Fifa 2011

Like the approaching winter, the student overdraft and the rise in tuition fees, there’s no escaping Fifa. The footballing juggernaut, which has confidently overshadowed _Pro Evolution Soccer_ for the past couple of years is back – but is it worth shelling out another £40 for?
The short answer? If you have _Fifa 10_, no. _Fifa 11_ doesn’t have enough improvements to merit your cash (and, particularly if you are a student, there probably isn’t much of that about).
If you have any older versions of Fifa however, then the answer is a definite yes. You won’t feel that it’s Fifa 10.2, or that the ‘Be A Pro: Goalkeeper’ mode is a complete and utter waste of a poor game designer’s year. But on to that later.

One of the most important things to say about this game, however much I criticise it, is that _Fifa 11_ is the best football game ever. The 360-degree dribbling, introduced in last year’s edition, with a better passing system and the new ‘Personality Plus’ mechanic brings the game alive. Whether you are new to the series, or a veteran who can thump most of the online community 5-0, there will be many times during the game when you will think ‘Wow’. ‘Personality Plus’, gives players attributes that are like their real life counterparts, so Drogba fights his way through every defender known to man whilst Ronaldo seems quicker on the ball than Usain Bolt in the 100m.

Virtual Pro is as addictive as ever, allowing you to place yourself in the game and become the worlds’ greatest footballer. You can even download your face into the game. Whilst it’s impressive that you can play alongside Rooney, the fine-tuning of his face against the computer generated 3D effect of yours doesn’t really stack up. Unless you get the skin tone exact in the online creation portal and the game, it just looks like a mask. Even Ronaldinho comes across as better looking in comparison.

So what is it about this game that frustrates me? It plays like a dream, has amazing graphics, awesome commentary and is polished to the highest degree. I think my problem with _Fifa 11_ is not confined to the game, but EA Sports themselves. On every single menu are bright red letters spelling out ‘NEW’, constantly reminding you of the minute changes that have been brought in since Fifa 10. ‘Career Mode’ is described as one of these ‘NEW’ features but in reality it’s Be A Pro, Manager and Player-Manager modes combined into one, ridiculously long and uninspiring career. It just can’t compete with Pro Evolution Soccer’s ‘Master League’ and as a result feels disappointing for something EA considers as ‘new’.

The new ‘Be a Pro: Goalkeeper’ mode is fun for a few minutes but after that a massive bore. It seems that EA Sports have recognised this, adding the option to watch the other players on the field with the Back button and shout commands at them. Which is as much fun as it sounds. The lack of football you experience as a goalkeeper makes the experience a giant waste of time. Yes, it allows the option of true 11v11 online matches, but I can’t imagine that anyone would seriously want to be the keeper (unless they want to try and score a goal with Cech and lose the game for everyone else).

On top of that, EA Sports are now trying to wipe out the second hand gaming market with the inclusion of an ‘Online Pass’, which allows you to access ‘all online matchmaking features’ and take part in 11v11 games over Xbox Live. What makes this ‘Pass’ ridiculous is that once the code is entered, any new owner of the same disc has to buy a pass from EA Sports, effectively creating a strangle-hold on gamers wishing to buy the game second hand. I could understand if it were a game that came out every few years, but for a series that is refreshed every 12 months, it seems a bit extreme to target gamers who might not be able to afford the game’s full price.
In reality, EA Sports could release _Fifa 11_ as a patch for _Fifa 10_ owners, charge half the price, and still make an absolute tonne of money. However, I doubt EA, having earned $150 million in the first week of sales, will be thinking of turning Fifa into an expansion pack.
To conclude, if you buy a Fifa game every few years, this update is well worth your money. If you own .__ however, please, please save your money until _Fifa 13_ at the earliest.

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