FIFA11: my very first impressions

FIFA11 was delivered yesterday (Wednesday) around noon. Whatever happened to the days when post was delivered at the crack of dawn? Never mind. It did well to get here at all yesterday. A very well done to ShopTo.

Unfortunately, I only had time for about 40 minutes’ play yesterday. This morning, I’ve had about an hour. I’ve got a lot on this week.

I was going to save up all my impressions for my regular post tomorrow, but I think I’ll split it into two. I’ll post brief first impressions now and brief second impressions tomorrow, with hopefully a longer post on Monday.

In brief, I’m not impressed at all with FIFA11. I wasn’t thrilled by the demo, but that’s no real guide. I think the series is going backwards.

I played my usual football game opener, England vs Scotland (the International fixture of my youth). Then I played England vs Germany. Then I played a Tournament. I’m partway through that tournament now. I’ve played seven full matches of FIFA11. I’m not much impressed yet.

I’ve always had two main critiques of next-gen FIFA. Number 1 is probably the lack of a decent single-player mode. It’ll be a while before I can see if that complaint has been resolved, or at least alleviated, in FIFA11. I always piss about for a bit with a new football game, playing Exhibitions and Tournaments etc., until I feel I’ve got enough of a handle on the gameplay to dive into the real substance. I won’t try out the all-new Career Mode until next week.

My Number 2 complaint has always been the absurd over-effectiveness of sprint-pressure—that’s when you squeeze some buttons and get the ball back semi-automatically. To some extent PES has this ‘feature’ too (I believe it originated in PES), but in FIFA the damn thing is near enough 90% effective all over the pitch.

I only really noticed sprint-pressure—sprint-clamping, the Claw, whatever you want to call it—being very bad in FIFA09. It’s got steadily worse, steadily more serious, steadily more notorious. Everybody, it seems, hates it.

Sprint-pressure, the swinging albatross around next-gen FIFA’s neck, is as present and effective and fucking stupid in FIFA11 as it has ever been. There’s a half-hearted new stamina system that has zero impact. I’m not the sort of player who can forget that something like this is in the game. When I don’t have that ball and I want it, I’m simply gonna squeeze them buttons…

There are great positives. Shooting is very nice indeed. There is now loads of dip on shots. Early signs are that headers have some oomph. The Slow speed setting is, predictably, hardly worthy of the name, but gamespeed can be slowed a bit more by selecting rainy weather conditions and a pitch with some wear and tear on it. A very welcome option.

It’s far too early to write off FIFA11, or next-gen FIFA as a whole, as many in the football gaming world already seem to be doing. Some PES fans have been waiting for 4 years to dance on FIFA’s grave all over again. They won’t be restrained.

I’ve always been a supporter of the next-gen FIFA ideal. But in my view the franchise has gradually retreated from the ambition it showed with FIFA08. And now the shocking thing is how little I care about FIFA11.

It was no great wrench to leave FIFA11 behind yesterday and go out to work. It was no great wrench to stop playing it just now and come to write this post.

I should be able to put in a good few hours tomorrow (Friday) morning. I’ll post my second, more in-depth impressions, on Friday afternoon.

Updated: 3rd October 2010 — 15:46


  1. So this latest edition of FIFA feels like a backwards step? That must be the first bad move that FIFA has taken since they completely revamped the series in 08. Granted I’ve only played the demo but I did not enjoy it too much for the same reasons I didn’t like FIFA 10 and that you covered extensively in your numerous blog posts . Much like yourself, I prefer the single-player modes so I’m hoping the Career Mode can at least rival the brilliant Master League. From what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t look like a mode that can pull me away from Master League any time soon. However, that wasn’t the feeling I was getting when Chris Davie’s had nothing but wonderful things to say about Career Mode in the latest FSB podcast which got my hopes up. I’m kind of getting mixed signals here about whether this mode can be as immersive as my beloved Master League.

