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Cian Hassett
02 Oct, 2010

FIFA 11 Review

360 Review | Here we go again.
Each passing year brings gamers a number of different rivalries, but none of them come close to matching the battle that takes place around a little leather ball. We're talking about the clash of FIFA and Pro Evolution Football, and no that wasn't a typo. In typical EA fashion, FIFA 11 is the first contestant to try and impress the judges after a disappointing outing last year. Even though the franchise managed to claim the crown back in 2007, it's fair to say that the last great football game was FIFA 09. Twenty-two tiny men graced our screens and provided some brilliantly balanced gameplay, while Mr. Seabass was left mulling over what went wrong. The past twelve months really didn't offer a proper football experience, but it's time to see what's available for the upcoming season.

Let's start with the positives, FIFA 11 looks absolutely stunning. Unlike the blurry mud-filled pitches of last year, everything is far more crisp and vibrant. Each stadium had been recreated with the finest attention to detail, although the crowds could do with a bit more polish. The stars of the footballing world look incredibly lifelike, and with the new 'Personality Pro' feature, they move in a realistic manner. The details continue to amaze when you peer closely, and even though the screenshots are slightly exaggerated, the facial expressions and subtle movements of clothing raise the bar for sports games. FIFA 11 is untouchable in terms of licensing, so you're going to find every official player, kit and sponsor from almost every league in the world. The crowds roar and it's genuinely the closest representation of the beautiful game ever released. Martin Tyler and Andy Gray return with the same commentary from last year, the majority of which is unchanged but the guys have started talking about referees a bit more. There's also a wide range of music, but you can import your own songs and for the first time ever - chants. Unfortunately you can't record vulgar bursts of rage from the microphone, so the likelihood of people using the feature is slim.

London's best in action.

London's best in action.
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The control scheme for FIFA titles has remained largely the same in recent years, so FIFA 11 doesn't fix what isn't broken. New additions that were introduced in 2010 FIFA World Cup make their comeback here; the two button layout and a revamped penalty kick system. The former is an attempt to lure the rest of your family into a fairly simulation based game. Apart from movement, players will only need to pass and shoot. FIFA 11 removes detailed decision making, so depending on the situation, it will determine if a pass should be long or short, high or low and so on and so forth. The new penalties have received a little bit of backlash, but they're more forgiving than what first impressions suggest. Players have more options than ever before, so you can choose to drill the ball into the net or stop mid-run and change direction. Veterans will already be familiar with the more complex controls which give you complete freedom across the pitch. The only minor complaint is that tricks are still too difficult to perform and are largely useless if you're not specific enough, but that's more a case of skill rather than the fault of the developer. You'll also be given the chance to perform co-operative celebrations, ranging anywhere from modest to ridiculous, but these are all welcome additions to the series.

By far the most improved aspect of FIFA 11 arrives in the form of crucial changes to the actual gameplay. Physical battles feel more natural than ever before, and slide tackling doesn't necessarily result in giving away a free kick. Passing has been made more difficult with the introduction of a proper power bar. If your team mate is further away, you're going to need to hold down the pass button longer. Pretty simple. It means that the outrageously quick passing of FIFA 10 is no longer an issue, and build-up play requires patience and precision. The most rewarding part of the game comes from counter attacking; players gain pace over distance and won't be able to hit full speed instantly. This means that breaking out of defence and spreading play to the wings allows for your attacker to sprint past a defender in disarray. All of these minor refinements mean that the gameplay in FIFA 11 is the most balanced and realistic yet, a far cry from the arcade matches witnessed last year. The goalkeeper, often labelled as the idiot between the sticks, seems have taken some lessons off Oliver Kahn. He won't automatically rush out at an incoming player, instead he'll stand firm and try to narrow the angle. It takes a lot of frustration out of defending, but unfortunately, that's where the positives end.

Watch the bounce!

