October 13, 2010

Last year, EA scored big with FIFA 10. It was by far the best and most realistic electronic representation of the game of soccer to date. Thus, FIFA 11 had high standards to live up to. It needed to be more realistic and offer more ways of playing than ever before. Luckily, it delivers. 

EA didn’t bother trying to recreate or change what was already a winning formula. This year they focused more on improving the realism and immersion you’ll feel when playing the game. In this, they succeeded. Every animation in the game feels fluid and realistic. The physics are great. Even the animations for the referee and line judges are accurate. I’ve been both a soccer player and a referee, and to get those details right really brings home the realism. Dribbling, shooting, passing, and tackling all feel organic and realistic. None of the animations feel canned, and even after dozens of matches, it still feels like I’m seeing new moves sometimes.

The only real addition to the offline modes is the new career mode. This combines the Be a Pro mode and the Manager mode into a single one where you can choose to be a player, a manager, or both. Whatever you choose, you’ll be given different responsibilities. As a manager, you’ll be tasked with balancing playing time for your existing players while finding new talent to sign and winning as many games as you can. As a player you’ll be faced with either controlling the entire team or just your created player each game. This helps break up the game and allow you to take a break from having to control the strategy of your entire team and just play a single position if you desire. Whichever way you go, you’ll have a great time doing it. Additionally, you can now choose to play as the keeper in any mode, offline or online. While this sounds like it could be a good feature on paper, and while the controls are intuitive and spot on, it tends to be a bit dull, unless your team’s defense is really bad.

Online, the standard modes are all present, but the 10 vs 10 mode has been replaced with an 11 vs 11 mode. In this mode, being the goalkeeper is much more enjoyable because you aren’t stuck playing as the goalie for an entire career. You can switch out to any other position after any game.

Graphically, FIFA 11 looks great. All the player models look fairly accurate, and the crowds and stadiums are very detailed. Surprisingly, the soundtrack for FIFA 11 is one of the best that EA has used in years for a sports game. I’d still recommend using a custom playlist, but it is a lot less dreadful than in years past. The commentators are also top-notch. They have a lot of detailed history for the major soccer clubs and most importantly, they sound natural when delivering their commentary.

As far as extras go, there’s a creation center on FIFA 11’s website that allows you to create custom teams and players and then download to your game. While there is a player creator in the game as well, the online one is more robust and allows greater customization than the in-game one does. Finally, this is another EA Online Pass title, so take that into account if considering a used game purchase.

For fans of real football, this is a great upgrade over last year, and its numerous improvements and tweaks warrant calling it the best soccer game to be released.

Pros: Gameplay is realistic; Animations and fluid and realistic; Career mode is great; 11 vs 11 online play works great

Cons: Soundtrack is better, but still not great


Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.