FIFA 11

FIFA 11

After spending some time with the demo for FIFA 11, it is clear that EA Sports has shot and scored. While the demo is only a small portion of what you’ll be getting with the full release, I think anyone who gives it a try will be ready to drop the dough for a copy when it comes out.

The demo only only allows you to play games at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Spain with three minute halves. You have your choice of six teams: Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea, F.C. Barcelona, Juventus, Olympique Lyonnians and Real Madrid. A nice feature of the demo is that you can play on any of the game’s five difficulty levels.

As always, EA Sports has pulled no punches when it comes to the graphics in this game. The players faces feel, to me, like they’ve passed the “uncanny valley” and look very realistic. One of my favorite details in FIFA is that there is very little user interface clogging up the screen, which allows you to take in the full ambiance of the stadiums.

The players facial features look amazing in FIFA 11.

Sadly, since the demo games only have three minute halves, most of them end in a draw. At which point, thankfully, the game doesn’t end. But rather than some overtime, it goes to a shootout. Shootouts are a lot easier in FIFA 11 than in 2010 World Cup South Africa.

I had one bad experience with the shootout. While it worked out to my advantage, I realized that one of the rules of soccer was not followed. The ‘Madrid Rule’ is where, during a shootout, the kick deflects off a goalpost or crossbar, hits the goalie, and rolls in. This should be counted as a goal, but in the demo it was not. The shot was ruled over after it had hit off the cross bar and was rolling on the ground. It took me hours to figure out what the real rule should be. I was disappointed to discover that the goal should have been counted, but wasn’t. Thankfully, I was the goalie, so I stole a win.

I was also a little disappointed that EA didn’t let you try out the new Be A Pro: Goalkeeper mode. With it being such a big part of this year’s game, I thought it was something that should have been added to the demo.

After watching the advanced defensive tutorial video, I decided to take some of those moves for a test drive. Even though I initially thought it was going to be tough to pull off the new moves, it was actually pretty easy.

Didier Drogba driving a shot in for Chelsea.

Other than 2010 World Cup South Africa, it has been a couple of years since I’ve picked up a FIFA game. After playing the demo, I’m really happy that I have my copy of FIFA 11 pre-ordered at my local GameStop.

If the final version can live up to what I have built up in my mind, it might walk away with the prestigious Game Rant Sports Game of the Year Award. There have already been some great sports games released this year, and with NBA Elite and NBA 2K11 still to come, its looking to be a tough decision.

Obviously you should go and download this demo. Especially if you’re playing FIFA Superstars on Facebook, as there are some unlockables that you can get just from playing this demo.

The demo is no small file, coming in at 1.5GB on PSN and 1.2GB on Xbox Live.

EA Sports’ FIFA 11 comes out for all consoles and handhelds on September 28th in North America, September 30th in Australia, and October 1st everywhere else.