    For the first time since 2007, I will only be picking up PES and not FIFA. Usually I get both and play them simultaneously through out the year. That doesn’t mean I’m skipping FIFA 11 all together. I simply want to focus on one footy game as I might be interested in the idea of Master League Online. What usually drives me to have both games at launch is the notion that I might be missing out on what FIFA has to offer. However this year, I feel like I can wait at least a few months before I can shift my attention to FIFA 11. I know some might say FIFA is not about the single-player modes but rather the impressive amount of online modes that FIFA has to offer including FIFA Clubs. The problem with that is “Sprint Clamping” seems to manifest itself in the worst way online when it comes down to it almost to the point that it’s encouraged in order to get you to pass the ball quicker thus losing creativity like you would see from midfield maestros like Xavi and Pirlo.

  2. I’ve decided not to bother with Fifa this year, to be honest while I can’t knock EA for the advances they have made with the game since its Next-Gen debut, personally to me it has never really felt right. for one I’ve never got to grips with scoring, finding goals very hard to come by and when they did it was always with a sense of relief rather than achievement, you know as though I’d had a bit of a helping hand but every year with each disappoint Pro Evo I’ve tried to master it to no avail but have gotten a reasonable amount of joy out of it before quickly becoming bored, so much so that last year due to IMO the worst ever PES I rarely played either game after November.

    My take on it is, EA`s main objective is to get people playing Fifa against each other, I don’t have a problem with that but I’m afraid “ that’s just not my bag”, its single player for me all the way always has always will be. The bottom line is having played the last 4 Fifa s and the recent demo I applaud EA for the massive improvements they have made over the years but I know it’s never going to be the game I want it to be and therefore my dalliance with the fully licensed one is now over.

    And so it is with a metaphoric bunch of flowers and box of chocolates I go skulking back to my one true love, for while we are in this metaphoric / fantasy world for the moment she appears to have had a bit of work done and is looking and feeling rather lovely…Phwor !!

    I have absolutely hammered the Pes 2011 demo and am still loving the game. Most of my little niggles ( and they were little) such as crossing and camera angles have been corrected for the release and my biggest fear regarding difficultly looks to have been addressed. I beat Bayern 4-0 last night and was thinking to myself “cracked it”, well I played them 3 times this morning with them beating me 3-0 twice and 3-1 loved it!!

    So Royal Mail permitting, I for one can’t wait for next Wednesday.

    Hope she`ll have me back……

  3. So focusing purely on gameplay, is your only reservation with FIFA11 that this sprint clamping hasn’t been fixed or are there other new problems? Or is it more the case that it just hasn’t evolved much from FIFA10, while PES is currently making huge advances. I’m not that bothered by sprint clamping myself, but what I’m hoping to see in FIFA11 (when I eventually get round to buying it) would be improvements in the perennial bugbears of player individuality and floatiness – in a way I’d prefer it to be less smooth, so there’s more of a feeling of weight in player movement and ball impact

  4. I have been playing FIFA 11 for a couple days now, and I think that they’ve addressed issue #1; creating your player, then following his career through player, to player-manager, to manager is pretty damned epic. So far, no glitches, and they seem to have addressed *my* #1 complaint, which was variety of goals. I created a winger (the tits on the bull of FIFA 10), and in 5 matches, he’s lobbed in 3 crosses for assists. It’s been much improved, albeit subtly.

    I think that like a new PS2 PES, it will take several matches for the old habits to fade and for the new subtleties to become evident.

    So far, I’m really digging FIFA. Blending the single-player modes into one affair with options is really smart, and feels great. They added correct formatting for MLS (although I doubt the CONCACAF Champions League is in the game), and I’m finding little adds and tweaks throughout.

    Regarding your #2 gripe, sprint-clamping is still in the game, with no noticeable reduction of efficiency.

  5. ^ Also, if you send me your .css file for this theme, I’ll show you what to change in order to add some margin between paragraphs on your comments. That must be extremely annoying to you (as it’s marginally annoying to me, and it’s not my blog!)

