FIFA 11 • Page 2

Pre-season warm-up.

The distinction between skilful and oafish players also seems to be more defined. Messi's and Ronald's feet control the ball with rapid, blurred touches that bamboozle the opposition, while the likes of Terry lumber forward with less control but come into their own when pulling off spectacular last-ditch tackles. This in turn results in games feeling more like a series of individual battles in which each player's strengths and weaknesses become exposed.

Corners and goalkeepers also display some promise. It feels as though you have more control over crosses from the corner flag, while 'keepers appear less susceptible to dinked chips in one-on-one situations. However, one disappointment is the continued presence of 2010 FIFA World Cup's cack-handed penalty system. Here's hoping a new one is implemented before release.

A few niggles and areas requiring polish aside, FIFA 11 appears to be shaping up nicely, but whether the on-pitch tweaks will be enough to propel the series to the next level is still open to debate. One feature that could go a long way towards determining whether FIFA 11 offers adequate nuances is a new game mode called Career Mode.

"When we looked at FIFA 10 and the management experience we decided it needed to be totally rewritten," reveals Rutter. "The hardcore seemed pretty disappointed with last year's mode. So we've ripped out the Be a Pro and Manager Mode features and replaced them with a Career mode.

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The match action is even more robust this time around.

"You can now be a player, manager or player-manager and play through 15 seasons. We've made a lot of changes, including a two tier transfer system that involves negotiations with players as well as teams. Team management has been improved, especially player comparisons.

"You can also see the results in leagues other than your own. We want you to feel as though there's a whole world of football going on around you, like other European leagues running simultaneously to yours, so the whole world feels more alive."

According to Rutter, there's a renewed focus on feedback and scheduling. "We've incorporated a ton of feedback from Be a Pro, like taking out the endless reserve games and receiving inappropriate feedback on your performance," he explains.

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A new 15 season career mode replaces Be a Pro.

"We had significant problems with our scheduling system in FIFA 10, which meant you had to play multiple games on the same day. We've also improved the transfer system. It's no longer the case where you can get the likes of Ronaldo to sign for Luton."

If Rutter and co can deliver on these promises and create a truly dynamic player career mode replete with transfers, international call-ups and the pitfalls of fame, this new Career mode could blow away everything that's come before. Here's hoping.

With the addition of improved passing and player AI, coupled with a promising sounding new Career mode, FIFA 11 is certainly on course to be another positive step forward for the series. But with PES looking as though it could pose a stiffer challenge than in recent years, only time will tell if FIFA 11 is of a high enough quality to see off its nearest rival and keep the series sitting pretty at the summit of that seemingly all-important Metacritic league.

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