FIFA 11 Hands-On Preview

On its release FIFA 10 felt like the greatest football game ever made, and for the fans – many of whom only stopped playing it in order to get stuck into the superb World Cup iteration that was released back in April – there were only a handful of niggles that stopped it from being truly definitive. Not only are development squad EA Canada focusing on ensuring that these problems are well on their way to being fixed this year, they’re also obsessing over the franchise’s progression to the next level. As expected.

Many of those qualms were merely aesthetic quibbles, and despite the fact that FIFA 11 isn’t finished yet, several of those issues appear to have been remedied in full. There is now much more variety in player’s body types, and as a result the game in action looks even more reminiscent of an actual game than it already did. New celebrations have been promised – although despite our valiant button-mash efforts, we didn’t see any – and the style in which specific players dribble will also be pedantically replicated.

The most impressive gameplay aspect that we witnessed during play was the new ability to shield long balls with the player on the receiving end. Rather than simply having to hope for the best, or sprint off-target merely to throw off any approaching opponents, you can now apprehensively block those players’ attacks from any direction, provided of course that the ball was headed for your feet in the first place.

Another complaint was that FIFA 10 allowed too readily for players to pull off “ping-pong passing”, which was massively satisfying but detrimental to the game’s otherwise peerless realism, and this has also been remedied. One of the most infuriating things that an opponent could do in FIFA 10 – namely to receive a ball at one angle, pull of an instantaneous 180 degree turn and then immediately execute an accurate pass to someone behind him – is nowhere to be seen. Now anyone who tries a similar manoeuvre is going to have to accept that pin-point accuracy is very, very unlikely.

Although our hands-on time was limited to a series of standard ten minute quick matches, copious changes have been made to the rest of the game. A new career mode – which looks as if it is set to replace both Be A Pro mode and Manager mode – looks like it’s going to be a brilliant amalgam of both. You can either start at the bottom with a created player and work your way up, or begin life as a pro and endeavour to stay there. The player status system (which some hardened players insisted was faulty last time) has been completely revamped, as have the tournament structures and calendar system.

FIFA 10 felt worryingly definitive when it was released back in October last year, and whether FIFA 11 ends up achieving the same level of critical respect and admiration remains to be seen. But EA Canada’s dedication to progressing everything about each new FIFA title has never been more ferocious or inspiring, and even in its current state – of around 75% completion – FIFA 11 looks like it’ll blow all competition clean out of the water. Including the estimable competition from its own stable.

Watch the FIFA 11 trailer here….

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