Watch the bounce!
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When FIFA 10 was released last year, it was filled with bugs and a broken online system. One would think that developers might learn from their mistakes, but no... not quite. Trying to bring FIFA 11 online is an equally horrid experience. If you buy a new copy of the game, you'll be given an online access code, otherwise you have to pay 800 MSP (AU$10) after a seven day free trial. Technically this shouldn't be an issue, and while this won't affect everyone, our code was rejected after multiple attempts and variations. That leads onto the problematic matchmaking system, so problematic that it's barely functional. North America received the game two days before us, and by the time the rest of the world was playing, the servers were still atrocious. Head to head matches were eventually fixed but after playing just one game, we were disconnected from the EA servers. Trying to play with friends is even worse; quick search never finds a lobby and the only way to create one is by doing a custom search with silly requirements in order to be prompted into starting your own lobby. Another major issue with team play is that the game ends after ninety minutes, extra time still hasn't been integrated for some bizarre reason. The only praiseworthy element of the few online matches that we were able to play, is that games generally run quite smoothly, although it was impossible to judge if the game can really handle a lobby of twenty-two players. Virtual Pros are also back with the same accomplishments needed to upgrade certain statistics, but neither the Pro Ranked games nor the much loved Pro Clubs were working. Apparently over six million online games were played in two days, but they certainly weren't played in Australia and definitely not on the Xbox 360 version.

Annual upgrades of FIFA usually bring a host of new features, but not this time. Career Mode has been branded as a new addition to the series, but it's nothing more than a combination of the Be A Pro and Manager modes. You can start off as a player before climbing up the ranks to legendary status, and finally become a manager. You're going to get the same plethora of options to customise your team, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before. The only genuine new feature is the ability to control the goalkeeper, and while it has been done well, it gets very boring very quickly. More problems from FIFA 10 have made their way over to FIFA 11 also; the most annoying of which are the menus. They're presented with your standard EA panache, but they're simply not functional. It tends to run reasonably well offline until you need to simulate games, a process that takes far too long. The most atrocious part of the menu system, again, is a result of FIFA 11's broken online service. Every night since release day, the game menus have frozen at least once when trying to connect online, and the only way of escaping is to reboot the game - all because of the sluggish EA servers that can't seem to cope with even the smallest number of players. Considering that all of the issues were present in FIFA 10, it is completely unacceptable for a major sports game to be released like this.

Float like a butterfly, sting like one of the most under-rated midfielders in the world.

Float like a butterfly, sting like one of the most under-rated midfielders in the world.
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It's quite possible that these problems are only evident in the Xbox 360 version, and they will eventually be solved whenever EA decides to release a patch. At the same time, we shouldn't have to deal with this sort of rushed garbage... again. If it means delaying the release date by a week or two, then so be it. FIFA has already won over the masses so there's no fear of the game not making a profit. Imagine if Activision released Modern Warfare 2 with a matchmaking system that didn't work, would the community accept it? Of course they wouldn't, and football fans shouldn't be forced into dealing with basic problems that were supposed to have been fixed over the past twelve months. If multiplayer isn't a concern for you, then expect to be playing this for months. For purists, it's another frustrating FIFA game, but one that offers an unbeatable footballing experience. EA needs to learn a lesson, and hopefully when FIFA 12 arrives, the overall package is more streamlined.

By the time you read this review, EA might have already fixed the multiple functional problems with FIFA 11. However, it doesn't mean that the hardcore fans will forget about what happened. For the past two years, FIFA has been released in a broken state, and that's unforgivable. We're not asking for much, we just want the simple things to work. Putting something on the shelf with limited new features and a core element of the game unplayable should never happen. It's a great shame because the gameplay is absolutely tremendous, and in that respect, it's still a must-buy for fans. If the matchmaking wasn't a total farce, then we would have been looking at a much higher score. So what's the moral of the story kids? If a game isn't ready, don't release it. Sooner or later, FIFA needs to make another giant leap - but it hasn't happened this year.
The Score
FIFA 11 is still the best football game available right now, but it should have been so much better.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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36 Comments
3 years ago
Wow, you say its the best Football at the moment, yet only give it a 7.5????

As for the online. I have it on PS3 and have had no problems at all with connecting and playing online.

I'm really enjoying the game and love creating teams and some awesome uniforms.

The gameplay is pretty solid, but it does feel abit sluggish and slow, compared to Fifa 10 and the penalty system is terrible.
3 years ago
ANDYBALLINA wrote
Wow, you say its the best Football at the moment, yet only give it a 7.5????
Since when has 7.5 been a bad score?
3 years ago
You still made a big statement by saying is the best football at the moment ...

Hmm.... Will see if you can substantiate this comment next week Cian.
3 years ago
rarecube wrote
You still mad a big statement by saying is the best football at the moment ...

Hmm.... Will see if you can substantiate this comment next week Cian.
It's not a big statement when Pure Football and PES are the only ones offering any challenge. And what do you mean by next week?
3 years ago
Cian wrote
ANDYBALLINA wrote
Wow, you say its the best Football at the moment, yet only give it a 7.5????
Since when has 7.5 been a bad score?
It's not a bad score, but its kinda leaning towards an average score. Considering you say its the best football game, I would have expectated a higher score.

I would give it an 8.5-9 score.
3 years ago
ANDYBALLINA wrote
It's not a bad score, but its kinda leaning towards an average score.
The 'average' on Palgn is 5, not 7 like everywhere else. So 7.5 is right in the middle of average and brilliant. I think that's a pretty good score.

As stated in the scoring guide:

Palgn wrote
7½ – 8
Well above average. Games of these scores or above would be described as 'great' by most gamers. Games that are so good it will be worth going back to play them years later. They will only be brought down by a few minor flaws, or one slightly larger flaw.
So yeah, 7.5 is a perfectly good score.
3 years ago
I can only talk about the 360 version Andy, like I said in the text, I don't know if the PS3 version suffers from the same issues.

As far as the score is concerned, 7.5 is described as 'well above average', and I'd also like to bring your attention to my comment in the final paragraph...
3 years ago
Cian wrote
rarecube wrote
You still mad a big statement by saying is the best football at the moment ...

Hmm.... Will see if you can substantiate this comment next week Cian.
It's not a big statement when Pure Football and PES are the only ones offering any challenge. And what do you mean by next week?
PES 2011 is getting released on Friday .
In my humble opinion a better game overall.
3 years ago
rarecube wrote
PES 2011 is getting released on Friday .
In my humble opinion a better game overall.
I was a PES addict for many years and I'd love to see it return to form. But ever since 2007, the game has been in disarray. I played the demo and was totally unimpressed, it's an improvement, but it's still not enough.
3 years ago
The PALGN average is 5? I don't think so Andrew. icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
The PALGN average is 5? I don't think so Andrew. Denny's average is about 8 alone. icon_smile.gif
Let me rephrase it for you. The Palgn score for an average game is 5.

Better?
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
The PALGN average is 5? I don't think so Andrew. Denny's average is about 8 alone. icon_smile.gif
That's because Denny gets all the good stuff icon_wink.gif
3 years ago
ANDYBALLINA wrote
Wow, you say its the best Football at the moment, yet only give it a 7.5????
I think the score might also reflect how little has changed in the game since FIFA 10. I think EA might be slipping into a mentality of every second year putting in some decent dev time.

In saying that I am looking forward to FIFA 12 and ill pass on this one.
3 years ago
You mentioned that your online code didn't work at first, I bought mine new and sealed at launch and it keeps on telling me it is invalid, I was wondering if you'd know how to fix this, my online trial only has a couple days left ):
3 years ago
I'm going to contact EA tonight, send them an e-mail or something.
3 years ago
My unlock code worked fine, and I've found the online to be a far less laggy affair.
The gameplay itself feels very familiar but incredibly refined, the additional animations make it the best FIFA game of all time.
3 years ago
Ouch, I thought Fifa 10 received an unjustified branding here, and in the opening lines too...hate to admit it but you lost me there.

Unless the X360 releases are miles behind the PS3 releases of both games, I can't help but feel this review is not for me. So much emphasis in the review (and presumably its score) was spent on online shenanigans that seem largely isolated experiences, and particularly not applicable to the PS3, either.

