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PlayStation 3 Review: FIFA 11

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Futbol, football, and soccer fans around the world – along with videogamers – wait every year for the annual installment of EA Sport’s soccer game, FIFA 11.  With a slew of new features that will impress even the most traditional fans, this year’s offering doesn’t disappoint.

The biggest addition to this year’s game, and the one that I was most looking forward to, is the Personality+ system. The system uses approximately 1,700 scouts from around the world to evaluate and update each players’ skills as the year progresses. This is a remarkable undertaking, but could prove to give the game a greater replay value than it normally possesses.

After first putting the game into the system, there is an immediate difference in the initial set-up from previous iterations. The first thing the game does is look for save data from FIFA 10 to try to make sure that the difficulty settings are the same. Should it fail to find such data, it brings up a list of four questions that, after they are answered, set up the game which then promptly drops you onto the practice field so you can get a first-hand feel for how the control’s work before braving the pitch in a real game.

Playing an actual game is just like riding a bicycle, and if you have ever played any of the previous 18 versions of the title you’ll know what to do. The control scheme is very easy to grasp, the teams are balanced and judged in a fair manner, and the commentary is very well polished, per usual with this series.

I found the pick up and play-style of this game especially helpful. As somebody who was switching consoles with this game, I love how EA made the game very easy to learn if you were on a lower difficulty level, but if you want a challenge, you can easily step it up and go with a much higher setting. I know that most games do this, but EA Sports titles have always been rather balanced.  With a little practice, almost anybody can be scoring goals and blocking shots in no time.

One of the changes over previous iterations of the game is the new design for career mode. When you enter this mode, you now have the option of choosing whether to be a player, a manager, or a player-manager. This mode combines the Manager mode and Virtual Pro modes from last year’s version.

The one major problem with this is how difficult the transfers are. As somebody who admittedly doesn’t fully understand the transfer system in the real world, EA could have done much more to make this an easier process. After spending time with it, however, it becomes much simpler.

As far as odds and ends of the game are concerned, the game has EA’s usual polished look. The new interface is much smoother than in previous years and it is much easier to find various gameplay tools. The camera work is what you would expect, with a good mix of views for however you prefer to see the field. The commentary is very well done, though does get repetitive after several hours of gameplay, but that is to be expected. The soundtrack, highlighted by bands such as Linkin Park, Gorillaz, the Black Keys, and MGMT, is a great blend of music from around the world that plays very well into the international flavor of the game.

As per EA’s new norm with sports games, there is the Online Pass to deal with. This is a definite drawback for customers who are on a budget and looking to get the game used. Though you can purchase access to the online content for $10, it is still a shame that EA feels the need to nickel and dime customers.

If you don’t have the Online Pass, there really isn’t much that is available online. The only things that you can really do are to look at the online leaderboards and visit the FIFA 11 Store. This is a bit of a letdown for anybody who buys the game used as they won’t have access.

With over 500 teams representing more than 30 leagues, FIFA 11 is a great buy for fans of the sport as well as casual gamers looking to get into the glorious sport.

Overall, the game is rather enjoyable and very easy to get into. All that needs to happen is for EA to get rid of their Online Pass requirements and this would be a complete game for any soccer fan.

FIFA 11 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360.

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