIFA 11 is tougher than the toughest of FIFA 10! The game dynamics have improved, making tackles and other collisions look stunningly real.
In the final analysis, it can be said that EA has proved me wrong yet again by creating such a game and it rightfully leads the football games in the world!