The latest edition of EA’s FIFA series had barely hit the shelves before the bookmakers tipped it to be topping the charts this Holidays. And, you know what, I think they might be right.
Sure, there’s going to be plenty of competition what with Medal of Honor, Call of Duty Black Ops, Fable III and Gran Turismo 5 on the horizon – and that’s not to mention the impact of the motion controllers Kinect and Move on the market – but, after playing FIFA 11 non-stop since I got a copy, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance it could top the Holidays league table.
A matter of days after launch, EA Sports announced estimated sales of 2.6m copies in Europe and North America, making it the fastest selling sports game ever. Not only that but more than 11m games were played online in the first two days after its launch.
Those bookmakers seem to know what they’re talking about, eh?
Thanks to the World Cup tournament in the summer, it’s not been long since the previous FIFA release but rest assured, there are still enough improvements in this edition to make it a worthwhile purchase.
Without doubt, this is the best looking of the FIFA series – the visuals are crisper, cleaner and more realistic than ever before. The licenses – from the team and player names, strips and grounds – are accurate and updated as you’d expect, and being an EA Sports title, the presentation is predictably spot on. From the menu screens with their catchy tunes, to the increasingly lifelike players and the reassuringly familiar commentary from Andy Gray and Martin Tyler… it’s typical FIFA.
Perhaps the most noticeable changes are EA’s efforts to up the game’s realism. Not only does the AI seem a little more impressive this time round but the addition of Personality + is a real step forward, replicating the abilities of the real-life players… Drogba is deadly in front of goal – defenders literally bouncing off him as he readies himself to strike, Rooney is wiley and creative, Cahill great in the air and Fabregas is the heart and soul of the team, accurately distributing the ball about the pitch. More than ever before, teams now actually play differently and the players have noticeably different attributes and traits.
Pro Passing is another welcome addition, putting you very much in control of what happens onscreen. It certainly takes some getting used to, as you try to weight the pass and add just enough power and direction to ensure the ball goes where you want it to, but it is so much more rewarding when you pull off that killer pass – more than a little reminiscent of Pro Evolution Soccer in its heyday. Depending on the skill of both you and the pixel-based player you control, the ball can now easily be intercepted or mis-hit, which certainly adds to the realism and tension.
Get past the intro screens and you can dive straight into a single match or start a 15-season career as player, manager or player manager. Then, of course, there are the celebrated online options – from the simple head to head games to the 11v11 games.
A new game mode allows you to don the gloves and stand between the sticks for an entire match if you fancy too. Be A Goalkeeper is a welcome option but one I imagine will quickly be overlooked… as it can get pretty dull watching most of the action take place higher up the pitch. Nonetheless, it’s the perfect opportunity to hone your skills and enjoy a previously overlooked aspect of the game.
Whether you’re a hardcore FIFA fan or like a kick about on a more casual basis, the latest instalment is well worth the outlay. This year’s effort has not had a major overhaul but instead tweaks a winning formula. It’s clearly the best in the long-running series so far and comes highly recommended.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
The addition of Personality+ and Pro Passing really add to the game - and it looks, sounds and feels better than ever.
It's not a major overhaul on last year's version. Be A Goalkeeper is a welcome option but may quickly become dull.