FIFA 11 is just under a month away. We've played it, and it's got us a bit giddy.
Here are five key reasons why you should start limbering up for the next game in EA's award-winning franchise - not that you needed much convincing anyway:
Pinball is so last season
FIFA 10 rewarded rapid 'ping-pong' passing and one-twos, taking Nikola Zigic-sized liberties with reality; so even Championship cloggers could pass the ball like Barcelona by hammering X. The new Pro Passing system is more considered, with a small on-screen meter to judge pass weighting. Bad body positioning and under/over hit strikes will break any semblance of rhythm, especially with less skilled players. Patience and probing are key.
'Who are ya? Who are ya?'
In FIFA 11 you can create crowd chants, or rip them from MP3s. Yep, even filthy ones. You can also upload custom audio for your players to walk onto, plus tunes for goals and celebrating wins. All custom audio is for solo-play, not online use, dodging copyright issues. Better, the Creation Centre lets you build an entire team using web browser tools, that you can import at your leisure. Wow.
Party like it's 1999...
...thanks to the revamped UCC (User Created Celebrations) 2.0 engine. We saw Gerrard leaping on Torres' back, before the two fell to the ground cavorting. Of course, the rest of the team joined in as soon as possible...
It combines Maradonna's personality with...
The ickily-titled Personality Plus imbues each player - well, the top ones - with their own distinct real-life skillset. Ronaldo's unique upright sprinting stance is in; switch to Arshavin and you'll notice his scampering style, the ball superglued to his feet during dribbles. Drogba bulldozes all but the best centre backs in the air. Players have defensive and attacking work rate attributes too, so Rooney tenaciously tracks back, while a disinterested Berbatov sulks way upfield. Technique players, like Iniesta, have better first touch to hold off tight tackling.
...the rippling pecs of Micah Richards
It's all about 'stylised reality' this year, meaning accentuated physique traits like broader shoulders and ultra athletic legs. Then there's the nine distinct body types, including 'lean' (Walcott), 'medium' (Carra), 'heavyweight' (Ferdinand) and the rather unflattering 'freak' (Crouchy).