FIFA 11 Hands-On Preview - Donning the Gloves of Football's Unsung Heroes
Written Sunday, September 19, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Football isn't called the beautiful game for nothing, and no, we don't call it that because the footballers seem to attract a plethora of failed models who we label WAGs - sorry couldn't resist a subtle jab. It's called the beautiful game because of its unpredictable nature, the passion and support it can bring and the sheer emotion it can evoke. In stark contrast, football games though had become exceedingly predictable, with little to no surprises coming from that specific genre for years. FIFA 09 broke that trend and here we are, expecting the third iteration in little under a few weeks’ time and EA are looking to improve the already successful formula... by adding more gloves.
FIFA 11's biggest addition revolves around the oft ignored goalkeeping position, allowing you to become the unsung hero - or a liability - in the ‘Be A Pro’ mode and also for the first time in the franchise’s lengthy history, an 11 on 11 mode. Now I know this was a requested feature, but I can hear the dissenters now: "Why the hell would I want to be a goalkeeper? It's a thankless job!" Yes, that much is true; your goal-scorers and midfield playmakers are usually the personnel that get all the praise and limelight, but if you ever dreamed of being the unsung hero, now's your chance.
The extent of your control over the goalkeeper in FIFA 11’s new mode is unparalleled and like the Be A Pro mode, the view switches from the traditional side on view, to the more apt goal to goal camera angle. The controls are relatively simple and it’s a fairly easy trade to pick up, although, it’s definitely a mode with the scope to truly master. Using the left analogue stick to navigate - players can either position themselves or use L1 to auto position the keeper - and the right stick to dive, the controls couldn’t be any more straightforward.
Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, you can take that one step further by charging down attackers and then diving at their feet using circle or even hitting R1 for an “anticipation save” which can be particularly handy if you’re good at reading which way the attacker is set to shoot. To take things to the next level and possibly the most satisfying aspect of the whole mode, players can also come out and punch, simply by holding the triangle button and I have to say, connecting with a good punch - especially against a devilish cross - is more satisfying than creating that perfect through ball for a friend. Just beware though, it’s very easy to do a David James and miss the ball entirely, so it’s all about perception - “Is this mine?” “Can I make this punch or is it too risky?”… you know, the things the gloved saviours have to go through every weekend.
Heading back into the outfield positions, it's hard to see how much FIFA 11 has really improved upon its predecessor. I even busted out FIFA 10 again before hand just so I could really compare the experiences. EA are keen to push this new notion of “Personality +” – giving in-game players traits of their real life counterparts – which could be absent for long periods of the game and then all of a sudden, Messi will go on one of those darting runs or John Terry will throw his way in front of the ball as if he’s Kevin Costner protecting Miss Houston. In that way, one could say it’s true to life, as we all know Messi has the ability to be almost a ghost on the odd occasion, popping up at the most inconvenient time with a moment of brilliance.
The other notable additions are quite minor in comparison, like the ability to individually select replays rather than sit and skip them until you get to the one you want, the new penalty system which they brought forward from the World Cup title and a handful of new customisation tools. They’re that minor that EA even found it appropriate to tag them with “New,” otherwise you may have missed them.