The final big addition is the ability to play as the goalkeeper. I've discussed this in more detail elsewhere, but essentially it plays more or less how you probably expect it will. It's quite a lonely way to play FIFA 11, but with position just as essential as reflexes it requires an awful lot of concentration. It also allows FIFA 11 to offer something the series has never managed before: 11-vs-11 online play. By making use of the Be a Pro mode, a series staple in which you take control of a single player for the duration of a match, you and ten others can take on another set of 11 real people
These large online matches are something that I personally couldn't get into when it was 10-vs-10, so 11-vs-11 doesn't do anything for me, but the option is there for anyone who wants it - as is the ability to set up a Pro Club that can compete in monthly cup competitions. If these big matches aren't your thing you can also create a new player and work through a 15-season career, attempting to become a superstar of the game. Player manager and straight up management modes are also available, and you can play or simulate the match results depending on your mood.
As has been the case for a while, the career mode allows you to make some unbelievable transfers, the likes of which your club would likely never manage in real life. Spurs somehow start with a tonne of cash, so I was able to buy a handful of world class players to add to the existing squad. Negotiating has been improved, so you now have to talk to the club and the player to secure a deal, while the tweaked email system makes it easy to keep on top of your dealings. A good squad is essential if you're going to compete, because players will tire if you play them too often. If you're bringing in unknown 18-year-olds when your star players are sitting on the bench, you're going to end up languishing in mid-table mediocrity.
Other additions don't really affect the on-pitch gameplay, but do enhance the customisation options and community feel. The web-based Creation Centre lets you build new players and teams, customise their appearance and kit, and then share it with the FIFA-playing world. You can also make your own unique chants that can be heard in the terraces, but - no doubt due to online safety - these can't be heard when you play other people from around the world.
As well as being able to compete head to head with friends, online or locally on the same console, global leaderboards let you compare you achievements. 32 leaderboards let you see who's scored the fastest goal, the largest win streak, the furthest goal and more. While on the face of it these leaderboards might seem like a gimmicky extra, it's surprising how long I spent in the training arena trying to score goals from an ever increasing distance, such is the draw of trying to outdo your friends.
FIFA is still a fine looking sports game, which when viewed from any of the distant views looks as close to real football as I've ever seen, but the player likenesses are once again extremely varied in terms of accuracy - and there's definitely a portion of the roster that look downright ugly. Given how long the FIFA series has been running on this engine I'd have liked the majority of regular top league players to closely resemble their real life counterparts, but that sadly still isn't the case. Some players, like Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone, are modelled well in terms of body shape, but the face is way off the mark, while the even less fortunate have the right hair colour and that's about it.
Audio around the stadiums is uniformly excellent, with chants and general crowd noise really immersing you into the action, but the commentary still has issues being relevant to what's going on. It's still about the best I've heard in a football game, but I wish the dev team would iron out the annoying comments, such as "he should have scored" after you've just attempted a volley from about 40 yards. It also has a tendency to slip behind the action too often, with the commentators still talking about a clearance as the other team has broken up the pitch and is about to score.
You could argue that FIFA 11 doesn't do enough to warrant a purchase if you already own FIFA 10, but small changes on paper have made for some significant differences on the pitch. FIFA 11 feels far more realistic than its predecessor, while also packing in a smattering of new features. Yes, you could get by with last year's game, but you will be missing out on what will probably be the best sports game of 2010.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- From distance it looks incredible
- 11-vs-11 is there if you want it
- Most realistic FIFA yet
- Some players are ugly