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FIFA 11 360 attentively delivers on promises to their player community - another round of intelligently chosen and well executed enhancements. Combine this with the DS and Wii versions, and FIFA 11 really has something for everyone in the family.
Before, what we think will be, the final addition to our family arrived a couple of years ago in the form of our youngest son I was a big Pro Evolution Soccer fan. I had followed it from the days of International Superstar Soccer through the various ups and downs, as it tried to respond to both FIFA's and Virtua Soccer's success, until it became the game we know today.
But with our third child on the scene I seem to have slowly lost faith in PES and become increasingly impressed with FIFA's efforts to engage their community. Maybe it was me changing or maybe it was the game, either FIFA's deliver and approach felt more like the domestic football season that I wanted to imitate.
This year continues that trend for me. But interestingly, our expanding family has for the first time joined me by taking advantage of the different versions of FIFA on offer. While I've been enjoying the 360 version - which I'll get into directly - my oldest son has been playing the DS game with his friends and my daughter and wife have found the Wii game's simple controls and 5 player mode perfect for them.
It's the visuals on the 360 version that keep me coming back though. The higher resolution gives the sense that you are in more detailed control of both your player and the ball. Effort I put in learning moves and generally improving my skill can really be capitalised upon in the game. On the Wii and DS I feel like the connection between my actions and on-screen results is more vague.
The extra processing power of the big consoles also reinvigorate player models and movement this year. This combines with excellent ball control, intelligent team mates and realistic animations to create an experience that touches on being lifelike - in the same way that Gran Turismo has my wife walking into the room thinking I'm watching the television.
There's always something I can't resist in a new FIFA.
Although we still buy the big console FIFA game each year, and place a few Euro 2012 Bets, I know that the changes and improvements are become more subtle each time - and I guess there will come a point where they hit a sweet point and I'll stick with last year's game. But so far there's always something I can't resist in a new FIFA.
FIFA 11 leaves behind the changes they made in the World Cup edition, and returns to emphasising both defensive as well as attacking play. This weighting is then offset by a more intentional passing system that encourages link-up play and forward movement - both on and off the ball.
Heading has also been revisited and benefits from a more realistic contact model that rightly favours taller players for in-flight ball contests. And in what is perhaps a nod to the World Cup ball, shooting in FIFA 11 also acknowledges the difficulty of keeping the it down while maximising power.
These are all improvements for those of us that follow the series closely. What will be more roundly appealing are the strides forward in multiplayer. First off the online modes are rock steady and rarely lag. This is all the more impressive for the game's 11 player mode where each person sticks to a particular position for the entire match.
My kids have enjoyed the reduced scope of play that hinges more on reactions and a quick eye for the game.
Although this sounds a little gimmicky, it actually creates some great team moments as players are forced to communicate between each other if they are to organise a coordinated attack. It's also something that my kids have enjoyed, as the reduced scope of play means success hinges more on reactions and a quick eye for the game than locating complex button combinations or out-witting the computer player's tactics.
While some of the 360 and PS3 FIFA 11 modes and ideas are mirrored in the other versions - like the play in position mode on FIFA 11 DS - it's only on the more powerful consoles that these come together in a high definition presentation that offers the detail, atmosphere and control I love the series for.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: