Another year, another FIFA. In fact with the World Cup just past, FIFA fans have had a double serving this time around. But with the World Cup edition receiving some mixed reviews, what have EA got in store for their fans this time?
NZGamer.com were lucky enough to get our mitts on some semi-completed Beta code for FIFA ’11, due out here on the 1 October. With a roster of talented FIFA players on hand here at the office, we were onto it quicker than Lionel Messi on speed.
EA have packed in a decent amount of new features for the 2011 instalment, most of which are welcomed enhancements such as something called ‘Personality+’. This new feature emphasises well-known footballers and makes them play and behave more like their real-life counterparts on the pitch. For example Cristiano Ronaldo will have fast strides with great ball control down the wing with an uncanny knack for picking out a great cross. Didier Drogba will have superior upper body attributes that let him mash his way through defenders and fire a rocket towards the back of the net. Manny Muscat will usually loose his temper and get a yellow card in the first half and so on.
The Personality+ affects most players across all positions, with the end result making team dynamics more authentic and players more valuable when used correctly. Even goalkeepers are affected by these new personality traits with some having better reflexes or a more acrobatic flair to their saves.
On a similar note, those mad players who always wanted to don a pair of gloves and try their hand at goalkeeping will be pleased to hear that FIFA ’11 includes the all new “Be a Goalkeeper” mode. Just like the “Be a Pro” mode where players take up one position and play through as a single man for their squad, “Be a Goalkeeper” lets you fill the number one spot between the sticks. You’ll need to dive to make saves, command against corners and be the hero for a match-deciding penalty. Having a fully human goalkeeper also opens up the doors for an intense 11 on 11 multiplayer match too, where every man on the field is a man (or woman) in front of their console. They say you have to be pretty nuts to want to be in the firing line as a goalkeeper, but it’s great to see FIFA ’11 catering for everyone this time around. I am concerned about some people getting bored playing as the keeper and attempting a full-pitch run with the ball, though.
FIFA ’11 has also put a great focus on customisation this time around. Player celebrations seem to be more polished and now finally include routines that involve other teammates on the pitch. Long gone are the days where you would charge around the field doing triple fist-pumps and cartwheels while everyone just watches you aimlessly. I’m pretty certain we saw Paul Ifill pile-drive one of his team-mates in a celebration gone wrong at one point. But to see some “human” behaviour amongst your players was a welcome addition and fans of the game will find plenty of new celebrations to try out here.
The customisation expands onto other areas too, such as letting you select your own music soundtrack from your music library, adding your own chants and anthems and creating custom kits and crests for fictitious teams.
However as a long time FIFA veteran, there were some annoying changes to last year’s near-perfect release. The main one is definitely the penalty taking dynamics, which have been handed down by EA’s World Cup South Africa edition. With a twitchy control system and the see-saw power and accuracy meter, the end result made it seem like a bus was parked in front of goal. At one point, with four of us playing we managed to go eight penalty shots before we finally got one into the back of the old onion bag. Perhaps with enough practice and shedding tears we could improve on penalty shots – but what was wrong with the old system?
The other gameplay issues might be due to the fact that the Beta code we had was only 95% complete. It also shipped with an impressive five page list of known problems and bugs, so EA are well aware of the tweaks that are needed before the final release. But I am still wary of issues with the passing (the strength of the passes seems too random) turning on the ball (even Wayne Rooney looks sluggish when switching direction with the ball at his feet) and keeping the ball below the cross-bar when shooting seems to be a difficult task as well. Of course NZGamer.com will let you know if these have been remedied when the full game comes out in a couple of weeks. Keep it locked in here for the full review on launch.