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Preview: FIFA 11 - The best football game ever?

Let's be honest here, the only thing you really care about with this preview of FIFA 11 is if it's any good, right? Or to be specific, does it play better than FIFA 10? The answers to both of these questions is yes.

For the four hours we got our sticky fingers on FIFA 11 we loved every second of it, so much so we can't even bear to put FIFA World Cup 2010 or any other footie game in the disc tray again. Nope, we'll be waiting patiently for preview/review code, thanks. So let us guide you through the biggest improvements and tweaks that we've experienced with the on-field action...


Gooooaaaaaallazzzzooooo!


30 yard pile-drivers? Check. Worm-burning drilled shots across the ground? Check. More accurate chip-shots? Check. Cheap pass across the goal tap-ins? No. The ways to score goals this season have improved beautifully, making you feel ecstatic as you put one in the net, but our biggest reason to be cheerful is that the somewhat cheaty goals have been booted out. 


Above: Inter Milan's Sammy Eto'o shapes up to shoot, which is more reliable than the square pass in FIFA11

Draw the keeper out and then pass across goal for an easy tap-in has been nixed. Goalie's will now leap full stretch and palm the ball away more often than not. The same fate has befallen the soft prod into the bottom corner - a goal in 2010 FIFA World Cup that has people in this office going into a sweary rage.

Dribble it


"We have a thing we're internally calling Iniesta touch" explains FIFA 11 producer, David Rutter "It's where technical players can get away from a defender in a few quick movements". It involves sharp cuts of the analogue stick to instantly turn away from defenders, which leaves them for dead. We'd already used this technique to devastating effect during the games we played before our interview with David Rutter, and we can safely say it redefines the dribbling in FIFA for the greater good.


Above: World Cup winning goal scorer, Andres Ineista, really benefits from now having his skills replicated in game


So rather than having to rely on the often tricky process of Right Stick skills, you can simply turn a player inside-out with deft Left Stick movements. Lovely stuff. Skipping past men has always been a grind in FIFA but with this new system it allows for a far more exciting approach to dribbling. Also, players who are little but have a good centre of gravity won't just be barged off the ball in FIFA11. Using Messi we caused all manner of problems to the opposition. We saw defenders like Sol Campbell clinging to the little Argentinean only for Messi to keep his balance and bustle his way forward. Surprisingly, it seems England's Peter Crouch, a man seemingly made from Meccano bits, is unrealistically strong and tricky on the ball, but we're sure this will be fixed by release time.

The other benefit of the 'Iniesta touch' is that gifted ball players such as Barca's main man plus the likes of Paul Scholes, can easily bring a ball under control instantly. Whereas cloggers like Fulham's strapping centre-back, Hangeland, will struggle to perform the same move.

Strong defence

While the attackers have a new set of dribbling animations and actions to torment defences, they don't necessarily have it all their own way. As well as defenders being more adept at sticking a foot out and poking the ball away from an opponent, or rising like a salmon from a stream to nod away crosses, the new 'doubling-up' ability is the biggest weapon in their arsenal.


Above: Powerful headers are as huge in your own box as the opponents, as the Gunner's Vermaelan demonstrates

It works the same as calling in another defender in previous FIFAs, where an AI team-mate will sprint to the ball carrier as you control a different player. But this time around, your player will go into a sort of defensive stance as he back peddles expertly, while facing the attacker. You'll know when it's happening because a tiny head and shoulders silhouette appears over your controlled-players head and another player will charge in. We're not sure whether the indicator is needed though. This positioning helps to snuff out the threat of dangerous runners like Cristiano Ronaldo as you can use it to guide them into channels where they'll be less effective.

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7 comments

  • thetruthv2 - August 28, 2010 1:47 p.m.

    And more stadiums from the lower leagues.
  • thetruthv2 - August 28, 2010 1:45 p.m.

    It would be v nice if they have taken out the ratty goals. Cross hits the bar then the striker. WHATEVER.
  • rut4000 - July 24, 2010 1:11 a.m.

    Have they sorted the heading out, cause on fifa10 more often than not the heading would glance gently off the head of the attacker, meaning it trickled slowly and painfully out. Just wondering if there was any feedback about this?
  • zer0hvk - July 23, 2010 2:56 p.m.

    I used to be a fan of soccer games when I was a kid, I used to play International Superstar Soccer and the like, mostly because it was fun, and I could play it on my own or with my friends. Now I only play FIFA games with my friends, mostly because it's the most arcade-ish of the two most important ones (PES & FIFA, to me, at least), PES has become an increasingly complex soccer game, which probably makes up for it if you master the skills of playing it, but, FIFA, even though it's still not very user-friendly, it's a bit more "pick-up-and-play". I'm looking forward to play this with my friends, thanks for the preview, awesome work!! :)
  • IIBrownieII - July 23, 2010 9:55 a.m.

    Nice preview Nath bought FIFA last year but could never get into it as much as I wud have liked, which resulted in me gettin thrashed at my mates all the time. So I'll make sure I give it a good crack this year. Use to love pes but now it's just fallen to far behind.
  • rockstarsean - July 23, 2010 9:04 a.m.

    Very Excite!!!
  • boourns - July 23, 2010 8:58 a.m.

    Every year I get a wee FIFA boner around this time, its like waiting for the season to start.

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