Review: FIFA Soccer 11 (PS3)

Title: FIFA Soccer 11
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Electronic Arts, Inc.
Developer: EA Canada
Price: $59.99

Gameplay:
Less a revolution in the series than an evolution, FIFA Soccer 11 takes last year’s 360 degree Dribbling and expands upon it with 360 degree Fight for Possession. The pushing and shoving while trying to maintain possession of the ball really helps to immerse you in the urgency of the moment as players challenge each other. Bigger players will be able to knock smaller players off the ball more easily and players tend to use their arms a lot more aggressively as they fight for possession.  This also plays into one of the other new additions to the game, Personality Plus.  Taking the tendencies of real life players into account, Personality Plus evaluates over 36 attributes and 57 traits which were compiled by over 1700 scouts according to EA.    Does it live up to that? It’s hard to say.  I certainly don’t have an intimate knowledge of all the players in the European or South American leagues, but I do know players like Rooney and I can say with confidence that there’s a very different feel when he has the ball versus other players on Manchester United.  For the casual soccer fan, it’s probably not that noticeable but for the hard core, this could be a great step forward.

The next big addition is the Be a Goalkeeper mode which is the next step in Be a Pro. This is something that’s been in the NHL franchise for the past three years and EA Canada has made some great refinements in that game. I was initially down on this implementation, but as I’ve given it more time, I’ve actually come to enjoy it. You certainly don’t have the control that you have in NHL 11. Really all you have to do here is get your keeper in front of the ball and he’ll automatically dive punch and slide for you, but it’s a good first step. While you’ll face far fewer shots in a typical soccer match than a hockey game, that only serves to raise the stakes as each crossing pass in front of your net becomes critical. Fortunately, when the play is up field, you can hit the Select button to zoom the camera in on the action. You even have the ability to indirectly influence the play up the field with a few button presses. It helps break up what could have been a deadly boring game mode. One cool thing this does open up however is the ability to play full eleven on eleven matches online. Getting together ten of your friends and storming through an online league with everyone playing a set position is a pretty awesome prospect.

For customization fans, EA has you covered this year with the Creation Centre. Similar to the Team Builder functionality in NCAA Football, the Creation Centre is an online destination where you can build a team from the ground up. Fully customize every player on your team from their kit to their personality and physical appearance. You can pick your team colors, logos, design home and away uniforms, your stadium and even play formations and styles. When everything is set to your liking, you can import your team into FIFA 11 and use them online, in Tournaments and Kick-Off Matches and even make them available or others to download and tweak to their liking. All in all it’s a fairly robust creation system that will allow you to field your true dream team.

The Career mode has also been revamped to include both the Player and Manager elements merging them into one. Now you can create a player that will evolve over time into a player-manager and eventually just a manager. It’s another interesting twist on historically distinct game modes and while it won’t be to everyone’s liking, I think it’s a pretty cool idea and it seems to work well.

Visuals:
FIFA Soccer 11 is definitely a good looking game. The players move and break on the pitch in a realistic manner while goalkeepers will challenge shooters diving and attacking when necessary. The crowds, while not too detailed, offer enough movement and variety to make you feel like you’re in a packed stadium. The weather effects are a bit lackluster however. Sunny and even overcast days look great, casting the right shadows on worn down turf in some of the stadiums. The rain however is kinda hit or miss, mostly miss. Going with the default broadcast camera angle leaves the rain looking terrible. Sparse streaks of rain fall as you play and it’s more distracting than not simply because of how bad it looks. Other camera angles however look much better in the rain. It’s something I wish they had spent a little more time on. While they could have done with more stadiums for a bit more variety especially considering the sheer volume of teams available it’s certainly not a deal breaker.  All the screenshots used in this review, including the one for the banner, were taken using the in-game replay and picture feature.

Audio:
Everything you’d expect at a soccer match is here and it’s all reproduced with nice fidelity. You can hear the ball coming off your foot as you dribble down field, the thunk of a ball of the goal post, the swoosh across the back of the net, it all sounds great. Crowds will cheer, chant and sing throughout the game, their volume rising and falling with the ebb and flow of the game. It all works well in making you feel like you’re at a real soccer match.

Online/Multiplayer:
Along with standard online modes, there’s some cool leaderboard functionality giving you the ability to compare stats with all your friends. The big change however is the ability to play full 11 on 11 matches. With the right group of friends, this could be one of the best online modes in any sports game.

Conclusion:
FIFA Soccer 11 is more than just an incremental upgrade. It’s not a complete overhaul, but there’s definitely enough here to warrant a serious look for the casual soccer fan. There’s still some work to be done with a lot of the new features that have been added but it is once again the best soccer game on the market.

Score:
9.0

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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