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27 Reviews

FIFA 11

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

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LOOKING GOOD
In terms of what you can see on the surface, FIFA's visual presentation has never been an issue - but now EA's stepped it up a notch with new animations.

We were absolutely delighted to see a player bend down slightly to control a lofted ball with his shoulder. Even better, colliding with our fellow team mates during a celebration triggered a context-sensitive and enthusiastic shirt tug, hug or pile on.

Player likeness is still, somehow, improving as well - although it's far more impressive when it comes to the world's finest than it is with lesser known players. The England team line-up for the national anthem, for example, is almost a gallery of graphical achievement. It's the kind of thing you drag other people into the room to see.

Zoom

Meanwhile, the commentary from Tyler and Gray is still top-notch. Although much of it is recycled from last year, now the pair comment on match stats that appear on the screen periodically in true broadcast fashion, which is a nice addition for number bods.

In the stands the crowd sounds great with specific and authentic chants for the Premier League teams, at least (excuse us for not having an encyclopedic knowledge of Danish terrace singalongs). Fans still look a bit odd, however; like 80,000 cardboard cut-outs rigged to stand in block sections.

EA Sports has recognised its failing in the area - and done something pretty smart: It's opted to focus on a particular player before substitution cut-scenes, rather than supporters in the stands.

It seems like such an obvious tactic and we wonder why it took this long for someone on the team to say "You know during substitutions? Why don't we show off our ridiculously good looking players rather than our crappy crowd?".

Referees have been superficially upgraded, in a way, from faceless hammers of authority to named characters - complete with places of origin. We're pretty sure they're still works of fiction (we've not spotted Howard Webb yet, but we've seen plenty of Mr. Pennyfeather) - but Martin Tyler will actually announce them and use their name throughout the match. It's a nice touch if nothing else.

Zoom

Speaking of referees, raise your hands to the skies and rejoice! Penalties can once again be conceded with a poor standing tackle from behind - rather than just vicious sliding errors.

It sounds like a pedantic point but, in FIFA 10, having a defender clip our heels when we were one-on-one with the keeper, only to see the ref look on as if nothing had happened, was absolute madness.

The AI is actually much stronger in defence than in previous editions - but not always too tasty when it comes to moving forward. It could just be that we're cast-iron tackle-masters at the back, but computer opposition does sometimes seem oblivious to the threat of a slide tackle, and we've played more minutes of extra-time than we'd like.

Good news between the sticks, too: Keepers have been given, well, a brain, to be honest. Gone are the days where the goalie would make a half-arsed save and then slowly, almost apathetically, crawl back to his feet while a second striker smashed the ball into an open net.

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Now keepers will parry a shot and leap from the floor to another finger-tip save on the rebound - as if the goal-line is a motion sensing detonator. It makes for some awesome box scrambles - that only get screechier and more breathless in multiplayer.

SAFE HANDS
In terms of actual menu-based features, Be a Goalkeeper is probably the most intriguing. Guess what it allows you to do.

That's right, now 11-on-11 Be A Pro matches are on the cards - and taking control of the keeper is the final step. It's a basic system of positioning and timing, using the the left analogue stick to move to the best spot for a save and then the right analogue stick to dive.

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