FIFA is something close to my heart. I own an Xbox 360 primarily for FIFA, so for me, EA Sports needs to get every single release perfect so that I can get the full enjoyment out of my console experience! Of course, I have fantastic titles such as Red Dead Redemption knocking about in my library, but I’m a massive fan of football and the passion takes over.
Here, take a look at this beautiful high definition picture of Real Madrid’s Kaka as he will be seen in the game:
After scrutinising this screenshot for a good few minutes, I came to the conclusion that there hasn’t been much of a visual improvement from FIFA 11 as of yet, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because FIFA 11 does actually have impressive graphics. However, it is still the early stages, so you never know what tweaks EA Sports may do in the time leading up to release, which is likely to be early October 2011.
When I see the first glimpse of a new game, it automatically sends my brain into drawing up a wish list. I’ve been summing up FIFA 11 for the past hour or so now, and my general conclusion is that it was a pretty awesome release, adding even more realism into the franchise, which seems to be dominating Pro Evolution Soccer more and more as the years peel off the calendar.
The attention to detail in FIFA 11 is greatly improved with notable focus on the football pitch detail, the player model detail, and the animations. I’m a real harsh judge when it comes to analysing the visual quality of a game, and FIFA 11 has escaped my harsh, critical hammer of judgment as I see the effort that was put into making the game look as gorgeous as possible; from the wrinkles in the jersey as the player moves, down to the wrinkles on the forehead of the players as their facial expressions change, it is awesome. This all excites me, because I am weird.
However, I’m still not satisfied, because I want more. So now I shall share my wish list with you all, where I won’t be asking for too much, honest!
First on my list, are off-the-pitch animations, as it’s something that the game lacks, and it’s definitely something that has been bugging me for the last few releases of FIFA. When the ball goes out of play, or there’s a cut scene showing a player walking on the side of the field, you can see that in the background you have motionless, cardboard cut-outs of the coach and the players sitting on the bench, not moving a muscle (muscles being quite important in football); I want movement! I would really like to see some animated player models when it comes to this, maybe if the players actually left the bench and ran along the touch line to warm up or if the manager walked around the technical area to shout out orders to the players on the field. I would have a massive smile on my face if EA Sports were to incorporate this into FIFA 12.
Second on my list is my issue with the crowd detail, or lack of it. In my honest and brutal opinion, the crowd visuals still stink, as they have done for a while. But in recent times, EA Sports has been able to make each individual member of the crowd look 3D… but just ‘look’ 3D, nothing more. For me, there isn’t enough variation in colours in the stadium, and it all looks a bit too plastic, which really distracts you from the realism that is evident in other key aspects of the game.
Speaking of key aspects… flares! What happened to the flares!? When I play a match as an Italian side, I don’t feel like I’m playing in an Italian stadium! There is a distinct lack of team banners too, even though there are flags waving about in the crowd, there are no banners, which are a big thing for clubs like AC Milan and Liverpool FC, prior to and during the football match. It’s those little things that which would add so much more atmosphere to the game, and it must be done!
Now that I have mentioned the in-game atmosphere, I think that there needs to be more of an accurate and real-time reaction from the crowd throughout the matches played. Sure, you can see the crowd stand up when your team score and you then hear the celebration that follows, but I think that they can improve greatly on this. There needs to be more of a roar when a goal goes in, a crescendo of noise which would make your hairs stand on end over the mass amount of goose bumps that would appear on the surface of your skin, just to symbolise the importance of that goal. There also needs to be more of a reaction when a shot whizzes wide, inches past the post, as you don’t really get the feeling that you just ‘almost’ scored. Don’t get me wrong, EA Sports isn’t all that far away from making the game sound and look perfect, but in order to make the game really special, they need to address these areas and improve on them.
Last on my list is the A.I. Oh how many developers have ongoing problems with creating the perfect A.I player? If the intelligence of your team or the opposition players is lacking, then it’s definitely going to be evident in a teamwork based game like FIFA, no? I find it impossible to play the Be a Pro feature and control just my own player, as opposed to the full team, as you just don’t get that free flowing game of football that you would like, as the other players are undependable! So, you end up controlling the whole team, which pretty much defeats the object of taking your created player to a World Class level, as it just isn’t personal enough.
In general, the opposition A.I anticipates your play to the extent that it’s inhuman. Now, I know that the A.I players aren’t strictly human, but they’re supposed to be representations of humans, not Superman. With the A.I being like Superman, I just wish that each of my players were carrying around a bulk of Kryptonite in their shorts.
EA Canada producer, David Rutter, has recently released a statement which suggests that they are going to be focusing on improving the A.I in FIFA 12. He says, “I think we did a great job with the Personality Plus feature in FIFA 11”. He added, ”But the teams [AI] doesn’t support that quite as much as it should. As an example, a team doesn’t spot that if Peter Crouch in the area, they can lay a load of high balls onto his head.”
To draw my wish list to a close, I would go as far as to say that in my opinion FIFA is still the best football game out there, but it could be so much better if the aforementioned were to be achieved. EA Sports has got the game mechanics down to a tee, almost, so you would think that they have a lot more time to play with in regards to swinging their focus on the smaller things which would make a bigger game; we FIFA fans can only hope for a continuously improving franchise.