Rutter can't talk for long before coming back to one thing, though: cheap chip shots, which are still a clear thorn in the side of the development team, not to mention anyone who ever tried to take FIFA 09 for a spin online. FIFA 10 made some clear improvements in this regard, but the team still aren't happy with the current system. Their efforts with FIFA 11 appear positive in this 80 per cent complete build: chip shots seem much, much harder to do now, and feel far less cheap when they actually do go in.
Chest traps have also been tweaked, now letting you chest the ball in the direction you want to go rather than the altogether more complicated method of having to do mid-air touches after a chest to change direction. It feels more natural to play, and looks more authentic on the pitch.
And now there's also real, actual 360-degree player control. Wasn't that in FIFA 10? Yes and no, apparently. Yes in that it was, no in that it wasn't as 360-degree as they'd have liked. Which it is now, by the way, having been switched from lateral to full 360 physical interaction. What that means, in case you don't speak developer, is that you can now shield and jostle from behind and fight for possession from every angle. So it's more like football, basically.
With the general bevy of refinements comes a need to rewrite the AI to compensate and incorporate these subtle changes, tweaking the system so the CPU opponents can recognise and react to sophisticated patterns of play. It also seems like the AI is far more likely to deploy skill moves, generally savvy levels of play and, while the lifeblood of FIFA is in playing another human opponent, it should be more than enough to keep most players on their toes.
A competent AI will certainly help FIFA 11's rewritten Career mode, which fills a gap EA Canada has made from scrapping FIFA 10's Be a Pro and Manager modes. Most fans were happy with the career modes in FIFA 10, Rutter stressed, but the development team are adamant to silence the vocal minority, so have developed an entirely new simulation engine for Career mode's behind-the-scenes technical doohickery.
When you do take on other human players, though, there's now the option to import and assign music to specific in-game events - notably crowd chants. This will only work locally (for obvious bandwidth and human decency issues) but will undoubtedly provide all kinds of opportunity for crafty thinkers.
The massive success of FIFA 10 means the series is already riding on an all-time high, and EA is clever enough to know not to fix what certainly isn't broke. There are no sweeping, all-encompassing changes in FIFA 11, then, but instead a series of comprehensive tweaks designed to give the series that extra step, hopefully turning it from flavour of the season into an all-time champion.