FIFA 11 Review: Most Fun Sports Game Has Some Flaws


Quick, easy question: Who’s the best player currently on Aston Villa?

Ashley Young is probably the first name that pops to mind. Maybe you’d say youngster Marc Albrighton. You’d be laughed at but Emile Heskey is proving, yes, there’s still some worth in his 32-year-old carcass.

If the world of FIFA 11 is to be believed, the answer to said question is Welsh defender James Collins, who the game rates as an 81 overall, one whole rating point ahead of Young, as well as other Villa standouts like Brad Friedel, Richard Dunne, Stewart Downing, Stephen Ireland, Stylian Petrov and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Therein lays the tricky spot FIFA 11 finds itself.

It’s the best-playing soccer game on the market, yet it falls wide of the target when it comes to creating an authentic footballing experience inside a video game console. Still, it’s miles ahead of its only other competitive – Pro Evolution Soccer – which despite adding the Champions League and Copa Libertadores licenses lacks many national league licenses, notably the Premier League.

Part of my long-ranging personal problem with the “FIFA” series is it tries to appeal to a worldwide collection of soccer fans, yet in the end leaves everyone feeling a little empty. Nothing against these leagues, but how many gamers are actually use the Polish, Czech or Irish Leagues or the various other secondary or tertiary leagues? Hate to say it, but also how many global gamers are every going to queue up a FC Dallas/Colorado Rapids match?

As it is already, it seems 95 percent of online players always select Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United, to begin with.

It’s nice to have nearly 30 leagues to select from, but in the end, aside from the club colors and badges, there’s not a lot to separate a team from the Danish Superliga from the Swiss Super League.

On the plus side, EA finally added the Russian Premier League to the next-gen consoles adding appealing teams like Zenit, Rubin Kazan, Dinamo Moscow and CSKA into the mix, although its “Rest of the World” option remains bare bones, with glaring omissions like any of the top Ukrainian, Romanian or even an choice from the Asian Champions League sorely lacking.

EA might be better served to beef up the presentation for the big leagues, such as the EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and La Liga, to create a more accurate game experience. Add some more unique stadiums instead of the generic Ivy Lanes of the world. Render a few more faces to make players look like they really do, not just the superstars. Any good reason Clint Dempsey once again gets a generic digital avatar? Both ?ukasz Fabia?ski and Vito Mannone get unique renderings. So at least Arsene Wenger has one less thing to complain about.

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