Published on June 27th, 2010 | by prime3
FIFA 11 – Preview
“We want to make sure that FIFA 11 is totally, totally amazing,” starts Executive Producer, Kaz Makita. “Gameplay is the most important part; gameplay is where we start,” he says, before humbly admitting that he’s still fearful of Pro Evolution Soccer’s “awesome” gameplay.
“We’re confident that FIFA’s a good game,” chimes in Lead Producer David Rutter, “but are we comfortable? No.”
It’s an odd sentiment from a pair of developers whose combined efforts have seen Konami’s reputation as the king of football left in tatters, and it soon becomes fairly evident that despite FIFA’s critical and commercial success in recent years, the team at EA Sports isn’t happy simply resting on its laurels as football’s new top dog. It’s a point further highlighted by Rutter loading up EA’s internal bug checking software DevTrack, openly revealing a hundred-plus list of fixes, changes and tweaks to be implemented into this year’s game, each suggested by the fans.
The ability to create your own chants is just one of a load of new features
“We listened,” he says… The most important thing to note for FIFA 11, then, is that it’s about giving the fans exactly what they want. It’s all about polish, building on the framework and fundamentals laid down by EA Sports’ stunning handiwork over the last few years, and actively working to ensure that FIFA isn’t just the best football game on the market, but the only football game you’ll ever need.
This focal point on this year’s update all about player individuality, with a new mechanic known as ‘Personality +’, making sure that individual players are instantly recognizable on the pitch in the way they behave rather than simply via close-up action shots.
“It sounds a bit cheesy,” continues Rutter, “but the plus is there for a reason. Personality isn’t just about how a player looks, how he moves or how good he is on or off the ball; it’s all of the above and a lot more.”
EA isn’t just about to ignore those elements, of course, with player likenesses being something the team is keen to improve upon significantly via new photo-scanning technology designed to make players’ faces more true to life than ever before, while new wrinkling effects, expressions, eye movement and blinking animations further attempt to move FIFA away from its problem with Uncanny Valley.
‘Special cases’, as EA refer to them as, like the gigantic Peter Crouch or miniscule Aaron Lennon, have also had their own body types created from scratch, rather than simply being modified versions of those in the existing library as per recent years, while the quality and emphasis on custom runs and poses for star players has been upped dramatically – Cristiano Ronaldo’s unmistakable leg movement is now convincing enough to be mistaken for the real thing.
Of course, these changes aren’t purely cosmetic as they also affect the flow of the game, with each player’s specialty in certain positions and situations becoming more key than ever before. Rooney’s strength and power in the air becomes a crucial factor in planning set-pieces, and Gerrard’s passing ability proves vital for composing play. The ‘ping-pong passing’ problem of previous FIFAs, which saw players making difficult passes far too easily, is also something the team is keen to correct this year, introducing tens of algorithms to judge contextual errors and make passing significantly more authentic. It’s called ‘Pro Passing’ and it’s instantly noticeable upon picking up FIFA 11 for the first time, ultimately making passes slightly less predictable by taking into account ball height, spin, power, velocity, pressure and angle, as well as the player’s perception and overall skill – a 50-rated player is far less likely to make a successful pass than a player with an 85 rating, for example.
Similarly, you can wave goodbye to telepathic goalies. Goalie behavior is being overhauled considerably for FIFA 11, with keepers now reacting to the trajectory of the ball rather than being able to instantly read the ball’s direction straight from a kick or deflection. It makes a major difference, particularly in a crowded penalty box where ricochets can prove to be a formidable tactic.
Then there are the more trivial additions: three variations in sock height, skin-tight winter weather compression shorts, a new handball option and the ability to create your own chants being but a few in a sea of new features and overhauled mechanics.
But what isn’t trivial is EA Sports’ passion and commitment to the beautiful game. “FIFA 10 was the best football game we’ve ever released,” comments Creative Director Gary Paterson. And from what we’ve seen, FIFA 11 will be even better.
Player individuality has been greatly enhanced since last year’s FIFA, with new custom-created body types for the likes of Peter Crouch, custom run animations for star players, and enhancements to each player’s faces via new expressions and the inclusion of eye-tracking and blinking.
To make passing more realistic and eliminate the ‘ping pong’ nature of previous games, Pro Passing uses a load of algorithms to detect the ball’s velocity, spin, power, angle, height and pressure on each pass and then decides how accurate the pass will be.
For the first time in FIFA’s history you can now create your own chants to be played back during a match. Because of potential copyright issues, EA sports won’t allow you to share them with friends, but get on the mic and start shouting down the terraces!