Unexpected, really. Nothing wrong with your X360 heavy perspective or your writing Cian, but I would have hoped to have a more balanced review of such a big release here on PALGN.
3 years ago
Windburn wrote
Ouch, I thought Fifa 10 received an unjustified branding here, and in the opening lines too...hate to admit it but you lost me there.

Unless the X360 releases are miles behind the PS3 releases of both games, I can't help but feel this review is not for me. So much emphasis in the review (and presumably its score) was spent on online shenanigans that seem largely isolated experiences, and particularly not applicable to the PS3, either.

Unexpected, really. Nothing wrong with your X360 heavy perspective or your writing Cian, but I would have hoped to have a more balanced review of such a big release here on PALGN.
Couldn't agree with you more. Considering the online side of the game is just one part of the overall experience, but yet it's focused on so much.

Also the new Creation Centre wasn't even mentioned in the review and its a huge additional to the series and it's done extremely well.
3 years ago
Windburn wrote
Ouch, I thought Fifa 10 received an unjustified branding here, and in the opening lines too...hate to admit it but you lost me there...
The problems with FIFA 10 weren't obvious from the beginning, and I was mainly referring to the online portion of the game which became very arcade orientated because of the unbalanced Virtual Pro system. Goalkeepers were the worst seen in years, for some reason the were all 5'5 in Club games and there was never enough time to stop him from rushing out to the ball. I've never seen so many lobbed goals in my life.

Maybe I should clarify something, this is an Xbox 360 review and PS3 owners should be aware of that. I mentioned it in the text, I don't know how the PS3 version runs online, I can only give you my opinion on what I've played... And I've played a lot of FIFA. My experiences certainly aren't isolated, I have a large group of friends on Xbox Live who are complaining about the same things (which are slowly being fixed). I was going to hold back on the review until EA sorted out all of the bugs, but I felt that would be too kind and who knows how long it would take. My review is based on the game that was made available on release day for Xbox 360 owners, and mainly people who would be seen as 'hardcore' fans. I'm one of them, and I'll still be playing FIFA 11 until next September, but EA need a kick up the arse. Other reviews that I've read simply brush the surface and are largely based on offline gameplay, I'd like to think my perspective is slightly more in-depth.

@ANDY: Creation centre was made available last month and really isn't anything to get too excited about. If you're going to buy FIFA 11 for anything , then it has to be the gameplay, because it's fantastic.
3 years ago
Cian wrote
@ANDY: Creation centre was made available last month and really isn't anything to get too excited about. If you're going to buy FIFA 11 for anything , then it has to be the gameplay, because it's fantastic.
Ok, but its still something new to this years release and its great they bought back this sort of customisation back to the series (since Fifa 2005 there hasn't been anything like this) and its the main reason I upgraded to Fifa 11. I think its a shame you never talked about in the review, as it is a new feature and one that alot of people may like, cause customisation in games is a good thing.

I understand you have only been able to play it on 360 and its a shame that the online is broken and I wonder why it is, cause its fine on PS3. It's strange that EA can't get all platform's the same.
3 years ago
Have played PES2011 and FIFA 11 demos and clearly FIFA has most advantages over PES as been the case this gen.

However FIFA still lacks player and team individuality and fun factor PES has always had.

When playing and winning against Barca towards the end of the match you clearly see Pique pushing further up field and deployed as an extra forward just like in real life. If playing against Baryen in similar situations instead they sacrifice mids or defenders and put more attackers.

FIFA teams play the same way unfortunately and players still lack more uniqueness other than pace.

FIFA is better online, PES better offline.
3 years ago
I only play fifa offline with my brother so I don't care about online. Good news for me then
3 years ago
The online in Fifa 10 was bugged to all hell on release also. Eventually they fixed it, but Cian's right. EA need a good kick up the arse. It always feels like they are holding something back for next years installment. They know what the game needs, but can't implement all the changes at once because what'd they do for next year? Playability wise the game feels superior to Fifa 10. It's more of a refinement than sweeping changes though.
The online codes are case sensitive I believe. I had no problems first try with the code.
3 years ago
Full caps, no spaces - that's what works for most people. Not for me though.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  30/09/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Sports
Year Made:
  2010

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