Body bags and spaghetti legs

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The Spectrum

With FIFA 10 winning multiple sports game of the year awards in 2010, FIFA 11 had some big cleats to fill.

Now, putting opponents in body bags with missile-like slide tackles and faking them out of their shoes with 360 degree ball handling has never been more fun.

EA Sports has found a pretty tried-and-true method of creating sports games: they take the previous year's game and make enough changes to satisfy fans, but not too many to break the game.

EA has a monopoly on sports games and their releases, though extremely polished, are getting predictably stale. Saying that FIFA 11 is better than FIFA 10 shouldn't surprise anyone. The only question is, how much better is it?

The graphics look like they might be a little crisper, but no one will really be able to tell from the camera angles that the game uses. To say the least, it looks just as good as its predecessor, which is more than sufficient.

The newly added goalie controls are a welcome addition. Gone are the days of criticizing the AI, yelling about why it didn't make an easy save. Now, when a dive comes a split second too late, players need look no further than their own controller for the blame.

Personality+, the most advertised new feature, is a small, under-the-hood change to FIFA 11. It is a system designed to not just make the gameplay feel more authentic, but the players themselves more realistic. EA has, to the best of their ability, given each player in the game a play style that corresponds to their real-life strengths and weaknesses.

While playing, it is not overwhelmingly noticeable, but it does make a difference when combined with the tuned up passing system. Together they help the player's movement stay fluid.

When using a player such as Cristiano Ronaldo, handling the ball changes. It really helps to know that the real-life superstars can actually replicate the things they are known for on the field. The skill moves flow better and controlling them feels more intuitive, making it easier to keep the ball a little closer to your feet and harder to lose.

The penalty shot system has been revamped as well. There is now an oscillating meter that determines the composure of the player before taking the shot. At the same time, the left analog stick changes the aim and holding shoot changes the power.

The system seems somewhat retro compared to the rest of the gameplay and is reminiscent of old-school Madden field goal kicking, but it works well and the composure meter makes the player have to worry about choking under pressure.

The worst thing about the game is that when it starts up, there is a frustrating number of screens that must be filled out before the game is even playable. This is because of EA's new "online pass."

In order to play online, a new copy of the game or an online pass purchase is required. While the virtual paperwork is frustrating and it may seem a bit like money grubbing, it really isn't too big of a problem and will hopefully just make retail stores lower their used game prices.

FIFA 11 is nothing more than the aggregate of its predecessors with a few more bells and whistles. The game is exactly what fans have come to expect from EA's yearly releases. As with most of their sports games, FIFA 11 is loads of fun and worth the money EA is charging.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com