Replay Value: 9.5
Okay, I know that this is late and by all means FIFA madness is over. But, UEFA Champions League is currently under way, so that gives me a new window to tell you why FIFA '11 is brilliant. Chances are, if you're reading this now, you've played a FIFA game in the past or you are, at the very least, a fan of the sport. For this current iteration. FIFA makes some marked improvements over its predecessors, including the enhancement of Career game modes, enhanced online gameplay (11 vs. 11!), improved ball control, and refined goalkeeper AI making FIFA '11 an easy purchase.
I have spent a lot of time playing the game over the past month or so, and much of it has been with friends and family. My circle of friends, including my older brother, get highly competitive when it comes down to FIFA and tensions run very high. FIFA continues to provide the game with an experience unlike any other sports game can achieve. Whether its running down the field and cracking your opponent, executing the perfect play, a corner kick that leads to a header-goal, a long range goal beamed from a distance, or even the ever disappointing goal post smack (this is the point you'll find yourself cursing out your attacker), there is never a shortage of excitement with FIFA 11. Even the referees you choose determine the kind of game you'll have, as every ref has a different set of attributes that affect penalty-calling, or lack thereof.
Furthermore, when you aren't playing with a friend or online, the Career Mode has been changed to include Be A Pro and Manager Mode all under one area. In the revamped Career, you can be either a manager, player, or player-manager for up to 15 seasons. Numerous fixes and additions have been made to the mode, all for the better, and I'm sure FIFA fans will take a great liking to it. I do have some issues though, primarily with the A.I. No matter how you tweak the game settings, there are far too many instances when a non-player controlled teammate will simply watch as the ball rolls by, or does not read a more than obvious play as its about to happen. Unless you're in control at all times, which is simply impossible, your A.I. will give up way too many opportunities at making an interception or steal, and in critical situations, these kinds of drawbacks really hurt. I do like the passing system overall, but going back to the A.I., your players should not be calling for a center when there's two or three defenders around them. Lastly, Be A Goalkeeper is a solid addition, but can be a bit boring at times.
FIFA games have looked pretty decent for the past few years. There aren't a whole lot of changes to FIFA 11, none that are immediately noticeable, at least. Though that isn't a slight against the game, since the game engine is pretty smooth, and the overall look is polished. But, we are pretty far along this generation and it would've been nice to see some marked improvements made in graphics that go beyond just player celebrations. At least the framerate doesn't jerk anymore during cutscenes and match intros. Still, FIFA 11 is a decent looking that shouldn't offend anybody's senses.
Now we know that audio has always been a strong suit of the series, thanks largely to the commentary stylings of Martin Tyler and Andy Gray. FIFA 11 continues to employ the duo's delivery with a constant stream of broadcasting that contributes to the game's atmosphere. There is an internationally inspired soundtrack present, but it's mostly something you'll ignore, either way. What really sends the audio presentation over the top is the stadium crowd and how involved they get, because let's face it, that is a core aspect of watching football.
All in all, FIFA 11 delivers the goods. It's got the presentation down quite well, and the overall fluidity of the gameplay is unmatched. It's remained relatively the same visually, and the commentary continues to be strong, but it's the tension of every match that'll get you hooked for a long time to come. It does need some aspects of its A.I. fixed up in order to make non-controlled players more willing to pounce on the ball. Regardless, there's nothing better than FIFA 11 when it comes to footy on your console.