  6. bkmelendez—as a commenter on yesterday’s post rightly points out, my opinions are liable to go up as well as down. Who knows how I’ll feel in a few days? But judging by my experiences with FIFA10, where things just flattened out to a monotone by the end—where it became neither one thing nor the other to me, neither real love or real hate—I think FIFA11 will be the same.

  7. Decc66—there’s no question in my mind that EA think of the online game first and the rest of us second. Granted, offline has got some notable love this year. The tournament menu screens have received the same facelift as Career mode and look great. Beyond that… do people still say ‘meh‘ on the Internet? It hasn’t gone the way of ‘wassup‘, has it…?

    I’m looking forward to PES2011 too,. I wonder if my first impressions of FIFA11 would have been different if it was up against PES2009, say.

    I suspect there’s some life in FIFA11 yet though. A good session tomorrow morning and then some hurriedly typed second impressions tomorrow afternoon. I honestly don’t know what they’ll be.

  8. abbeyhill—it is just gameplay for me at the moment. Say what you like about EA Sports and/or FIFA, but the phrase ‘feature-rich’ almost always accompanies their products.

    You’ll be pleased with improvements made on player weight. We both value PES’s heavier feeling, I think. I was messing around with Gerrard in the Arena and he felt like a tank at times in comparison to FIFA10. The ball has more weight in the sense that it dips sooner. You still get floaty-feeling shots but many more are ‘thumpers’ that fly straight and true.

  9. I`m all for bringing back wassup, after all if its good enough for the TPB`s Corey & Trevor…… Nomsayin

  10. ck—I’ll be ditching this theme for another in the near future—I’ve got too used to having two sidebars. And I’ve got a few plans for some future changes that need two sidebars. Thanks for the offer though, much appreciated. I’ll call on you if the new template has got similar issues to the paragraphless comments in this one.

    It’s perhaps typical of how polarising next-gen FIFA has always been to the PES-inclined that there’s this wide disparity of views about it. I think it might all come down to what type of football gamer you are. Me, I’m the sort who can rarely forget that there’s a near-foolproof, cheap-ass way to get the ball back whenever I’ve lost it—this really disfigures the game IMO.

    But like you say, it’s early days. The point of this blog is to record the ups and downs. And there will be at least another whole week for me to play FIFA11. I nearly got PES2011 today—the full game! (PC version.) If I had time here at work to tell that story, I would. If I’d got it, though, that could have been bye-bye FIFA11 probably until next summer.

  11. Never mind FIFA, there are more important things to be worried about.

    Have you only been playing the PES demo on your pc or have you been playing it on the ps3 as well?

    Having played barcelona against bayern on top player on the ps3 demo to the point where I can win every time, I had a go at the same match tonight on the pc demo using a ps2 controller.

    There is quite a big difference between the two demos, the flair players are all better on the pc demo, as in do more tricks and are faster, Messi in particular is a lot better in the pc demo than on the ps3 demo.

    But that’s not the main difference.

    The Bayern forwards didn’t press my defence when I had possession until the last 15 minutes even although I had taken the lead in the first half. On the ps3 demo they press from the kick off making the game very different.

    It might be quite hard to win with the defaults this year if teams defend from the front.

  12. madrab—ah yes PES2011 is still my number 1 goal at the moment, despite a good session on FIFA11 today. I nearly got the full PES2011 for PC yesterday, you know. Missed out on it by a few minutes. Konami were selling it via GAME as a download and they realised their mistake just after I bought it. Got a full refund, but still… Arrrgh. So close.

    I’ve not played the PS3 demo since I got the expanded PC demo to play with. As I said at the time, I think the game is different on PC, at least in demo form. It feels harder to me.

    A few people have had concerns about the AI, but I’m a poor defensive player—I rush around panicking too much— and so the AI almost always poses a threat to me.

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