Games Review: FIFA 11

Publisher: EA Sports Price: �49.99 Format: PS3 (also on Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS) Age rating: 3+ Score: 5/5 STARS

RELEASING three new FIFA games in the space of a year might be viewed as over-egging things slightly, but when they’re this good we really don’t care.

FIFA 11 carries on where the already-excellent FIFA 10 and FIFA World Cup left off, coming ever closer to capturing the intensity and excitement of the real thing.

Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that the game has got a lot more physical. Players will jostle for possession of the ball, especially when confronted with more athletic and speedier opponents. This helps slow the game down slightly, placing a greater emphasis on balance, touch, strength and passing ability.

Speaking of which, the ping-pong passing of previous games has been dispensed with, making it much more difficult to thread a pass through a crowded midfield or unlock a team’s back four. A new attributes-based passing system means that playmakers like Real Madrid’s Kaka can still spray the ball about the pitch, but less skillful players will deliver more wayward passes. You can compensate for a player’s inadequacies, but you have to be much more accurate with the direction and power of your shot.

Another change for the better is that some goalkeepers are more agile than others. Dive and reflex attributes mean the best goalies will be able to reach further and react quicker than their less experienced rivals. Even better, thanks to the new Be A Goalkeeper mode, you can actually become a virtual ball stopper yourself. Not only does this provide a new dimension to the game – especially during free kicks, corners and penalties – but it also carries over to the game’s online modes where you can finally play 11 versus 11.

Other tweaks include an optional handball mode, the opportunity to customize in-game chants, a comprehensive career mode – in which you can be a manager or a player or combine the two roles – and more than 100 different goal-scoring celebrations.

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As you can probably tell, FIFA 11 is a deeply rewarding experience. It offers a compelling take on the beautiful game and if you’re a fan of the sport – either real or virtual – it’s a must-buy.