Once again, EA Sports' latest FIFA game continues to push boundaries and build on the massive steps taken by its predecessors. While FIFA 11 struggles to compete with last year's effort in terms of new additions, there is still improvement in almost every facet of the gameplay, making it a worthwhile purchase.
Importantly, the game feels a little different to FIFA 10. The opening screens have had a brush up and everything feels smoother and newer. The gameplay also feels sharper and, with a few new touches, there is certainly something to improve upon the existing product.
Notably, this year the improved physicality has pleased the makers greatly. Personality Plus sees closer attention paid to the ways that specific players interact on the pitch, from how they run, shoot and challenge for the ball, to how they react to referees' decisions. With even more increased physicality, there are further simulations for jostling, challenging and tackling and the fact that the world's big players now do this with almost scary authenticity is a nice touch.
The other major addition for the new game is the Be A Goalie mode, which is fairly self-explanatory. In all honestly, there is probably a reason why this hasn't been used before and, although it provides users with the chance to play between the sticks, it isn't that much fun. Playing with the camera behind the goal, you are given very little control over the rest of the players on the pitch and it can be more frustrating than anything else.
Of the little tweaks that have been ironed out, the player goal celebrations are probably the most noticeable. No longer does a player run headlong into the net when scoring, but instead the nearest team-mate will join him in an embrace, while still giving you plenty of time to pull off your own custom-made celebration. A highlights mode in the menu after the game has finished will also allow you to watch the best moments of action, also giving you the option to save and upload to the web if you so wish.
If you're a real hardcore gamer, then FIFA 11 offers you a unique Creation Centre that means you can craft tactics, players and team on the EA website and then download them to your console. More passive gamers will still get a kick out of the online-mode and there are a raft of online leagues and 11-on-11 games to get involved in, while the addition of a new leaderboard allows you to compare your own achievements with your mates'.
The only real disappointment that comes from the gameplay is with a new passing system that allows you to hold the pass button to target a team-mate further down the field. Sometimes the game thinks that a short, hard pass is meant for someone further up the field because of the length of the button press and interceptions are commonplace. Chipping, too, is still far too clunky and it is a pity that EA have not sought to change the way it is done (reverting to the same way as FIFA 09 would perhaps be the easiest way).
Overall, there are no huge changes to the way FIFA 10 was set up, but why change a winning formula? What the new game lacks in innovation, it makes up for in building on what EA has done well over the last few years. Still a hugely enjoyable game to play, FIFA 11 is arguably the closest you can come to playing football without ever having to leave your house.